This Zero-Waste Expert Waits 30 Days Before Buying Anything

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Public Domain. Unsplash / Gyorgy Bakos

Kathryn Kellogg explains why delaying gratification is beneficial all around.

The next time you feel a burning urge to buy something, Kathryn Kellogg wants you to stop, step back, and go home for a few weeks before pulling out your wallet. The California-based zero waste expert and blogger has a clever strategy for dealing with superfluous shopping (not including necessities such as food): She makes herself wait 30 days before purchasing, and she encourages others to implement some sort of enforced wait-time, too.

In a short YouTube video, Kellogg explains the numerous benefits of practicing strategic delayed gratification. First, it saves money because, after a month-long delay, you'll be less enthusiastic about buying a lot of those things that at first seemed so alluring.

It saves resources, which we are already consuming at an irresponsibly rapid rate. Kellogg mentions Earth Overshoot Day, which marks the day each year when "humanity's demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year." Earth Overshoot Day fell on July 31 in 2019, and if that's going to be pushed back at all, it requires drastic non-consumption on all our parts.

Kellogg didn't say this in her video, but I'd add that a 30-day pause slows the accumulation of stuff in your house and helps it to stay less cluttered. New purchases may add novelty and entertainment for a short time, but inevitably they have to be stored, cleaned, and taken out of the house at some point, whether by you or the people tasked with cleaning out your house after your death. (This is why Swedish Death Cleaning is so brilliant.)

An enforced delay can lead to creative solutions in the interim. Kellogg says, "Marketers have done a really good job of convincing us that we need one product for every task that we perform." But it's not true; you may find you have items that can be repurposed to serve the same function as the item you wanted to buy.

Your preferred wait-time might be less or more than Kellogg's. Even a seven-day hiatus can make a difference, although she says she needs at least 21 days to forget an item. Don't view it as a hindrance, but more of a vetting process, a way to "put the real stamp of approval" onto something you like.