News / Calgary

Calgary roommates set out on ‘Buy Nothing Year’ experiment

Two Calgarians are taking the “Buy Nothing Day” concept and multiplying it by 365.

Roommates Geoff Szuszkiewicz and Julie Phillips set out on a “Buy Nothing Year” as of Aug. 3, an undertaking they plan to continue until the same date in 2014, when Szuszkiewicz turns 31.

As part this “life experiment,” the pair has immediately given up spending money on household and personal items – including things like cleaning products and clothes – and they plan to eventually ramp it up to a point where they pay for nearly nothing.

“In three months we’re going to discontinue purchasing of services – that means we’re not going to be buying haircuts, eating out any more, or paying for transportation,” Szuszkiewicz explained.

They already have a head start on that phase, however, as Phillips’ car broke down and she opted to give the beater away rather than fixing it. She now uses a bike as her main mode of transportation, while Szuszkiewicz has given up the bus and commutes to work on foot.

By the final month of the experiment, they aim to give up spending on groceries, relying instead on an at-home aquaponics system (built with donated or bartered materials), and supplementing their food stocks through trade.

They do plan to continue paying their power bill, however, and using their previously purchased electronics to document their journey online.

“We don’t want to be these extremist hippies living without electricity,” Phillips laughed.

If they make it all the way through the year – and Szuszkiewicz admits “there could be room for failure” – they plan to use some of the money they save to set up a grant program for others interested in taking on projects with similar philosophies.

That, and a little reward for themselves.

“We’d like to go on a trip to Thailand and get tattoos,” he said.

How things got started:

  • The pair got the idea after the June flood forced Juile Phillips to change her accommodation plans and move in with her friend Geoff Szuszkiewicz.
  • Phillips said she had to get rid of about 80 per cent of her “stuff” in the process, forcing her to re-examine her definition of “necessity.”

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