Livin' The Compact in 2009

I have always been a thrifty gal who gets a thrill out a great deal, be it after Christmas sales at the mall or a fabulous retro find at a flea market. Most of my wardrobe since high school has consisted of funky items from the Goodwill mixed with stuff from the clearance rack at Old Navy. I'm also a sucker for well-loved antiques or other misfit cast offs. I love both their history as well as their potential, and have rescued many a defunct piece of furniture, painted it, and turned it into a great new find. It isn't just thriftiness or living on a budget that has drawn me to this type of lifestyle, though, but also the importance of reusing as a major component in recycling. Over the years our family has become avid recyclers, and we try to produce as little waste as possible, buying in bulk, using our own shopping bags, reusing yogurt containers and cereal boxes as building blocks for Alice, and taking our travel coffee mugs to Moxie Java. So, it probably wasn't a big surprise to Eric when just after Christmas I announced that I wanted our New Years Resolution to be committing to The Compact for one year.

There is one simple (or not so) rule of The Compact: buy nothing new for a year. The Compact is an idea that started a few years ago with a group of people in San Francisco and has since spread nationwide. The group has several stated aims:

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.

2) To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er)

3) To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

We've agreed to follow two principles:

#1 Don't buy new products of any kind (with some exceptions like food, toiletries, and underwear!)

#2 Borrow, barter or buy used

Eric and I had been trying to simplify our lives for a while, and the idea of The Compact really appeals to us (admittedly, more to me than him, but he has been converted). We knew it would be a challenge, but we were up for it. We live in such a materialistic society, one that got us into this economic crisis in the first place. And even for us, it was still going to be hard to break those old habits of purchasing new. The fundamental question for us was (and still is): will we be happy without as much stuff in our lives? We're well into month 5 and I have to say, we are.