Sustainable Lifestyle – My No Buy Year Challenge

Library’s are the way forward!

Like so many of us, I am trying hard to live a more sustainable life. I started out on my sustainability journey about 3 years ago, and feel I have learnt so much along the way! I mentioned in my Blog Round up post, that I wanted to bring more of this element of my life, onto the blog. You will never have me preaching at you, but I am incredibly passionate about it. I even write a magazine column about it, so it feels right to bring it over here to my blog. It seemed my challenge sparked curiosity in many of you. I shared on Instagram Stories the quest I have set for myself this year, of a no buy year. I had so many questions about it! We all seem to have a desire to reduce our waste, which is amazing. So, I thought it seemed it could be a great post to start my regular sustainability posts with! Let me share with you the way I have decided to up the anti in achieving a sustainable lifestyle. I have set myself the challenge of a “no buy year”. Let’s get into the details…

My Sustainable Lifestyle Quest

Firstly, a little background. As I have already said, I am on a mission! I am trying hard to reduce the impact that my daily life, has on this beautiful planet of ours. For the last three years I have been slowly learning, and working towards, as sustainable a life as I can. Lately, this has led to me feeling very conflicted about the type of travel I write about and promote. I have spoken about this inner conflict before in this post. Whilst I have no illusions at all that I am some huge influencer, speaking to the masses, I do feel I have a responsibility. I have become conscious that taking off on a city break every other month via plane, is not responsible travel. It is one of the reasons that Nik and I have enjoyed more staycations, and places we can get to via train the last few years. We also take part in carbon offset programmes when we do fly. We are trying to lessen the impact, while still satisfy our inbuilt, (and insatiable) wanderlust!

plastic free swaps for a sustainable life
No Planet B – Image from the internet, could not find image credits for it

I have also become aware of my relationship to, and buying of, “stuff”. It has surprised me to learn over these last few years, that a lot of my buying is habitual. It is something I had always done, so therefore I continued to do so. Things like buying a new outfit for a night out. Or getting a new coat or pair of boots every Winter. Did you know it is estimated that £140 million of clothing goes to landfill each year?? That is not to mention the washing that a larger wardrobe creates! I found an interesting “wardrobe Sustainability Calculator“. It tells you an idea of the footprint of your clothing. it is quite eye opening!

In my case, my willpower’s kryptonite, is books. I find myself going on Amazon to buy a book, and adding six to my cart! Books are my weakness, yet I probably have enough in my home to build a small house! Oh and don’t even get me started on my notebook and planner collection……

All this slow dawning self awareness, led to me wanting to make bigger changes. So, I have set myself a challenge to not buy anything that I do not need, for a whole year!!!!!! That may sound easy to you, and some of you may already think you do that. But, if you really break it down, you might surprise yourself! I thought I was pretty good the last couple of years, but it seems not! I can improve for sure.

My no buy year Challenge

I suppose I started on my buying less quest 18 months ago, with toiletries. I had an entire cupboard in my bathroom, full of body moisturisers, shower gels, unopened gift sets etc. I made the commitment that I would not buy any toiletries or make up, until I had worked my way through what I had. Obviously, if things ran out, like my shampoo bar, (I switched to them a while back, you can read the Zero waste pamper post here), I replaced it. Well, despite taking a big bag of unopened stuff to the woman’s refuge, I still have not had to buy anything (other than used up stuff) for the entire 18 months. In fact, I have only bought two shampoo bars, 1 mascara, 4 deodrants. That just goes to show you the excess I had sitting on my shelves!

easy plastic free swaps for a sustainable lifesttle
I have been using these about 8 weeks

So I am extending this to every thing else this year. Some of the rules I have set myself are;

  • A strict one in, one out policy. I only buy something that has run out, worn out or broke.
  • No purchasing of any non-fiction books until I have read all that are on my shelf.
  • No purchasing of fiction books. In fact, I have joined my local library today to borrow books from. The Authors still get their well deserved royalties that way too! Plus, if we don’t use our libraries, we will lose them!
  • Re-purposing anything that I can. For example, old towels and bedding have been taken to my local dog shelter to use for the dog’s bedding. A mirror that no longer fits my decor, I’v painted the frame and used laid flat as a tray on a coffee table.
  • No buying clothes, shoes, bags etc. They say the average person only wears approximately 30% of what is in their wardrobes. I think I could agree with that!

I will be spending money on trips, experiences and things I do with my friends and family. Experiences and time with your loved ones create memories and enrich the soul! That is why I have not called it a no spend year. This challenge is not really about saving money, its about stopping the buying of stuff I do not need. It is also making me use what I have and reducing my household waste further still!

travel more responsibly

In addition, as part of an experiment on myself, I am writing down everywhere that I do spend my money. In one of my many notebooks… ahem… I am jotting down exactly what I spend and where. The reason I am doing this is to make myself accountable, and also see where I spend. It has already proved enlightening. In the first week of January, I thought I had not hardly spent anything. When I looked in my notebook I had spent £110! I had donated to the WIRES fund (the Australian Wildlife fund, the bush fire devastation on wildlife is monumental). I had put petrol in my car. I had gone out for lunch with a friend and I had treated me and my boys to a vegan KFC burger. (Totally unnecessary spending on the KFC by the way, but I was obsessed with trying it)!

The next big step in my sustainable life…..

I am also taking the huge step, (for me) of selling my car! I will not lie, I drive a nice new car that I love. It is my pride and joy and the only big purchase I ever made when I owned my business. It is also a gas guzzling, sports model BMW that drinks fuel like I used to drink shots in my younger days! My emotional attachment to it is not as great as the emotion I feel when I see the rain forest burning, or 500 million animals perishing in Australia. My emotions to that are far, far greater! So, it goes up for sale in the next month or so (it is convertible so will sell better in the Spring). I told you, I mean business!

So, what are your thoughts?

As I say, I am not about to get all preachy to any of you about your own habits. You know me well enough to know that is not my way. However, I do think it is all of our responsibility to make even small changes. All I would ask of you, is that you look at where you could make even the teeniest, tiniest change. Even eating less meat per week, or switching to eco friendly loo roll! Anything, anything at all that is a change for the health of the planet, is a good thing.

So there you have it! My challenge to myself this year. I am not expecting to be perfect, and I expect some slip up’s along the way. That “retail therapy” mentality is strong in all of us that are privileged enough to have money in our pockets and a roof over our head! We are also decorating a couple of rooms in our house this year, so I will have the conflict there of buying new nick knacks etc. But I know, and give you my heartfelt promise, that I am going to try my hardest. I promise to give you my total honesty in my quarterly updates on how the no buy year is going.

I would love to know your thoughts. Do you think you could do it? Are you too trying to make small changes in your own lifestyle to reduce your impact? If you have any tips to share, please, please do so in the comments. It is how we all learn. Educating ourselves and learning daily xx



  1. January 6, 2020 / 11:00 pm

    I totally agree with you about books. I’m a book lover, and now that I have a normal life again I can actually read. The problem is that I absolutely love book shops, and want to support all independent book shops!! We sadly saw Liam Ruiséals bookshop in Cork close down some year ago, so I try to buy all I can from local bookshops. We have two LOVELY small bookshops in Clonakilty and there’s one in Kinsale. BUT like you I have loads of books I haven’t read. So now I have to be good and not buy any books for a while. I actually entered the bookshop in Kinsale this Saturday and didn’t buy anything. Yay!
    Good luck with your challenge!

    • kerrylifeandloves
      January 7, 2020 / 7:54 am

      Ohhh Susanne books are so hard to resist. You did well! I am the same as you, I LOVE the little independent book shops. In fact, I can not travel anywhere in the UK without seeking one out! Not sure how strong my resolve would be then…….. Thank you for following along. I am actually excited to see what lessons I am going to learn in this challenge. I know for sure there will be some!

  2. Angela Thompson
    January 7, 2020 / 9:10 am

    On the idea of buying new Nik Nacks… I’ve just moved and found I had cupboards full of bits where I have changed my decor. Maybe someone could start swishing party’s for decor the way you can swap clothes… could be the next big thing…. if not head to the Charity shops. Angela

    • kerrylifeandloves
      January 7, 2020 / 10:53 pm

      Ohhh Angela I think you have hit on an amazing idea there! I have a cupboard full of redundant nick knacks too! What a fabulous idea! I am going to have a look in the charity shops. That is sustainable isnt it xx

  3. January 17, 2020 / 3:20 pm

    A no spend is very hard, its not that fact that you stop spending. Its the emotional side to things. I struggled so much, even though I have too much stuff already. Using my local library has saved me so much money. I read 25+ books a month. But then with my health condition, I can not do very much. Good luck !

    • kerrylifeandloves
      January 17, 2020 / 4:22 pm

      It has been incredibly revealing Natasha. I did not relise how much of my spending was habitual or attached to emotion. Just a couple of weeks in and it has already been quite revealing. I would love to hear some of your book recommendations. I am always looking for my next read x

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