Leap Year Resolutions

Friday, February 29th, 2008
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The Story of StuffI never make New Year’s resolutions because I think if there’s something you should change, you should change it on August 7th when you realize it and not some arbitrary day in the middle of Winter. This is also why I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day (I mostly celebrate the day thereafter, which I like to call 50%-off Chocolate Day).

This year, however, is an odd one. It’s one day longer than usual, so I figure I can take the time to write up a little blog post for myself about Resolutions because I have an extra day to play with.

So, what is my Leap Year’s Resolution? Why, it is to lose weight. But, fair reader, not the weight that you would expect. It is the weight of STUFF.

Watch this*, if you haven’t already. (Here are parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.) It’s called The Story of Stuff, and it’s about why it’s necessary to reduce our consumption. It can be a tad simplistic in some areas (and the beau spent most of his time complaining about all sorts of complicated engineer-y stuff about how dioxin is really a class of chemicals and blah blah blah), but it makes an incredible point about why we need to cut down what we buy, and why it really isn’t necessary for us to go shopping once a week.

It really got to me, because I never thought I was one of those people that centers their life around consumption but I realize now that I can sway in that direction from time to time, especially in terms of fashion. I do thrift my yarn from sweaters, but I also make stupid clothing purchases because I want to live this dream life where I’m stylish and fantastic and wear clothes that will look ridiculous in 5 years.

Well, you know what? The amount of time I spend agonizing about how I could be a tad cooler if I tried wearing bangs and those weird smooshed leather boots and new clothes every day could also be spent reading a book, writing an article or using that sewing machine that’s currently sitting in a box without an AC cord in my parents’ basement to make new clothes every day.

You know that episode of The Simpsons where Marge kept revamping her Chanel dress? That used to be called thrift. I agree with Marge. We can’t afford to shop at any store that has a philosophy. From now on, I’m buying my pants once a year and my Sorny television every 15.

So, after all that rambling, here is my resolution in a few easy steps. This is like a stashalong, except that it’s for all my present and future possessions. Here are the rules:

  • First, the knitting. This is where I’m most extravagant, I think. I can only buy new yarn when I have a pattern in mind an am willing to knit that pattern within a year. I am allowed to break this rule if I find a $7 sweater made out of cashmere or merino or something equally exquisite. I’ve also decided that I will not be buying a yarn winder; I’m going to fashion one out of an old blender my parents have sitting in the basement.
  • Clothing purchases must fit with at least 3 other outfits I already own. I must have some idea that the clothing will still be fashionable in 3 years.
  • If I need something, I have to ask myself: a) do I really need it?; and b) can I make it with stuff I already have in under an hour or so? If the answers are yes and no, I’m allowed to buy it.
  • An additional question I will have to ask is: will it last for more than 5/10/15/20 years? This will depend on the type of object I’m buying. I can’t bet on anything when buying a computer, but I can opt for a solid wooden table over a plastic one when I’m buying furniture.
  • Oh yeah, this one is big: Nothing from China. Period. This is more for sociopolitical reasons than environmental ones.
  • If I see something I want that isn’t on my shopping list, is impractical or violates one of the above rules, I have to put a 72-hour cooling off period between me and the purchase. If I really want it I can go back for it, but in most cases I won’t.
  • Getting rid of stuff: I’m going to try to sell as much of my crap as I can on eBay.
  • I may add more as time goes on, but that’s it for now.

* I’m recommending a YouTube link because the video at the original site does a weird job of buffering that’s really disruptive. You’ll thank me! :)

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