Buying Into No-Buy

James Kirk
Author James Kirk
Collection StoriaHealth

Do you want to make 2019 the year of no shopping? You would not be alone. Bloggers have tried the challenge to better appreciate what they already have. Others have done so in an effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle. In 2017, writer Ann Patchett wrote about her year of no shopping, sparked by the feeling she was using shopping as a distraction. Finance writer Michelle McGagh wrote a book called The No Spend Year the same year.

But now they appear to be growing in popularity and visibility. Search “no-buy year” or “no-spend challenge” on Google and platforms like YouTube and Reddit, where consumers go to share their experiences, and you’ll find an abundance of results. On YouTube, the term “no-buy” is common on beauty channels, which feature things like a “no-buy month” or a “lipstick no-buy”.

San Francisco-based consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow says it’s no wonder consumers are buying into no-buy. “In the past 20 or so years, we’ve been stuffed with cheap merchandise,” she says. “People are awash with products, clothing, beauty care, accessories. They’re running out of space.”

Like the decluttering movement sparked by Marie Kondo, Yarrow says “the goal is the same: to feel in control of your things.” She sees the no-buy year as an “antidote to gluttony”.

Some of those who take on the challenge want to consume less in an era of overproduction, help the environment or tidy up their homes. But others are worried that their shopping is becoming a problem, according to a feature.

A review of published research suggests that shopping addiction, or compulsive buying, affects around 5 percent of the population. Experts believe the condition, which can affect people to varying degrees of seriousness, is on the rise and that better tools are needed for diagnosis to accurately measure the problem.

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