Tuesday, April 1, 2008
So thanks to Crunchy Chicken's Buy Nothing Challenge, I'm back on the bandwagon. For a full month. In April. When the tax refund will come in. What the hell am I thinking?
For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept of Compacting, here's the lowdown:
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).
The rules for compacting are pretty simple:
#1 - No purchases of brand new stuff - save food, toiletries, medicines, underwear and work-required items
#2 - No, you can't cheat, See Rule #1
It's pretty simple. Don't buy shit. If you do need to buy something you have oodles of alternatives... you can hit the thrift store, check out craigslist, post on freecycle, cruise the garage sales, borrow from your neighbor, or, God forbid, dig through your own crap to see if you can cobble up something that will meet your needs. If all else fails, I do allow myself to purchase locally-produced, hand-crafted items, but that's probably cheating.
It's difficult to calculate the savings on this, since it's hard to guesstimate what I might have spent. However, if I take the past 12 months' average consumer goods spending (which includes Christmas spending and several significant home improvement projects like replacing our leaking hot water tank), I can estimate it would be somewhere in the $975 range. Yikes. According to a Professor at Syracuse University, every consumer dollar we spend puts .5 lbs of carbon into the atmosphere. So my month of compacting will, theoretically, reduce my family's carbon footprint by nearly 500 pounds.
Difficulty Level: 4 out of 5
Ooooohhhh, it's so hard to get that refund in the mail and NOT go on a "buying green products spending spree"! But this is actually great timing for me. I have definitely drifted away from Compacting over the last couple months and have gone overboard on the buying. And now is a good a time as any to draw in the reins a bit.
I Compacted for a month before (July 2007) and I know that shopping, for me at least, is a simple addiction. One that is easily broken by staying out of the stores - both in person and online. Instead, I'll be heading to the library more often and getting my "fix" at garage sales and - in just two short weeks -- the farmer's market!