Why I follow the buy once philiosophy | Cottage Retreatist

Why I follow the buy once philosophy

I’ve been meaning to finish this blog post about my buy once philosophy for quite a while. But it was reading the fantastic ‘The use it up challenge and our nothing New Year‘ from Our Next Life that encouraged me to finish this post off! Ms.Our Next Life’s post talks about the horrors of what actually happens to peoples’ recycling once it is out of sight and how we still have issues with consumption. 

Over the last few years my mindset has made a 360-degree shift. More and more I am living my life making sure that I have a low impact on my surroundings. Stepping away from consumerism and thinking meaningfully about what I own and what I throw away to reduce my impact on the environment.

What is the buy once philosophy?

The buy once philosophy refers to how we consume in the CR household. I do not like buying things and when I do I like to make sure that we purchase products that have a long lifespan. We have all had those experiences where we buy an item of clothing or (in a particular personal case) bedding and you go and see it on offer in a bargain store and pick it up. But it’s actually a false economy. Once home you realise it’s too thin, or it doesn’t wash well, so within the year you have to get rid of the item and purchase another.

Now imagine doing this for the rest of your life. The number of items a single person might get through because the item they bought was not actually suitable for their needs in the first place. All of these items will, without a doubt, go to landfill or need to be recycled into new goods.

But what if we bought the right item in the first place. An item that perfectly suited our needs, and had the ability, when looked after, to last a lifetime (or longer). That’s the buy once philosophy.

The 'buy once' philosophy means buying right and looking after our possessions #buyonce Click To Tweet

How does it work?

As part of my buy once philosophy I look for items that are robust, made of quality materials (usually going for natural materials or materials that are easy to recycle) and that are classic so they don’t ‘go out of fashion’. This means looking at items that many of us might recognise from our parents or grandparents’ generation.  More wool, cotton and enamelware. Less synthetic products, plastics and disposable fashion. More mending and patching of items to keep them going. Less disposal of items because we ‘don’t like them anymore’ or we’ve ‘bought a better one’.

I buy things that last! This means keeping my clothes for longer and caring for them. I tend to wear the same work dresses for years at a time, and have the same ‘house clothes’ I’ve been wearing for the last 9 years (some longer!).

It also means making sure the items you purchase work for you. We were gifted lots of furniture years ago that we have carted around from rental to rental but as they were cast offs, the furniture never really suited our needs/style or the fitted the items we needed to store. So over the past year we have been looking on eBay to find pieces that better fit our style and needs and (slowly but surely) replacing items that don’t work for us (which we have then also sold on eBay)!

How is this frugal?

By buying once, we don’t have repetitive purchases. This (looking at a lifetime spend) works out cheaper in the end. If I consider all the times I have bought porcelain mugs and within a year or two, through one reason or another, these mugs were all broken or chipped and unsafe. Yes, they make great broken chips for the base of a flower pot, but what if I never had to buy a mug again because I bought mugs from a much tougher, more durable material. Enter the enamel mug: my favourite purchases ever. In fact enamelware, in general, is my favourite material because not only is it durable, has multiple uses and is almost invincible, it is also cheap!

My grandmother still has an enamel plate her mother picked up from Leicester market in the 1930s. Now think how many ceramic plates you’ve gone through in the last 10 years! 🙂

When I do replace something I tend to buy cheap second-hand furniture (which I think lasts longer than flatpack furniture anyway) and sell the items we want to get rid off. We have a one-in-one-out policy and I am a sucker for 1930s-50s furniture!

Sometimes the outlay is higher. I have personal experience struggling with making purchases that are slightly higher cost so this is where looking for cashback deals or waiting for sales really helps! We bought a duvet on impulse from Aldi that we didn’t like because it was scratchy, synthetic and made rustling noises every time you turned around. After doing some research I found a fantastic wool duvet that was made in England from natural fibres. This cost about 3 times more than the Aldi duvet but waiting for the sale and finding cashback we managed to get it for only 50% more! And it is soooooo much nicer and will last forever and once it eventually does give up the ghost,  it is naturally biodegradable so won’t have an environmental impact.

So what do you think about my buy once philosophy and do you find yourself, more and more, buying better quality or products made from natural materials? Or buying more second-hand products than buying cheap, disposable products? I would love to know your thoughts!

Why I follow the buy once philiosophy | Cottage Retreatist

This post is part of the Financially Savvy Saturdays #178 link-up party hosted by brokeGIRLrich. Follow the linkup on Twitter using #FinSavSat.

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5 thoughts on “Why I follow the buy once philosophy

  1. I think it depends. My husband hates to shop for clothes and he doesn’t care if he has worn the same shirt once a week for the past five years. He gets no pleasure out of having a new one. For him, it makes sense to buy high quality clothes that will tolerate being run through the washer weekly. I like new clothes. I get pleasure out of shopping for them and wearing them. It’s great if the old one still fits and can be used, but I like getting new clothes on a regular basis. Also, women’s fashion changes–that ten year old dress probably looks ten years old even if it has never been worn. Paying extra to make my clothes last “forever” just doesn’t make sense; they are going to hit the Goodwill bin long before that.

  2. I agree, very much. I try to buy durable stuff whenever possible, and get very disappointed when I realize I haven’t and have to spend again. Similarly, I hate renting something that buying can pay for in a couple of months, like Internet routers/modems.

    It reminds me of my favorite Terry Pratchett quote (and any time I can quote Terry Pratchett it’s a good day.)

    “The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

    Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

    But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

    This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”

  3. I’ve been doing this for years, probably for ever. I am very picky over what I buy, and not swayed by other people’s expectations and certainly not by marketing: I spend more time than money on a purchase, usually. I inherited two enamel items- my Grandpa’s pint mug and a bread bin, but my preferred crockery is 80s Denby stoneware which has lasted well. It’s either all in one piece or not- no half measures, no chips flaking off in the washing-up. I counted 2 pieces lost in the last 25 years- a bowl and a tea plate, both dropped 4 feet onto concrete. Boots are difficult to buy- I have wide feet and may soon have to resort to granny magazines to get what I want. Til then I budget £20 every other year for a pair of Ecco Runners off ebay that would cost something like £160 new, if Ecco still stocked that design. I think I’m getting a bargain- because for £160 the boots would have to last 16 years and I wear them every other day in winter, starting from when I put away my summer sandals. I think you’re on the right track.

  4. I would much rather buy once, even if it is difficult to get through the initial outlay. People rave about primark but I’ve never been able to bring myself to buy any of their tat (apols if you’re a fan). I read a quote that said something like every Pound you spend is like casting a vote for the kind of world you want to live in. That helps guide my spending

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