Friday, August 10, 2007

Day Forty-Four - The Compact

Don't Buy Anything New For A Year (or a Month ;-)

I don't know if you've heard of The Compact, but it's a group of people who have pledged not to buy any new consumer goods for an entire year. It started in San Fransisco when a small group of friends made an informal vow not to buy anything new in 2006, as a way to break from the consumerism of America. Since that time, The Compact has grown dramatically and includes "Compacters" from all over the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe and even as far as Australia and Hong Kong.

The credo of The Compact is based on the Mayflower Compact and is as follows:

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact; 2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er); 3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

I gave compacting a try in July and was amazed at 1. how simple it was and 2. how much money I saved! I didn't buy one new thing for a whole month (just groceries, and some used clothing and used books). I did not step foot in a single Target or Walmart store. And I didn't shop online either. I was tempted at first, but I think shopping is like an addiction. Once you take a break from it, you actually crave it less. So as the month went on, it actually got easier.

Think about all the junk you accumulate (brand, spanking new, but junk, nonetheless) every time you step foot in Target. Things you don't need, or could easily pick up used at a garage sale or thrift store. Now think about all the energy and resources that go into making that product, packaging it and delivering it to you. Now imagine if you stopped buying all that crap for just one year. You would produce a LOT less packaging garbage, you'd have more space in your house and more cash in your wallet. It's a win-win-win situation!


It's hard to say what I would have bought if I'd been going about my normal shopping routine, so calculating a trash and/or energy savings is difficult. So instead, I'll just give you the monthly percentage difference between January - June expenditures and the July expenditures (yes, I track it all, yes, I'm a geek, but you knew that, didn't you?) - 30%. That's right folks -- THIRTY PERCENT. That's the difference between living simply and buying a bunch of new crap that we probably don't even need. Frightening.

Difficulty Level: 4 out of 5

This is really hard at first, but like any bad habit, it gets easier to change the longer you work at it. I don't think I could go a whole year, but I think I'll definitely try again. I fell off the wagon last week when we got Daphne her "big girl bed" and I went nuts redecorating her room with girly flowery stuff. The interesting thing is that, before I'd heard of compacting, I would have taken pictures of her "new room" and bragged to the whole family about it. Now, with my new attitude, I'm actually embarrassed about the money I spent and even more so about the resources I devoured. Funny how changing my ways for just a month has changed my outlook forever.


amy said...

i do this more so because i'm poor, but i do feel better knowing the money i spend in resale shops goes toward better things than big business and more useless marketing. i buy all my clothes from thrift's great, its like a shopping spree that only costs $20 at the most!

you rule. rock on. :)

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BarryF said...

So you did this for just a month? Hmmm... wonder why? We are trying for a whole year and can't see not making it. I enjoy your writing style and voice.