Don’t buy anything new, but how is that possible?

Sébastien did not buy his new phone. No. He recovered an old device that his friend no longer used. Less out of budgetary interest than out of conviction. “I bought a smartphone once and since then I have set myself a principle: I will no longer buy a new smartphone. It is a very stimulating position in principle”, explains this future market gardener in his forties aware of the issue of waste and waste management. So, when the Zero Waste France association – of which he was a member – launched the “Nothing New” challenge at the start of last year, Sébastien set off on the adventure. The principle seems simple: avoid buying new non-perishable products. But in practice, this means finding alternatives for a large number of everyday objects, from furniture to household appliances, from clothes to high-tech objects. Easier said than done, especially over a full year.

So admittedly, the recovered smartphone is really not the latest model, so admittedly, it cannot install all the applications, but Sébastien is pleased with “this concrete implementation” of the challenge. Also committed to a more environmentally friendly way of consumption and to this challenge proposed by Zero Waste France, Charlotte Graff, for her part, slightly sprained the challenge when her smartphone was stolen. At 32, this translator who has resumed her studies to become a conference interpreter needs to be contacted. “I was interested in a fairphone, these phones that take into account the environmental and fair side, but I had to give it up,” she explains.

Question the need

In one year, sprains in the challenge are indeed inevitable – for Sébastien, it was to change glasses even if he was informed on a site offering second-hand glasses – but the problems that arise allow at least to be resolved. ask the question of the necessity of the purchase and the possible alternatives. “The first step is to question your needs when you have an intention to purchase”, explains Marine Foulon of Zero Waste France. “It allows the act of buying to become thoughtful. And it allows to consider alternatives. If I need the object but not necessarily in the long term, I can perhaps borrow it or it. to rent.” It is true that second-hand rental or sales platforms and a craze for the Do it yourself provide a favorable context for this challenge. Especially since 77% of French people say they have changed their consumption habits in recent years to act in favor of the environment, according to the Observatory of emerging consumption of ObSoCo in early 2018.

And the participants in the challenge are not lacking in imagination to circumvent the purchase of a new object. Need furniture for a move? “I recovered a few pallets and spent a few weeks building a chest of drawers and a bookcase. I started doing DIY on this occasion, it took me a little while but it brings particular satisfaction”, says Sébastien, who also recovered furniture from those around him: “In one day, we fitted out the living room with what we recovered.” Need to update your wardrobe? “It was pretty easy for me because I’m not really a shopper,” recognizes Charlotte Graff, who lists the possibilities that exist such as online vide-dressing and stores that offer second-hand. The only constraint: it takes a little time to find something that suits you. “What is needed is to put in place new habits even if you don’t feel guilty when you sprain your gait.” “It becomes a game to look for alternatives”, adds Sébastien. And Charlotte Graff to show how to make a roll of reusable paper towels using squares of fabric connected by snaps …

99 electrical and electronic objects per household

“What is most difficult are the gifts, to take on the challenge, to talk about the process around you,” says Marine Foulon. An impression shared by Sébastien. “We can pass for a little extreme green. My old phone, an old thing, made my 12-year-old niece laugh a lot”, he explains even if he notes all the same that the approach is more and more more its way into people’s heads. For gifts, he made the choice to buy new but to buy local products. “When the kids want Lego at Christmas, I buy Lego and tell myself it’s their choice. But I offer a lot of second-hand books and to avoid wrapping paper I use fabric from an old duvet cover that I fold with the Japanese technique of furoshiki, this makes it possible to reuse the packaging “, indicates Charlotte Graff. And to prevent her relatives from offering her new objects, she prefers to ask for money and dispose of it according to her convictions.” My sister gave me anyway. a bamboo teacup and metal straws, “she says, acknowledging that” the thought was kind. “It’s hard to break habits.

If avoiding buying new items as much as possible also has an effect on the wallet – “this year I saved at least three new furniture and with clothes and other items that I would have had the opportunity to buy new. and that I did not buy, I may have saved 500 euros over the year “, judges Sébastien – the objective is to save resources. The Zero Waste France association, which relaunched the challenge this year, is also offering this time a tool to find out the quantity of raw materials saved by not buying a new object. A microwave bought second-hand makes it possible, for example, to preserve 2 tonnes of raw materials, assures the association not based on data from Ademe. For Charlotte Graff, who is more broadly committed to a “zero waste” approach, it is “trying to reduce waste at the source”. The Ademe recalled in September that the French estimate to have 34 electrical and electronic equipment per household. They actually have 99… 6 of which are never used. A pool of objects likely to have a second life?