“Not Buying It” by Judith Levine
So I’m (N.) totally a book junkie. Getting my fix used to cost my father $100s at the bookstores on a weekly basis until eventually he cut me off so he could start saving for retirement :). When I got older I continued to get my fix at the bookstore instead of the library but I did at least loan my books out or donate them when I was done. I finally came to the conclusion that although the library isn’t going to have every book I want to read I need to start saving for retirement too!
Now I check out 5-10 books from the library every couple weeks to prevent withdrawal symptoms. I will still occasionally go to a big bookstore or online to Amazon in order to read book reviews or find new books to read but I use that data and then get them from the library or I simply do without.
My most recent aquisition was “Not Buying It” and I have to say this book was incredibly well written and humorous. It chronicles the year of a married couple not buying anything but neccessities. The definition of what is necessary changes over the course of the year and they (well the wife) does slip up a couple times but basically they buy work related things, food (but no eating out), and they donate money to various political causes. It’s a realistic view of what it would be like for any of us to have to do without for a year. They bicker about what to buy and not buy, they go on a mild spending spree right before the year starts, they covet things in the store, they are alternately drawn to and repelled by the consumerist society that we live in. What they don’t do is really live a total low impact life. They own two homes, an apartment in New York City and a house in the Vermont country side. They own three different vehicles and more stuff then some of us good even begin to contemplate and instead of getting rid of it they look at ways of storing it more effectively. They start a small garden but they do try to buy local. They don’t turn off the heat or electricity, they don’t go off the grid although Judith interviews a couple people that have. The first part of the book is hysterical and mainly focuses on the side effects of not buying and commentary on the consumerist society we live in but the second half gets more serious and a lot more political.
I don’t see J. and I putting a moratorium on shopping any time soon mainly because we don’t believe in such extreme measures that are temporary we would rather find a permanent and sustainable balance.
Would you be willing to go without out entirely for a year?