Is all the 'stuff' associated with family life driving you crazy? There is a way to step off that treadmill of consumerism and this month is the best time to start.
October is Buy Nothing New Month, and it could be the beginning of a new way of life for you and your family. "We live on a planet with finite resources, and yet we are consuming infinitely," says Tamara DiMattina of the reasons that inspired her to start this cause. "The solution is to move back to when we were citizens and community members instead of consumers."
We're raising children who are surrounded by messages telling them they're consumers. Throughout their lives they'll be bombarded with messages that in order to be happier, better people, they need the latest products. This simply isn't true, and as parents we can create a different message. "We can provide an alternative voice that you don't have to be that way," says DiMattina.
DiMattina adds that the idea around Buy Nothing New Month isn't to stop spending money, or trying to avoid buying the things you need (you can still buy your food and hygiene products, for example). Instead, it's about creating new habits that are more mindful. "It's like a detox: just take a month off and reassess how much you really need," explains DiMattina. "Buy Nothing New Month is about pursuing a more mindful, meaningful and stress-free life. Take a month out and commit to thinking about your purchases."
Amber, mum to a four-year-old son, says her household undertakes periods of buying nothing new throughout the year. "My husband and I are not big spenders, so it's flowed automatically to how we bring up our son," she says. "We were raised to spend money thoughtfully and value and use what we already have."
This is something that teaches a valuable lesson to her son. Amber says, "It teaches him that shopping and buying things is not the centre of his life, and that there are lots of other free ways in which he can enjoy his time." She adds that it's benefited their whole family: "It teaches us to value time, gratitude and to use what we have instead of excessively consuming."
Are you up for the challenge? It could provide a powerful insight for your own family in considering the ways you spend money, time and resources. It also has the added bonus of being good for the environment - after all, we want plenty of the planet's resources left for our kids and grandchildren.
Here are seven ideas to help parents take part in Buy Nothing New Month:
1. Take the pledge on the Buy Nothing New website
2. Need something? Buy it second-hand instead – this approach supports local charities and extends the lifespan of products.
3. Kids grow out of their clothes so quickly, so hand-me-downs are great. Speak to friends and family members about swapping children's clothes.
4. Consider alternatives to buying gifts. Can you make something or give an experience instead?
5. Give yourself an incentive by saving the money you're not spending. This could add up to allow you to spend on a fun family experience at the end of a month.
6. Talk to your kids about why you're taking part in Buy Nothing New Month, to help them understand the impact you all have on the bigger picture.
7. Ask yourself some questions around the things you buy. When you throw something away, where does it go? Where was that piece of clothing made? Do you really need that thing you're about to buy? Do you want to be at that shopping centre, or could your time and money be used differently?
Will you take the challenge? Visit the Buy Nothing New Month website to find out more and take the pledge.