Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2 months later...

Since I completed this experiment I've been amazed at how often I get asked about it. Sure, most of the time people's questions are somewhere along the lines of 'have you started any other crazy experiments lately?' but it's kind of nice that people actually took a few seconds out of their own hectic lives to think about whatever it was I was trying to achieve.

I don't think I ever really had a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve; I was hoping that the experiment would enlighten me to its own benefit in the end. I certainly learned some good habits, gained a reputation for being a little bit nuts and, most importantly, came to realise my terribly bad habits and frequent hypocrisy.

I have spoken to quite a few people about the experiment and they seem to think that it would have been more of a challenge if it had gone on a little bit longer. They argue that perhaps then my friends would not have been so frequently generous and that my creativity would truly have been tested. But, to be honest, I was really desperate to buy soya milk and soya yoghurt by the end of the experiment and went straight to the store the day after it finished to buy them. So I was quite content with the length. And by content I mean to say that it tested my patience enough.

The evening of the end of my experiment was spent getting atrociously intoxicated with copious amounts of gin after a formal dinner at my college so I'm ready to argue that perhaps I learned nothing from my experiment. But then I decided that I was going to try to buy nothing new except for food, hygiene products and products that maintain things I already own (for example, I have a leather jacket that was my mother's when she was my age and I buy wax to keep it in good condition - yes, I wear second-hand leather). This went well except I was still buying ludicrous amounts of second-hand clothing on ebay and I really wanted two plate stands so eventually caved and went and bought them from John Lewis. I also wanted a blush brush and couldn't find a non-animal one second-hand so bought one from Boots. I haven't bought anything else new in the last two months but that's not really the point; I set out with a goal and failed. And I can't really think of more first-world things to fail on then a plate stand and a make-up brush.

I sold my car so I didn't fall back into my habit of coffee on the weekends in Waitrose (although the hipster and I sometimes shop there during the week if we are cooking something 'exotic'; that is, it requires shiitake mushrooms or tamari) and I haven't needed to buy fuel but it also means that I haven't been to the allotment in a very long time.

The thing about bad habits is that you slip back into them slowly without really noticing. It's also easy to justify small blips along the way when you aren't looking at your overall behaviour over a longer period of time. And this is what I had been doing until this week when I arrived back from Berlin and was held up in passport control at Stansted airport and missed the last train back to Cambridge. The last bus was also sold out so the hipster (who patiently waited for me after taking 30 seconds to get through passport control) and I had to take a £60 taxi back to Cambridge. Coupled with a rather large bill from college (I went on a lot of swaps to other colleges for formal dinners last term after my experiment finished) I decided that I should probably be a little bit more spend-thrift for the next month or so. So I came home and instead of going to the store and buying more food to cook dinner with I just used what was in the freezer, fridge and cupboard. And I did the same thing tonight. And instead of buying bread I made bread. And instead of buying high protein vegan snacks, I made some. Suddenly I had enough meals to last me a week without having to go to the store once. And that's when I realised it: money makes me lazy.

I'm not about to start my experiment again; I still want to be able to buy soya milk, medicine, vitamins and the occasional exotic ingredient in a new recipe. But I'm definitely going to avoid buying anything new and I'm going to start updating this blog regularly so that I can share my ideas with others and so that I don't fall into bad habits as easily.

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