Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ten Months, Nine Days

I realized a few days ago that I let my tenth month of non-consumerism blow right past without even acknowledging it. I guess I'm at the point where I kind of take my non-consumerism for granted.
Non-consumerism: You never take me out anymore! We used to talk all the time, you know, about the future and our dreams and stuff. And now you barely say two words to me!
Arduous: Baby, chill out. You know I still love ya.
Non-consumerism: Yeah, but would it kill you to say it sometimes?
Arduous: What can I say, Non-consumerism. You consume me.
Non-consumerism: Hah hah. I'm still mad at you.
Okay, I'm having conversations with an idea now. I'm officially loopy.

If I'm being honest, I'm actually kinda sad that this project is ending so soon. I mean, I am definitely, definitely looking forward to new underwear. But ... it's going to be weird. In a way, being a non-consumerist makes life easier. It's so black and white. There's no weighing, "Can I buy this? Do I need this? Can I afford it?" It's so nice, so clean, so simple. And once I'm done with this challenge, I'll be back in the world of grays. And I worry a little. What if I go back to my consumeristic self? What if I buy one new thing and it unleashes a year's worth of pent up buying frustration? I mean, I don't FEEL frustrated, but what if I am and I don't even REALIZE it?

On the other hand, it will be nice to occasionally buy stuff without the incredible time hassle that is now required for so many things. For instance, did you know that very few people feel like selling their fans in June? Shocking, I know. And it's sort of frustrating that I can't just pick one up at the Bed, Bath, and Beyond especially considering that the reason I need a fan is because I'm attempting to go the summer without turning on my a/c. Part of the reason I'm not composting yet is because I can't go out and buy a worm bin, and I don't really think I own anything suitable.

And lest y'all get the wrong impression, I haven't been a total saint. I've committed a few transgressions in the past ten months. Let's see. I bought a new battery for my iBook, and a new battery for my iPod. Both purchases sort of fell into questionable territory because I only gave up new durable items for the year. Is a rechargeable battery durable? I don't know. Sorta. But in any case, I didn't really see how I could avoid the purchases seeing as I didn't want to just do without my laptop and iPod for the rest of the year.

What else? Oh, I guess I should count the fact that I got my laptop fixed when it died. I mean, again, it's questionable, because instead of buying a new laptop, I just had the old one fixed. But seriously, I'm not blind. I can see clearly that Apple was nice enough to give me a new keyboard, and who knows what other parts are new inside my computer.

I also recently bought some cheesecloth. The cheesecloth itself falls into the gray durable/non-durable area and frankly, if I had been using the cheesecloth, I'd be inclined to let it slide. But since I haven't used the cheesecloth once yet, I actually think this has been my biggest sin.

Oh, and then there's the diva cup. I really don't count this as a transgression at all because if I hadn't bought the cup, I would have had to buy more disposable tampons. But I guess while I'm confessing all, I might as well mention it.

And ... as far as I can remember that's it. So that's five (sorta) transgressions in ten months. Not too shabby, huh?


hgg said...

Not too shabby? It's totally fucking awesome! If everyone did what you do just for a day we'd save quite a few non-renewable resources.

And I guess the world economy as we know it would crash :-D...

Burbanmom said...

Friggin AMAZING! I compacted for one whole month before falling off the wagon and hitting Target, of all places!

I start every month with new resolve NOT to buy ANYTHING and every month I fail.

However, "trying" does at least keep me from going out and blowing money on non-essential, fru-fru stuff like knick-knacks and decorations.


Why do I feel like I should buy you something to celebrate your success? Hmmmm. strange.

Anonymous said...

didja know a handy worm bin can be built out of scrap wood and a smattering of galvanized nails... all (usually) readily available for free on craigslist(or, should you live in the suburbs, around the neighborhood on heavy trash day)? you can find simple plans online and even find your worms for free. just leave a large piece of wet cardboard on the lawn or in the garden overnight. it turns into a redworm hang out. in the morning (before it gets too warm and the worms retreat) flip the cardboard over and VOILA! tiny, voracious little composters

Unknown said...

still subconsciously worried you're going to murder your composting worm friends I see... heh heh heh

But seriously you have a challengicious discipline I only wish I possessed. You're like an eco-marine or at least superhuman. I mean how many people can go 10 months without drinking water or breathing? That means something.

I wouldn't be surprised if I hear financial analysts on NPR say the entire economic downturn is because you refuse to buy underwear. ;-)

EcoBurban said...

Way to go Arduous! I have a sneaky feeling the world of "grays" won't be too hard for you to navigate. I have managed a few weeks at a time here and there without buying anything. But then, a kids birthday sneaks up on me or the coffee maker breaks and BAM, right back on the consumerism! Keep up the good work!!

Green Bean said...

Wow! Only 5 or so transgressions. That is pretty amazing.

I've cut back on my shopping. I mean REALLLLLY cut back. But still, we've certainly purchased more than 5 things. The world of gray - should be a snap.

But, of course, to remain challeng-ilious, you'll need to come up with something else. Not shower for a year? Maybe not. Grow all your own food in your little apartment? Well, knowing you, you'll think of something.

Oh, and I too predict you'll murder the worms. I did, twice.

Chile said...

Haha, welcome to the gray side, Arduous.

Maybe you can continue with your commitment but make the needed modifications. Keep it b&W with more in the "allowed" know like underwear that's not hanging by a thread. Or were they always thongs?

mollyjade said...

You can make a worm bin out of a big plastic storage container. You just need to drill holes in the bottom for drainage and a few on the side to let in some air. I tried to find the instructions I used, but they've disappeared. But this Web site explains things pretty well.

Anonymous said...

"I also recently bought some cheesecloth" Arduous, I think your entire non-consuming project just fell apart right there!

Kidding. I understand that black and white thing, but personally I am a lot more comfortable staying in the gray zone. To me, it is the spirit of the activity that matters. One transgression or even 10 does not ruin the experiment.

It already made you into a non-consumer. Anyway, maybe that's just my lame excuse. I do anything with -ish :)

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

You rock!

I'm not usually too squeamish with worms (I was the kind of kid who used to pick them up to gross out the girly girls) but I never really fancied the thought of a whole colony living in my kitchen.

I started composting as soon as we bought a house with a garden, and used my first compost this year. Turns out that cranberries don't compost, they just ferment (that layer smelled very alcoholic), and that worms like to party. Seriously, there was a whole pink wriggly orgy going on in the cranberry layer. I wasn't quite expecting to find them there so I may or may not have let out a girly squeak...

Crunchy Chicken said...

You are doing a fantastic job, woman! You have a fortitude that 99.9% of the rest of America lacks.

I don't think you'll have an arduous time reintegrating yourself back into the consuming world. A lot of the items you've been wanting are replacements for a more consumptive lifestyle and buying those really has a lot less impact than you think. Just don't go too crazy making up for it all!

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me?!?!?! Your transgressions don't even count because most of them are tools and parts!! You can't use a laptop keyboard that isn't attached to anything. You've been hanging out with Crunchy too much, methinks. I'm beginning to doubt even entertaining a competition with you...

Still, I know what you mean by reducing all buying decisions to "NO." Super-easy, no thinking. I've had a couple jubilees in 2008: I'm definitely still working out my relationship with stuff. I think it's very deeply psychological, connected with our rewards systems and self-esteem. Maybe someday I'll be able to compile all my thoughts into a coherent argument or essay...I'm curious to see how the changeover will go for you.


Anonymous said...

PS. Can you take your scraps to the farmer's market for someone else to compost them?

Sam said...

I agree that is amazing!

I haven't been much of a consumer because I've never had much money. But for a brief period when I did have some money I went on a spending spree. I bought a bicycle, some clothes, shoes, socks, undies. In short...things I actually needed. After all those purchases I felt rich...even after I went back to my voluntarily poor lifestyle. So for me not being a consumer has been easy because I went without being one for so long.

If it makes you feel any better, I bought a brand new laptop a few weeks ago.

ruchi said...

HGG, thanks! I'm glad I merited swearing! That's when I know I'm doing a good job!! ;)

Aw, Burbs, thanks, but your presence is my present. And I know that that is totally cheesy, but I mean it. Everyone cheering me on on this mad adventure is worth way more to me than any amount of new underwear!

blondeoverboard, I didn't know that, thanks for sharing. I am a little leery of trying to make my own bin (what if I do a bad job and the worms find a way to crawl out and then they eat me in my sleep!!!) but I will definitely look into it, and maybe con someone else into building my worm bin.

SDG, breathing is totally overrated.

EBM, thanks! I hope you're right.

GB, thanks! I have some ideas in mind for when the challenge officially ends. But you'll have to wait until August for that....

Chile, hehe a lady never reveals her underwear secrets!

mollyjade, awesome, thank you! I'm not sure I have a plastic storage container that would work ... but I'll root around and see what I can find. Thanks for the tip!

Cindy, I actually agree with you. I love living in the gray. But I am also fiercely competitive, so when I set myself this challenge, I had to do it full throttle.

CAE, I know that's the other thing. The idea of worms hanging out in my kitchen is a little off-putting.

Crunchy, thank you! You're right. The fan and the worm bin are replacments for a more consumptive life. Though I'm not sure one can say the same thing about underwear....

Megan, you are going to kick my ass up and down the block in our little competition. I can just feel it. I actually have been thinking a lot about the post you wrote a couple months ago, about the time you spent searching for a razor. I feel similar a lot of the times. Especially in my pursuit of a god damned used fan. The taking scraps to the FM is a damn good idea. I'll ask next time I'm there.

Beany, thank you! I think the most important part of this challenge has been figuring out what I really need versus what I want. You do a really great job of distinguishing needs from wants.

Anonymous said...

a little more than not too shabby, i think. that's pretty awesome :P maybe the world of gray won't be so gray once you're done. i mean, you're wanting normal things, like underwear or a shower mat. at least you're not wanting to buy crap... you might find it isn't so hard anymore, because you just might not be desiring certain unecessary items. i guess we'll see when it's over...

hgg said...

hmm, yeah sorry for my foul mouth (not really)

ruchi said...

Kimberly, I hope you're right. I think I have started really becoming aware of what is a want and what is a need. But if I wander too far into the consumerist land, I'll have all you lovely people to reign me in! ;)

HGG, please girl. I swear like a sailor.

Anonymous said...

Yay for Diva Cup! I don't think that should count as a transgression! It will save you from buying so many pads/tampons.

It took me a couple of months to work up the nerve to go for the Diva Cup, but I've had it for a year and I'd never go back!

Anonymous said...

p.s. love the blog - I linked to you from 'Burban Mom!

Joyce said...

Arduous, not only is it amazing that you've been so disciplined, you've done it with such good humor! I'll bet I speak for a lot of your readers when I say that your adventures have been the highlight of my blog reading every day. I don't know how you post so prolifically while working such long days, riding the bus, and hunting for bargains at the resale shops. I just hope you won't quit writing when your year is up!

ruchi said...

Katie, glad you love the blog and are on the Diva Cup train. I used to think it was the grossest thing ever, but now I love it.

Joyce, thank you so much. Though, as evidenced by the next post, I sometimes lose the good humor!