Julie Boulton (the greening of) — Issue #60

I failed. My one year ban of no shopping was beaten by New York.

It’s over. I shopped.

It happened on Day 2 of my New York trip. We’ll get to that. But I need to drag out this newsletter a little bit and build up the suspense so let me start by describing the 24 hours that existed pre-shopping, when you all believed in me and I thought I would never waver (I never really believed that).

My first day on the streets of Manhattan began early. I started with a super coffee from a café next to my hotel (a cappuccino that allayed all fears of being on a land of bad coffee). I wandered down Midtown to Union Square, found the local famers’ markets where I gorged on a punnet of blueberries. I made my way across to the Chelsea Markets in the Meatpacking District and ate a hotdog with sauerkraut and chilli on the pretence that it would assist with jetlag, (it did and that was a bonus). I walked the High Line, which did not disappoint. I found my way back through Times Square, cavorted towards Central Park, taking the obligatory picture of Trump Tower, found myself at the steps of the Met where I re-enacted the infamous Sex in the City scene of Carrie escaping her wedding to Big, joined the sweaty mess of people on the subway for a trip to Soho and a walk along the Bowery, finishing back in Midtown for a bowl of noodles, a cold beer and a bed.

Not one shop was entered.

Day Two. And this is where we shall end the virtual tour of New York because the drought was broken. In retrospect, perhaps I should have prolonged shopping until Day 6. That way we could have continued on this illuminating jaunt of mine through New York, but it was not to be, plus the adventures disappear as the next few days would consist of descriptions of meetings rooms only and a breakfast that consisted of cream cheese with a side of bagel.

I was severely sleep deprived and a little sore in the legs on Day Two. I made my way to the city ferry (cheaper than a metro ticket) and headed to Brooklyn for two reasons: to catch up with old friends and for purchase number one — a bag from the Feed Store. Coincidentally, the Feed Store is located almost exactly where you get off the ferry in Dumbo. It would have been wrong to have not gone in. Once in I remembered that I have wanted a Feed bag for a very, very long time and that I had promised myself years ago that if I ever found myself in New York I could get one. So I did, and I am happy. Except I think that purchase opened the damn so to speak and it bought the floods, to continue with the water metaphor.

Purchase number two and three happened in quick succession. They were a pair of TOMS shoes and a Patagonia t-shirt. Great stores. Worthy causes. The Feed bag donates school meals to children (the bag I bought provides 185 school meals). TOMS donates one for one — you buy one pair of shoes and they donate one. As for Patagonia — I can’t love it any more. Check out the photo above to see the level of information it provides about its clothes. Also, both the Feed and the Toms shop exist only in New York, which added to the appeal. (Patagonia is in Australia, but it the actual shop, with its Repair cafe, just happened to be right next to TOMS. And I smelt.)

I could have stopped there right? These shops should maybe have been the only shops that I entered. They almost were too, but then I met Rosie. She’s not a stranger, a point that I think is important to clarify. She has been living in New York for just over a year now and is a rather snappy dresser — she was this before she left for New York and still is. Two days before meeting her, I had sent her last week’s newsletter as a warning/cry for help. She was undeterred by that or perhaps, just like Husband, knew that my shopping ban was never going to last two weeks in New York.

We met at 4.00pm. At 4.05pm, we were inside a shop that she had suggested. At 4.15pm I had purchased two t shirts, one pair of black pants, two work dresses and a denim skirt. At 4.30pm we left the shop.

It’s not Rosie’s fault. While she enabled the visit to the shop, (I would not have gone into the store without her), she didn’t force me to buy. Nor did the sales assistants or the random lady sitting on the couch in the fitting rooms who was most complimentary about everything I tried on and purchased. (Note to shops — employ randoms to sit in fitting rooms to pass judgement on other people’s outfits in the fitting room as compliments from strangers are a really effective strategy to encourage purchases.)

I broke. Husband was right. I couldn’t last. Breaking the ban does display a lack of self-control (I don’t do diets either) but was it really shopping? It was purchasing to replace, to a list and with some thought involved.

  • The TOMS, Patagonia t-shirt and two work dresses were bought to replace broken shoes, holey t-shirts and tired work dresses).
  • The black pants, denim skirt and two extra t-shirts (making a total of four that I now own) were on my list of things that I was planning on buying in 6 months’ time.
  • I knew who I was buying from. Feed, TOMS and Patagonia I know well. The fourth shop — the one Rosie took me too — was Everlane. I had heard of it but Rosie told me more about it while we were there and I liked it and I bought stuff and then I went home (ok, so yes, this was after the fact which is not quite the way it should be) and read more about it and I think it’s ok.

Was it really shopping? Please say no. Years ago, or even a year ago, I think this could have gone down so very differently. I would have entered many, many more shops, especially given I was out on a weekend with no children in tow. I could have gone into any shop I wanted to and tried on everything but, this time, I didn’t want to. Four shops, four purchases and I was done.

What happens to the ban? Do I start all over? D I add an extra day at the end (it was only one day after all)? Do I claim that New York was just a blip and I continue on as if no clothes were bought (shame that I have just admitted everything to all of you though — makes it harder to pretend that it never happened although I could still call it fake news). I kind of think the experiment is now over but I’m not proposing to go on a shopping spree. I really liked the break and the fact that shopping just was not an option. Therefore, I am proposing to install permanent six-monthly bans from now on, meaning I purchase at 6 monthly intervals only and that all items purchased at that time must be on a list and from a business that is reputable. No splurging and no random purchases, even if a random in a dressing room encourages me to do so.

Surely that approach is sustainable, helpful and good and also means that I can call this experiment a success, even though it was just slightly shorter than expected — only by half though so I almost made it! New York. New York.


The shops


About Feed | FEED — www.feedprojects.com 
 On her travels around the world as a World Food Programme (WFP) Honorary Spokesperson, Lauren Bush Lauren witnessed the effects of hunger firsthand. In places like Cambodia, Chad and Guatemala, she saw a program making a dent in child malnutrition: school meals. When a child is given a free, nutritious school lunch, it can break the cycle of poverty she was born into and empower her to change her own life.

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TOMS® Official Site | The One for One® Company — www.toms.com 
 With every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need. One for One®.

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Everlane — www.everlane.com 
 Shop Everlane now for modern essentials. We make the most beautiful essentials, at the best factories, without traditional markups. Free shipping on 2+ items.