She won $5k to not shop

Melissa Gulbin of Lismore has won an award for her contribution to Buy Nothing New Month.
Melissa Gulbin of Lismore has won an award for her contribution to Buy Nothing New Month. Cathy Adams

A PLEDGE to stay away from the shops has paid off handsomely for Lismore mother-of-two, Melissa Gulbin, who has just won $5,000 in a competition to promote the concept of buying nothing new.

The Buy Nothing New in October campaign, funded by a coalition of charity and second-hand retailers, called on consumers to commit to buying nothing new except food, medical and hygiene essentials during October.

The aim was to highlight the waste of consumerism leading up to Christmas.

As a "carrot" for people to pledge, a $5,000 competition for the best promotion of the campaign was launched, which Ms Gulbin won by organising the Rugrats Rummage, a swap-meet of children's' clothes at Lismore City Hall.

"I already had a bee in my bonnet about wasteful consumerism," Ms Gulbin said.

"It's crazy what we can buy into just to keep up with the Joneses," she said.

"In our grandmother's generation they didn't use the word sustainability, but they practiced it by handing things down, watching what they bought and fixing what they could."

Ms Gulbin, an event organiser, decided her entry into the Buy Nothing New competition would be an old-fashioned clothes swap event, in which parents donated two green bags full of used children's toys and clothes, and then filled their bags full of swapped goods.

"It wasn't as busy as a Boxing Day sale, but the good gear did go very quickly," she said.

Whatever clothes were left over from the rummage were then donated to local op shops.

After making a home video of the event, Ms Gulbin is now writing up a "how-to" tool kit so that others can learn from her experience in setting up a swap event.

As well as the Rugrats Rummage, Melissa Gulbin had to stick to her pledge of buying nothing new all month, which she said was easy enough for her given she is a "die-hard op shopper" already.

"I will go out op shopping on a $15 budget with my child in the pram, and I'll be able to have a bit of retail therapy and still have change left over for a coffee," she said.

"The month was easy, however I did discover I have a relationship with stationery," she laughed.

"I kept wanting to buy sticky tape and I wanted a new pair of scissors, but couldn't find a second-hand pair," she said.

After nearly buying a vintage pair of scissors online, she settled for borrowing a pair from a friend, proving that most things we buy new can be sourced sustainably.

Given the family car broke down half way through October, most of the $5,000 is earmarked for necessities, Ms Gulbin said.


What do you think about excess consumerism? Leave a comment below.

Topics:  christmas clothes consumer spending shopping

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