Tuesday, April 1, 2008

#198 - Consuming - Goods or Bads?

Joining Another Crunchy Challenge

FACT: I have been trying to Compact since last fall.
FACT: I suck at it.
FACT: Nothing motivates me quite like a Blog Challenge

Buy Nothing Challenge - April 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!


Vera said...

You are truly a brave woman. I wish this every month yet I am still pulling out the credit card.

Jennifer said...

Good luck! I joined, too... it will help with the goal to not buy anything new for our house remodel. :)

For me, I have to extend the not buying into the used market... that is where I gather the most junk. So, for me, I ahve to have a REALLY GREAT REASON to buy it used at all for this challenge!

organicneedle said...

I am going to do a modified version. I need new spring/summer clothes and don't really have the time or opportunity to cruise thrift shops. All of last years seem to have these mysterious little hand print stains. My version...everything needs to be sustainable. Trying desperately to find makers of organic cotton clothes beyond yoga pants. Not that I don't love me a good pair of yoga pants...but...I do leave the house on occasion. Okay...not quite the same as No Buy...but...I accept that I probably won't get a seat at the cool table.

Jen said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only Rioter who has still been spending money. I wish it was easier for me to stop. Even my husband told me he'd give me $100 if I made it the whole month, which is pretty damning.

christy b said...

Check out Ideal Bite's green tip for today - hard core compacting!:


Green Bean said...

I'm doing this too. I love it when you do the savings calculations. I'm math challenged and never bother with that stuff so I'll give myself a pat on the back now that I see what an impact we'll be having this month. :)

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

I am all for less crap around the house. I am all for cutting out mindless buying and buying as entertainment, BUT-Seems to me that buying locally, handcrafted stuff is almost as counter-consumerism as not buying anything at all. After all, what is the point of the anti-consumerism movement, just not acquiring more things or changing our values and approach to life? Local manufacturers/producers/merchants of soap, food, furniture or whatever are contributing to what will eventually make it possible to live a sustainable life. If such a thing ever does become possible. So I say, support those local yokels-they are the bulwark against the big shits.

Chile said...

Hey, as long as you're digging through your own crap, you might as well figure out what you can get rid of. I'm doing a challenge that can go along with Crunchy's for those who are ready to toss the crap.

Wendy said...

I'm on board, too. Although I decided against the compact (because it seemed a little like cheating for me to say I'm compacting knowing that my husband is free to buy anything, and if there's something I want, I could absolve myself by having him buy it ;), I did jump on a month's worth of not buying. I've extended it to thrifted items, as well, with the goal being not to buy anything I do not need.

Of course, I should REALLY define need :), because I can believe that I need a food grinder ... especially if I find a particularly good deal on one ....

Anonymous said...

This is a good excuse for me to continue to dress 100% frumpy for another month. I haven't bought clothes in over a year, and the ones I have look and fit like crap. But I'm saving the environment, right? And honestly, as long as I can still button my pants, I don't care. Wait. I do have one pair with a missing button. But I never tuck, so no one can tell.

Please encourage me to start running again! I'm blowing up like a balloon and will be forced to buy new used clothes once the buttons won't button anymore!

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain on the tax refund! I guess it's a mixed blessing at the BCC house that we ended up having to pay $100 more. - no refund check to tempt me.

At least the rebate/"stimulus" checks won't arrive until May...