Nothing New: an inspirational story for 2019

Buying #nothingnew is a growing movement, and about time too. But if you’re new to the game, or simply toying with the idea, it can feel a bit overwhelming… how do you even start?

In February last year I chatted to Emma Playsted about her project for 2018: buying nothing new for the year. An impossible dream, surely?

Now that the year is up I checked back in to find out just how (im)possible her initiative turned out to be.

The result: while it was not without a few challenges, she remained resolutely on track. The best bit? Emma is totally ordinary – raising children, working, running a household, trying to be a good friend, and all the rest – just like you and me. If she can do it, so can we.

Be inspired…

A quick recap on her rules: she had to buy everything secondhand, repurpose what she had, swap, find or make what she needed. Groceries were the only exclusion.

You’ve now finished your nothing new challenge – well done. How did it go? Pretty well! Not all smooth sailing – there were some highs and lows, definitely some struggles. But once you’re through the first month or so and have dehabituated ingrained behaviour, it honestly becomes second nature.

What, if anything, have you still been buying ‘new’? After trying to find solutions sometimes I’ve just had to buy new. Primarily swimming suits, underwear and shoes, particularly sandals as it can be really hard to find them in the right size in a good condition; people tend to ruin them fairly quickly!
Also sometimes for the girls, because of their ridiculously fast rate of growth, I’ve had to buy new as I just can’t find what they need secondhand when they need it. They are also lucky to have received gifts of clothes from family, but the majority of their wardrobe is preloved.

What would you say has been the biggest negative trigger… where you felt most like you might capitulate and buy something new? Seeing people in beautiful clothes on Instagram is a biggie. You can’t help covet things and it’s all too easy to ‘click to buy’ or use affiliate links. Learning to disable that trigger response is the most difficult – we have been taught to ‘buy on demand’ – but it is so rewarding when you feel released from the need to consume. You have so much more energy (and money) to spend on other things.

Have you managed to save money? Yes! Although there have been times when even shopping secondhand I have felt old habits starting up (the need to buy) – so that is something to watch out for. The ‘nothing new’ and just the whole concept of being more conscious and sustainable has filtered through to all areas, so I’ve been buying everyone’s birthday gifts secondhand and wrapping them in book pages or scarves, etc. Saves so much money and so much better for the environment (and nobody has complained).

What would be your top tips for people just starting out? Take it slow, don’t pressure yourself too much, every step is a step in the right direction. Make a list of things you need or love and take it with you when you shop second hand – that way you are less likely to deviate and more likely to buy things that you will really get wear from.

It can initially be very tricky if you love clothes. But a huge benefit of only buying vintage or secondhand fashion is that it makes your outfits so original. Sometimes on Instagram you can see the same dress on every other person and (even though often they are bloody gorgeous and would be something I would wear) it’s great to know you can create something different. Focus on the positives – by avoiding the mainstream you are avoiding being mainstream 🙂

Now that the year is up, are you shopping up a (new) storm or will you continue to buy nothing new? I think I will keep most of the habits but not necessarily buy everything preloved. Interestingly, I have no desire to venture into the same shops I used to – fast fashion and mindless consumption feels like such a backwards step. I have been using this time to look into ethical companies and designers and I think I will be saving to buy a few really nice key pieces.

And I’m still learning so much, which is brilliant – I don’t think that will stop any time soon. My journey doesn’t stop here. I’ve been involved in a few workshops and attended a panel at the London Sustainable Fashion Rooms. I’ve also taken part in Fashion Revolution’s free online course, which was utterly fascinating.

If you fancy following Emma for vintage and secondhand inspiration, you can find her on Instagram here.