I’ve roughly structured my guidelines for purchases around the “Use it up, wear it out…” saying.

Use it up:
If I use something up, I can replace it. This includes food, toiletries, make-up (a product that is used regularly and gone can be replaced, a “wander around Sephora and get three new lipsticks” is not allowed).

Wear it out:
Running shoes are the only shoes that are allowed to be replaced because they’re a specific kind of shoe. In general if a casual sneaker “wears out” I need to “use up” one of my other pairs of casual sneakers. If all my underwear falls apart during the year, I suppose I can buy some more. Seems unlikely. I don’t anticipate much wearing out, at least that can’t be mended and made to do.

Make it do:
This will be my life. Mostly I expect to make do.

Do without:
I have so much, it’s hard to imagine I’ll have to do without. If I want a book, I can go to the library or borrow from a friend. I can accept gifts, though gifts can’t become a backdoor to getting tons of stuff. Maybe I can barter a piece of fabric for a skein of wool, or something along those lines.

A few exceptions:
Experiences aren’t part of this project. We have a few vacations planned, but there’s no shopping or buying stuff while on them. My gym membership is “used up” every month and I will continue to renew it. Exercise is critical to my mental and physical health. Also going out to dinner with my husband isn’t prohibited. But non-tangible stuff is disallowed: no MP3 purchases, no eBooks. I can watch the occasional on-demand movie or go to the symphony. But I can’t buy a new dress to do so. Make sense?

My kids are young and growing, and will need some new clothes during this year. I make a lot of their clothes, and plan to buy fabric to continue to do that. And I like to buy consignment stuff for them. But in general, kids aren’t part of this project, within reason. No one, kid or adult, is getting any fancy designer jeans!

Gifts are exempt as well. I can buy gifts for other people, though again I’m a big maker of gifts. So I am allowed to buy materials to make gifts, things like yarn for scarves and fabric for pillows and skirts.

Also I’ve got a NOLS Backcountry Exception Rule that may or may not be enacted.


In 2012, I'm not going to buy anything except what I've used up or worn out. For all else, I'll make do with what I already own or I'll do without. I've come up with some guidelines. Update: for 2013 I'm going to continue along, but not as strictly.


I'm Meg Hourihan. I live in New York City but was raised in Massachusetts. I blame my Yankee-ness for this crazy idea. Read more about me and this project.


Some answers to frequently asked questions.


Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @makeitdo
Tumblr: Ask me a question



via RSS