About Us

We don't actually advocate going without socks! We are two sisters with a common goal: 2011 is our year to step away from cultural messages that try to force us to define ourselves as consumers. To that end, we are committed to spend this year buying only what we need, and to buying used items whenever possible.

We decided to use this forum to document our experiences, share successes and challenges, and support each other in our efforts.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Killing Time

Dear Amy,

So what do you do when you're more than half an hour away from home, with a couple of hours to kill, and you can't go shopping?

I suggested the library, but Taylor vetoed that. It wasn't too cold outside--about 36 degrees, so I suppose we could have gone on a walk, but didn't want to. There weren't any museums near by.

Taylor suggested we just walk around in some stores and look at stuff, but don't buy. I am opposed to that, because every time I do, I find out that I really need stuff I never even knew about.

This is just clearly one more strategy of The Man to get us to empty our pockets into his coffers.

In the end, we went to a couple of stores. I bought some sale yarn that I will be needing, and some cheap measuring cups and spoons to replenish my ever-dwindling supply (where do those things even go, anyway?). Not a disaster, but it made me think about how much of our community is only set up for spending money, and not for spending valuable time.

Must take this to the table next time I'm asked to sit on a city planning commission.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Oh, it's like butter!

Dear Amy,

Is it possible that some needs don't become needs until we know about them? Because before today I never would have said I needed a 100% cashmere sweater. Apparently I have never worn something entirely made of cashmere before. I found one at Savers for $3.50. At first I just stroked it on the hanger for a while. Then I tried it on, and almost started weeping right there in the dressing room. Honestly, I considered pulling the price tag off so I could pay for it without removing it from my body.

I know I can justify everything because it's used, it was half off (actually almost free because I had a $3 off coupon), and I don't have a lot of sweaters and it's 9 degrees here every morning, but really I just want to say that I now know I have a very deep need for cashmere.

I am going to sleep with my new sweater, I think. It is like butter, only not greasy.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Some Good Finds

Dear Leslie,

The past few days have been quite eventful. It's finally cold here and a sweater is no longer sufficient for Hannah so we went shopping Friday. We went to a small local thrift store that had two racks of children's clothes, nicely divided by color. Not overwhelming and the nice thing was it took 5 minutes to look through the stuff and we were done. Nothing. So I opted for convenience and we checked out the children's consignment store down the street. They actually had 4 pairs of 7 slim jeans, one of which Hannah liked, but sadly they felt "weird". We did find a very nice jacket that felt "good" and paid too much for it, but she was warm for our 32 degree day today. I'm thinking consignment stores are a little pricey used goods and only for special occasions.

Saturday, we decided to see what the mice and ants have been so excited about in the garage. Turns out, chicken broth in little cartons. Who knew? We cleared the whole garage out and now it is a sparkling thing of beauty. We got rid of a whole van full of stuff and jam packed our garbage and recycling cans. Plus, I found a purse that Micah threw up on that I chucked out there a couple of years ago. In it I found $3 cash, a $3 coupon to our local book store that now sells used books and a nice watch that Kalani bought me for Valentines day when we first got married. Grand total: over $300 worth of goods! That reminds me of the time in high school when I cleaned my room and found $60. It really pays to keep things clean.

Today, on a wild goose chase (to find a DI trailer) that my Verizon navigation sent me on, I got a flat tire. Fortunately, I made it off the freeway and slid right into a gas station. A nice young man, whose New Year's resolution was to help people in need whenever he could, helped me change the tire. Unfortunately, my New Year's resolution added some extra work to that task since we had to unload all the junk, but everything ended up nicely.

So here's the BIG find. I decided to drop off my donations to the Goodwill and found my new hangout. All in a row, Goodwill, Salvation Army and "Thrift Shop". There's the volume I need to find those 7 slims! Probably will be overwhelming, but I will save all the money I just spent on my new tire.


Friday, January 7, 2011


Dear Leslie,

Well done, you! I have been doing some serious thinking about why our family is doing this this year and why I am writing a blog after being passionately anti-blog for so long. I have many thoughts on both matters and but I've been waiting for the actual answer to come to me so I can stop thinking about it and get on with it. Thank goodness for Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir!

Have you heard of this guy? I came across him a few weeks ago when we first started talking about our project. He's an anti-consumer activist who has an evangelical delivery style. He and his Choir tour around the country putting on shows and campaigning their causes. Last night I watched his movie, What Would Jesus Buy? (Produced by Morgan Spurlock, Super Size Me guy) on Netflix instant watch. He's not a Christian, but he's trying to get people to think about Christmas, what the message of Christ really was and to stop shopping. He may be a touch irreverent, but I think he's clever and the choir's songs are witty and fun! The movie reminded me of some things and helped me solidify why I'm doing this and why a blog.

Why I'm Doing This

I asked K why we're doing this and he responded that for him it's not so much to save money or to be ecologically conscious, but he wants to purify himself from influences (The Man, greed) that get him off the path of what life is for and who he is meant to become. I wholeheartedly agree with that, but I'm going to add more.

I think it's always so interesting how there are almost always two camps to politics and issues like these. There is the camp that wants to save the earth and protect human rights and there is the camp that is focused on saving the individuals' souls and spirituality or religiousity. I believe that these two camps should not and cannot be separated.

For the most part, we have no idea what affect our purchases have on the earth or the people who are making them. I think it's pretty clear what will happen to the earth if we keep producing and consuming at the rate we are going, I mean, we've all seen Wall-E, but we don't understand our individual impact. And most of us have no idea that the shirt we're wearing made in Bangladesh was probably made by a child existing in daily misery to satisfy our thrill for a great deal and a full closet. Unfortunately, the reality of our world today is that many of the comforts that we enjoy come at the expense and suffering of many people. When we consume without thought and AWAREness (I do read your blog sometimes!) we are hurting the earth, we are hurting people (often children) and how can we do this without it having an impact on our soul?

So, I am doing this to consume less of the earth's resources and reduce waste. If I do have to buy something new, I'm going to try to buy locally made or buy fair trade items to support the rights of people to fair wages and working conditions. I think that being more aware of these things and doing my part will be good for my soul. And then, of course, I just don't want to be driven by the need to buy and have.

Why the Blog

At first I didn't want to blog. Then I thought, "okay, let's just do it, you and me. No one will read it anyway." But then I thought, "Well what's the point then?" You and I can have these conversations on the phone and I can get a lot of other things done at the same time. If I'm going to take the time to blog, I want it to do some good! I guess that movie woke up the sleeping activist in me. I really care about this stuff and I want other people to care too! We all need to care!

I am usually very quiet about my personal convictions and beliefs. I hold them closely and protect them. I get really passionate about things but I reign myself in when it comes to sharing those things. It seems like a lot of the time when people are passionate, they get labeled as "radical" or "fanatical". Also, it makes people uncomfortable when they hear about ugliness and that they may be playing a part in it. They'd rather not listen to that. Am I more concerned about people and their well being, or am I more concerned about what people think of me? Maybe it's time I stopped caring about what people think of me.

I've read some books and articles, seen some videos, I know only a tiny bit about this topic. This year I'm going to learn more. I'm going to learn about what products and corporations to avoid and which to support. I'm going to share what I learn here about how to live simply, frugally, sustainably and with awareness of others.

So what do you say? Let's be activists too!!


P.S. I promise my next post will be shorter!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

One step forward . . .

Dear Amy,

I'm not going to call it a step back. I'm not even going to call it a step sideways. Maybe it's not even a step. But in any case, the step forward was good.

Monday night we went to the BYU Museum of Art to see their Carl Bloch exhibit. Everyone needs to go to that, if at all possible. It's free, and it's awesome. Sorry to taunt you. I know you can't go. But it's really, really good. Anyway, Taylor raced through while Bret and I used the guided iPad tour and took our time. This gave her several hours to spend in the gift shop, trying to figure out how to burn the January allowance she'd received two days earlier.

By the time we staggered in to the gift shop, she had made her final decision. A coloring book. I looked at it, and it was cute. I came close to letting her get it. But first I said, "Do you really need it?"

T: Moooooomm! It's my money. I can do what I want with it.

L: That's true. I'm just asking you to consider before you buy. This is what I'm trying to do every time I spend money. Do you really need it?

T: Of course I don't need it. I just want it. And I'm buying it with my money.

L: Okay. If that's how you feel, you can get it.

Then I wandered around the shop for a minute, and looked at stuff I don't need. As we were getting ready to buy the book and leave, Taylor put it back on the shelf and said, "You're right. I don't need it." And that was that. She wasn't playing the martyr or anything. She was able to walk out and not look back. I felt it was a small victory.

And now about my step back, or whatever it was. Today is my day for shopping and running errands. I've been feeling smug, because I haven't bought anything this week. I forgot that Thursday would be the real test. I ran some errands, and then decided to just pop in to Savers and see . . . if they had anything I needed. They did. Running pants that I've been needing for a while now, because all of my running gear is made for seasons other than winter. Brand new pants are uber expensive, and I've been waiting for these used ones to show up since long before the temperature dropped below 20 degrees. That was great. I found some shoes, barely worn, in a color I don't have, and of the brand I always wear because of my foot condition. Great. I hesitated, because I don't seriously need them right now. But here's the thing: when you need something, you can't run into a thrift store and find it in stock. You have to anticipate what you will need, and buy it when it shows up. This opens the door for a huge justification exercise. I think I was moderate.

It will get really boring really fast if I catalog every single expenditure and try to justify it here, but this is all new, so I'm going to give some extra details while I figure things out. I got the shoes. I'll need them sometime soon. I got two sweaters, because my brown sweater is too big for me, and this one looks much nicer. I don't really have light cardigan-type sweaters at all, so I got the other one, partly because it was half off. I'd forgotten my coupon, so I felt a little guilty about that, but I'll go back and use it later this month for Taylor or Bret.

I felt good about it overall, because I resisted the temptation to shop through all the clothes. I skimmed through and told myself I was going to be temperate, and the sweaters were what I needed most. But I can see that it will be difficult not to look into the future and predict a "need" whenever something good shows up.

In the meantime, errand day is over and I'm safe until next Thursday!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It's All About Convenience....Kind-of

Dear Leslie,

I agree. It is going to be harder than I thought. I had a three item list of things I was going to buy before the new year, and of course I didn't make it to the store. So on Sunday, I had some time to myself and I started thinking about what it was going to be like to try to find size 7 slim jeans at a thrift store that a child with extremely sensitive skin will feel comfortable in and I started to panic. Then I started to really think about what my new reality of shopping will be like.

This is how it has been for me. Make a list, get in, get out. If it takes longer than 3o minutes to find what I need, my head starts to hurt. The fewer choices the better, so I usually stick to smaller stores for clothing. If I can find a good deal easily, that's great, but I will pay more for convenience.

I started to mourn the convenience of Target, Gap Kids and Internet purchases and the feeling started to feel strangely familiar. It's almost the same feeling I had gearing up to cut out sugar and start eating only whole foods. It means that things just aren't going to be easy any more. I can't just grab something to eat from McDonald's (Target), I have to take time to make it (find it). I actually have to harness my desires. I couldn't eat Kalani's cookies and cinnamon rolls anymore which actually left a void because we ate treats together for fun and entertainment....umm, do I shop for fun?

Ah, self-honesty. I always tout the fact that I hate to shop, which is true...kind-of. I hate shopping for things that I need and get frustrated when I can't find them. I do, however, like to buy on a whim. I, like you, at times wander around stores to see if there is anything else I "need". I don't usually buy a lot, but new towels or place mats have been known to give me a little thrill. I like to buy the kids little treats when we go places. And then I realized that, embarrassingly enough, a good portion of our family outings revolve around trips to Ikea, outlet malls, or other such destinations. I'm also shocked, shocked I tell you, at how often I think about buying things, even if I don't actually buy them. I thumb through the cute toy catalogs, fill up a shopping cart on websites (and most of the time don't check out), wonder what would make my house look a bit nicer or more organized, and think about what type of clothes I would like to wear if I actually decide to buy them. So, yes, I shop for "fun".

So here's what I hope will happen this year. I hope that I will feel as good buying second hand and redefining "need"as I do when I eat healthy food. Like you, I have a feeling that not being around all the "junk" will be extremely liberating and that I will find new, more important things to focus my thoughts and time on. I think my home will even shed some pounds and feel a whole lot better. And even though it will be a lot of "work", I think that I will feel a more real sense of satisfaction buying used and being a better steward over our money and our earth.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Changing My Mind

Dear Amy,

This is going to be harder than I thought! All day Saturday I was making New Year's resolutions, getting myself organized, and thinking about what I'd like to do during the upcoming week. I need to get myself back into a routine, but I also need to relax a bit after all the wedding festivities and traveling of the past three weeks. So I can sit at home and watch movies and knit (fun), or I can go shopping . . . wait--I can't go shopping!! At least not the way I usually do. It hadn't registered with me before that I shop for fun (I know you can't conceive of doing this), and I can't really do this if I'm only buying what I need. I guess I can, but it won't be as fun. Why am I just now figuring this out?

Here's what the old me did: I'd go to a thrift store and spend hours picking through every single skirt or pair of jeans, and usually come away with two or three items that I couldn't pass up. If I went to a thrift store that had sales, I'd usually limit myself to sale items only. Or I'd go someplace like Target and wander around the perimeter of the store where all the clearance items are and end up buying a couple of things that were too good a deal to pass up. Rarely were these items what I really needed. I'd hardly ever spend more than a few dollars, but that's not the point, is it?

I can't emphasize enough how many times I had this thought that I could go shopping on Monday and had to squelch it. So I have to make a major adjustment in my thinking here, which I hadn't anticipated. I'm making a list of things I need, so I can look for those when I go out. It will end up being more of a treasure hunt than ever! But I will have to resist those great deals if they're not essential (unless I can convince myself that it belongs in our emergency preparedness kits or food storage, or I'll need it to make some awesome gift which is not even a twinkle in my eye at this point). I have to keep reminding myself that it's not so much about saving money--it's about reducing consumption. That is my new mantra.

On the other hand, the idea of not going shopping leaves me feeling kind of free. I could do anything to improve myself or help others, without the temptation of wasting time shopping getting in the way. This is very nice, and I imagine it won't take me long to get used to this part, anyway.