Year for the Planet Weeks 18-52: Buy Nothing. The End.

Year for the Planet is a campaign to make better choices for the planet. 2017 was when I fixed my eating habits. This year, 2018, is where I deal with my clothing choices.

For those following this project, this year’s sustainable clothing goal didn’t exactly die—I just mostly opted out of buying new clothes. There was nothing new to write about. I realized early on after my epic and dramatic house decluttering that I had everything I needed. Spring clothing for my Vienna residency? Check. Fall clothing for my Beijing residency? Check. There were tiny holes in my decade-old coat but I can live with those.

As I’ve written before, there is an inherent loneliness to intentionally deciding to opt out of something that occupies most people’s time. Shopping (or thinking about shopping) defines most of human activity nowadays, and unless we rethink our capitalistic systems, I imagine that people will be wondering what to do with their lives if they didn’t perform the recurring tic of responding to advertising.

No season better encapsulates this than the holidays. It’s house arrest for me, where I read, write grant applications, talk to friends online, and clean as these are infinitely preferable to going to another sterile mall and joining the hordes of middle class and elite suckers with glazed eyes and empty wallets. I may design apocalypses for a living but I don’t want to be one of these zombies.

Perhaps the temporary high of being able to buy something shiny bandages over the deeper cuts of missing things that money cannot buy, such as friendship, love, family, personal accomplishments, high self-esteem, and so forth.

The bane of being an artist is that one inadvertently becomes that kid in The Emperor’s New Clothes. “He’s naked, you halfwits!” In my case, it’s like a daily reaction of going “But you don’t really need that!” or “Do you really like your job?” or “What is your life’s purpose?” but all these have put off people and so I just shut up, stay home, and give myself a facial.

This is the second and last Year for the Planet project for a while—I think I got the drill. DIY as much as possible, buy nothing or in bulk or as little as possible, and snarl like a mean girl each time someone comes up to me wanting to sign me up for a credit card that comes with a free pizza.

Hug your loved ones, it’s free! Happy holidays!


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