the ‘no retail shopping’ challenge

The no retail shopping challenge was a year long and ended May 26th, 2011.  I get a lot of questions about it so here’s what it was all about:

What was the challenge?

The challenge was no retail shopping for one year. This meant no shopping in retail stores, with the exception of groceries and toiletries.  (I didn’t want CPS taking my kids away for my radicalness)  Groceries and toiletries are the only new things we could buy and did, in the process, learn better ways to make those purchases.  The only places we shopped is thrift stores, resale shops, craigslist or any other places that had second hand stuff.   Now the one small issue here is that sometimes I had to buy things at work for stage sets or marketing.  I still had to make those purchases because I needed my job.  Read the blog posts…

Why did I do this?

Because I felt like it.  Actually, the idea just popped into my head one day and I decided to do it.  I wanted to live differently, meaning finding creative ways to not buy stuff I really don’t need, to share stuff with others, to not be wasteful and to be more environmentally friendly.

What motivated me?


I have been reading many books lately about poverty and homelessness.  Among those are Under the Overpass, Trolls and Truth and Irresistible Revolution.  I have a long list of other books that I had on my reading list, but one at a time.  😉

The one thing I love about all of the books is these are all about ‘ordinary radicals’, people that have chosen to sacrifice their life to follow Jesus’ examples of living.

I bought the domain name a while back, with many different intentions of what I could do with it.  Since then, I’m blogging here on  We have so much waste in our American culture.  We are raised to do anything and everything that will make our lives easier and more comfortable.  Well I am finally uncomfortable with comfort and irritated with ease.  There is so much suffering in the world and we can all make a difference by intentionally choosing to make some simple changes in the way we live.

A while back, I was channel flipping on my TV (my nice big flat screen TV that I just really needed to buy with the monthly satellite TV package that everyone needs in order to live because we must be entertained if we’re awake, right?) and came across a show called Hoarders.  If you haven’t seen this show, check it out.  It’s a little bit like watching a train wreck.  It’s awful, quite disturbing and yet you want to look at it.  I’ve watched many episodes of it and came to one conclusion.

The only difference between these hoarders that are being showcased for reality show entertainment and the rest of us watching is that the rest of us don’t have a problem getting rid of (most of) our stuff.

We buy stuff, lots of stuff and when we are tired of it, we give it away or worse yet, throw it away.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have been guilty of this many times in my life.  And being a person who loves to buy used things, shop at thrift stores and is all about getting a great deal, I appreciate that someone bought these things new.  If people didn’t buy new cars and sell them, there would be no used cars for people like me to buy, which by the way, I drive a 1997 QX4 that I bought used.  I wouldn’t trade it in even if I had unlimited money.

Art project

I’ve also done a lot of artwork around this topic.  My art show was called ‘excessable’, a word I made up, meaning the excess in our society and just how accessible it is to us.  Here’s a few photographs from that art collection.

What was the outcome?

The best thing to do is to send you to the blog post from the last day of the no retail shopping challenge.  [day 365]  To sum it up, it changed me and the way I shop and interact with material possessions.  I’m now doing a year of getting rid of one thing a day and blogging the items.  In the process, I’m downsizing quite a bit and choosing to not have as much stuff.

6 thoughts on “the ‘no retail shopping’ challenge

  1. Pingback: FPU Week 12 Summary – Real Estate & Mortgages
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  2. I just found your blog. I really like your challenges, and they inspire me. I would like to know how you did with your retail shopping challenge. Do you have a link to the update on that please?

  3. I found your blog tonight when I stumbled upon your box tops photo on the net. I love your format and idea for the minimalist challenge by documenting each item in a public format. I’m a “recovering” hoarder and accountability is the key and will keep my motivated.
    Thanks. I linked your site to my blog.

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