Kick-start zero waste: 6 week shopping ban

Your zero waste kick starter {and holiday hangover cure} is here. In the first six weeks of 2019, I’m committing to a shopping ban. Join in!

If you haven’t seen my other shopping ban posts or need to learn what a shopping ban is, check here (1, 2). I’ve done two shopping bans in the past, for a total of 7 months in 2018. There are a million reasons to consume less and reduce your waste, but let’s not make a resolution to “be more zero waste” (a vague statement if ever there was one) and add whatever our perception of zero waste is to our shopping lists.

The zero waste kick-starter shopping ban will feature guidance for each week of the ban to help get a handle on what you already own and using those resources to reduce your waste.

The rules

  1. Buy necessities, like food, rent etc., but if something breaks for the next six weeks, be prepared to be resourceful. The exception is dependents who might really need something; nobody’s trying to stop you from buying your kid shoes. Apart from that, no new things, useful or otherwise, should enter your life via shopping during the six weeks.

  2. The shopping ban excludes groceries and utilities, but it most definitely extends to secondhand and ethically made goods. Thrift-o-holics, it’s time we get a handle on this. Despite Maclemore’s famous words (“It was 99 cents!”), nothing is a good deal if you don’t need it.

  3. This is a shopping ban, not a spending ban, so spend to outsource repairs as is necessary. Maybe an old watch needs a new band or your favorite wool coat desperately needs a cleaning to be wearable; if you can’t repair things yourself, paying for repairs or putting them aside while you save up is completely inline with the zero waste shopping ban.

  4. While we fix, stitch, and make do, don’t forget about the ban part. Use what you have and borrow what you don’t. Maybe you have to stitch up a black dress but only have navy blue thread; give it a try. Make repairs with the resources you already have instead of buying other products to make repairs, even if it’s imperfect.

  5. Solve problems as they arise. Don’t set aside every issue that comes along for the end of the six weeks when you can buy away your problems. Superglue and the internet are good places to start for making do and repairing.

  6. Don’t go at it alone! During this period if you need something you don’t own, look to those around you. Friends and family are almost always happy to help, and like us probably have resources they can go without, at least while you need them.

  7. Finally, when the ban is over, don’t make up for the past six weeks with a shopping spree. The first and most important R is refuse, meaning saying no to new things comes before buying products designed for zero waste when you have suitable resources.


You don’t have to declutter, but there will be suggestions and hints along the way to help you find homes for the resources you might not need. It’s tempting to toss all of your conventional products for greener versions. The shopping ban is a great way to help curb that, but for the backups, extras, and just-for-fun products we accumulate, there are other options as well.

How do I prepare?

Well, the opposite of the point would be to run to the store and stock up on things or make some ahead of the game purchases to prepare for the six week shopping ban. There really isn’t much to do to prepare for the ban unless you already know you need something.

Personally, I will try and find a pair of sunglasses before the ban begins; if you’ve read about my other shopping ban experiences, you’ll be unsurprised that another pair of sunglasses was lost in my service recently. Keeping it zero waste, I will research reparable sunglasses brands and if there are none, find another pair secondhand.

With homes and spaces feeling a little overfull after the holidays, the top of the year is the perfect time to take inventory of what we have. And if your new years resolution this year is to have a lighter footprint on the planet, start right where you are, not in-store or online.

To stay updated with the ban, be sure to subscribe below! These updates will only be for the six week shopping ban.