Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm joining the Compact for 2010

In anticipation of joining the Compact for 2010, I headed over to American Eagle today to buy my son a new pair of jeans. I have my fingers crossed that my thirteen year old son won't grow this year and that the three pair of jeans he now owns will tide him over until year end. Somehow, I know this won't be the case and I will be forced to find pants for him at a resale shop. Looking for used kid sized pants that don't have holes in the knees or stains is pretty impossible, so I am worried. Even as I write this, I am thinking about how Ryan probably will need new shorts this summer too and maybe I should order some for him online tonight before I officially join the Compact at midnight.

The Compact is a group of people that decide to avoid purchases of new products for a full year with the exception of personal care items and food. Recycled and used items are allowed in place of new purchases. I have considered joining the Compact in prior years but felt I did a pretty good of managing purchases on my own. Lately, living in a more style conscious area, I have found myself more influenced by consumer goods and really would like to stem the flow of stuff from entering my house. Since moving here six months ago, I have purchased (or received as gifts for Christmas) three new pairs of pants, four t-shirts, three long sleeve shirts, three fleece shirts, two pairs of shoes, 3 scarfs, a hat, and two down sweaters. Unfortunately, in the month prior to moving here, I picked up about eight other articles of clothing. Yikes, all total, probably enough stuff to keep me clothed for many, many years.

In the days leading up to the start of the Compact I have felt the challenge of not buying anything new for a year sounded easy, but as I sit here writing about my purchases in 2009, I am worried. Obviously, I am much more caught up in stuff than I have been willing to let myself believe. In my defense, I think of the ironed patches covering the holes on my bedsheets, my ten year old car in the drive, my antique bedspreads, shoes in my closet I have had forever, and many, many other old goods I own and use. I am reminded that not all the stuff I have in my life has to be new. Maybe it is just the clothing...and the shoes...and the coats. Yes, that really is where my problem lies, but it probably is in other areas that I am not even aware of as well. Starting the Compact and thinking about not buying anything for a year will shine a light on where I need to make changes. As I think about it now, after writing this post, I am afraid. The challenge doesn't sound easy anymore and I hope I am able to live up to the challenge. I want to be successful because I understand from others that have participated in the Compact before me that much insight can be gained about what really is important in life. A big lesson for the cost of a few less pairs of pants.


Wendy said...

I never "officially" joined the Compact. I think my husband would have had some rather negative things to say ... although he might not be so against it now ... hmm?

Anyway. I never joined the compact, but I have participated in numerous "Not Buying It" month-long challenges, in which I bought NOTHING, except food and toiletry items, either new or used. After those month-long challenges, limiting my purchases and sourcing out used items for free became a kind of challenge for me.

What I've found is that there are very few things I need or want anymore, and many times I can find the things I need AND want on e-lists like Freecycle or at Goodwill (or the used bookstore). Sometimes, if it's something that I really need or want, someone will just give it to me, out of the blue. Very weird how it's all worked out.

Some places you might want to check, if you haven't: freecycle, PaperBackSwap and their sister site, SwapADVD, thrift stores, consignment shops and used bookstores. I have had so much fun checking out these sorts of places, and I've discovered the truth in the statement "One man's trash is another man's treasure."

Good luck, and I think I will enjoy following your progress :). At the end of the year, I think you'll probably find that you no longer enjoy the consumer-driven life, and you'll be very proud that you were able to meet all of your needs either with good, used stuff you bought or were given, or by repurposing something you already had. One thing about the "not buying it" life is that you become incredibly good at creative problem solving :).

Darcy said...

Thanks for the great suggestions on where I can find used books, clothing and other stuff. When I lived in Illinois, I frequently shopped at Goodwill but have yet to try it here. I also loved garage sales and flea markets. In fact, all of my furniture has been found at either flea markets or antique shops with the exception of our couches and chairs.

I look forward to discovering where I can find used stuff around here when I feel I must have something, but mostly will try and not buy anything at all. I think participating in the Compact for a year will help to remind me of my values and keep me away from being consumer driven.

My husband is on board with the Compact but did warn me that he will need new work shirts sometime this year. He told me he already wears his shirts until they look like S--t, and that he doubted I would be able to find used shirts that would be acceptable for a job in Manhattan. Not sure how I am going to handle that one.