Back to Listing

Paying lip service to consumerism in October

18 October 2011

A few years ago when times were tough, I had to ration my foundation and lipstick for *very important meetings*. I simply didn’t have the money to replace them and needed to have a strategy around when to put my best face forward. 

During that same timeframe I had to really think hard about every item I bought. Not only did I find creative ways to save money but I also questioned what I really needed in my life. 

October is ‘Buy Nothing New Month’, a great collaborative campaign by a team which includes the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Salvos. It’s a time to reassess what we really need, think about where the stuff we buy comes from (finite resources), where it goes (landfill) and what our alternatives are.

If you really stopped to think about it, you would probably find you have a lot of unused and unopened goods in your home that you could put to great use this month.  

Whether you upcycle, recycle or freecycle, here are a few ideas to get you started:

1.Samples:  You know those little sample sachets of cosmetics, skin care, toiletries and supermarket products you often get given in stores or attached to magazines?  If you’re anything like me you’ve probably got a stash of these – why not use them all up this month, in lieu of purchasing new products?

2.Gifts:  Never has there been a better time to re-gift! Many people have a few unwanted presents stashed. Use some great recycled wrapping and give them a new life. (Tip – make sure you don’t accidentally give them back to the person who gave them to you!) Get baking, preserving or crafty and make other heartfelt gifts. 

3.Pantry:  Before you do your supermarket shopping this month do a check of your pantry to see what’s in there.
Plan your meals for the week around what’s in your cupboard (especially those items that are nearing their use-by date) to avoid wastage (and save some money along the way!)

Keep in mind that Buy Nothing New Month is not about going without, nor does it mean you can’t ever buy new again. What it does do, is make us think about conscientious consumption and by not spending on stuff we don’t really require, it can increase our savings for the things we do need. Or really, really want. Like a beautiful new lipstick.

Check out more ideas at

Melina Schamroth is the Founder and CEO of m.a.d.woman, inspirational speaker and author of three books. Melina established Single Volunteers and runs corporate team building events that make a difference. m.a.d.woman recently won the National 2011 Telstra Business Award – Yellow Pages Social Responsibility category. You can read more at