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7 ways to get by without spending a penny

October is Buy Nothing New month, a global movement for collective, conscientious consumption which began in Melbourne. Here are a few ideas for saving your pennies and caring for the planet.

1Stop making excuses

The challenge is to buy nothing new (with the exception of essentials like food, hygiene and medicines), not to go without. It’s about evaluating consumer choices and asking questions about where all that stuff comes from, and where it ends up.

2Vote with your money

If you want to see more sustainable production, consider the provenance of everything you purchase. Is it made locally, with good design, and built to last? We all love a bargain, but remember that the price tag is indicative of the cost of labour, materials, and transport.

3Write it down

Writing down everything you purchase for a month is a revealing exercise about spending priorities. It helps with budgeting, and is a sure-fire way to keep track of what goes in and out of the pantry.


This is the new word for swapping clothes, shoes and accessories with friends at parties. If the thought of others scrutinising your clothes tags is too confronting, try op shopping or up-cycling. Be brutal; practise “one in, one out” when you bring home something new. (When used as a general rule, this practice should only be applied to non-human life forms and fish tanks).


Think about it: every time you eat out or stay in a hotel you use linen and kitchenware that other folks have handled countless times (and that’s before we start talking about the water you drink). Recycle or donate unwanted stuff, and consider whether items you need can be sourced second-hand or by borrowing or swapping.

6Get a hobby

Don’t shop to alleviate boredom. Before handing over your hard-earned cash, ask yourself: if I leave without buying this, will I remember why I wanted it?

7Consider the lilies

Grandma and Bear Grylls might have a use for everything from laddered nylons to used tea leaves, but we know you are too busy reading Journey in your spare time to be a survivalist. Take a few minutes to list some changes that you can make to your lifestyle, then relax, take the weight off your feet and consider the lilies and how they grow.

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