How long could you go without buying anything new? A day? A year? An hour?
Members of The Compact, a San Francisco-based cooperative with dozens of spin-off groups, pledge to purchase only recycled or used products for a year. The exceptions are items for health and safety, such as food, underwear and motor oil.
Besides reducing consumerism's environmental impacts—packaging, pollution from manufacturing, transportation of goods—purchasing used items forces you to assess what is really necessary.
Locally, Durham's Scrap Exchange operates in that spirit, but check out yard sales, thrift stores, classified ads—even Dumpsters. (My husband and I once found a perfectly good '70s era Hammond organ in the Dumpster of a Mexican restaurant; the cook helped load the monster into our truck.)