No Shopping: Interview with Kate Daly


If you haven’t heard already, we have issued a Recloseted No Shopping Challenge! We are challenging you to stop shopping from January - June 2019 to end unnecessary consumption and help us right the harmful fashion industry. Sign up and accept the challenge.

To inspire you to sign up for the challenge and show you that it can be done, we are thrilled to post Raissa Alvero’s interview with Kate Daly, the Executive Director of the Center for the Circular Economy, at Closed Loop Partners.

Which events in your life inspired you to do a Buy Nothing Year? What were your spending habits like before?

Several years ago I was inspired by the Black Friday shopping frenzy to observe that day as a Buy Nothing Day, and in 2016 I decided to go even further, and attempt a Buy Nothing Year.

Although I’ve always been conscious about consumption and my carbon footprint, I found that every time I started making a little more money I saw an uptick in my spending, in particular to upgrade my wardrobe. I would buy something that was a better version of something I already had, but still not perfect, so I would eventually start shopping again. And yet like many people, every morning I couldn’t find anything I liked in my closet. Online browsing for clothing had become a habit. Experimenting with a Buy Nothing Year seemed like a great way to break some bad habits and live in a way that was more aligned with my values.

How did you approach and plan for your Buy Nothing Year?

On January 1st I just thought, let’s see how long I can last. I set rules that I could buy food and toiletries, but no objects, so no clothes, books, magazines, household goods, etc.

What was the most difficult behavioural shift to change? What did you miss most during your Buy Nothing Year?

The first month was the most difficult. We’re all encouraged to be addicted to stuff. But resisting those impulses got easier the more I learned about where all our stuff, especially clothing, comes from. The film True Cost made a powerful impression on me during that period.

How did your life change during the course of this practice and after?

My Buy Nothing Year changed my life in the best possible ways. When you’re not buying things online or in stores, you have a lot more time for other parts of your life. I went into the back of my closet and started wearing clothes I had forgotten about, and tailored some clothes to turn them into something new. Without any packages being delivered to our home the volume of trash and recyclables we generated decreased significantly. I saved a huge amount of money. I felt lighter.

After my Buy Nothing Year ended, I didn’t jump right back into buying things. The experience opened my eyes to the world of circular fashion, which is now an important part of my work at the Center for the Circular Economy in New York. We are currently partnering with EON Partners on a project called Connect Fashion, which explores the power of the Internet of Things and intelligent digital design to ensure transparency, sustainability and circularity across fashion, apparel and retail.

Now, with every purchase I ask two simple questions: where did this come from, and where will it go when I’m done with it? Once you’ve hit pause in order to do that research, and investigated whether the supply chain and life cycle of an object aligns with how you want to treat other people and our planet, it’s easy to see what kind of stuff you really do and don’t need in your life.

Thank you so much to Kate & Raissa for this amazing post!

Kate Daly is the Executive Director of the Center for the Circular Economy, at Closed Loop Partners. The Center is a NYC-based hub for collaboration, R&D, investment and innovation and works to advance the transition from a linear take-make-waste economy to a restorative one in which materials are shared, re-used, and continuously cycled. Follow her on Twitter @K8_Daly or at the Center @LoopFund.

Raissa Alvero is a visual arts industry professional currently based in Vancouver.