Sunday, December 31, 2006

Compacting and NonBuying

Quite a few mamas over at AmityMama are planning a 2007 NonBuying/Compacting challenge. Inspired by the book Not Buying It by Judith Levine, as well as the original 2006 Compacters, this group of mindful mamas are planning to reuce their consumption to the bare minimum.

Here are the original Compact rules:

In light of the destructive effects of personal greed, we pledge to curb our purchases, cease frivolous buying, and choose to simplify our lives. Excepting only those things needed for work and the health and safety of our families, we pledge not to buy new. Further more, we will actively seek to pass on possessions we no longer want to those who are in need. In doing so, we hope to educate both friends and family about the corrosive effects of being in a constant state of want, nurture in ourselves the uplifting state of giving, thus reducing the load on the environment and creating a more sensible path for our lives. For these reasons, we join the Compact.

- Aaron Highe at the SF site (paraphrased)

Many mamas are taking it a step father, choosing to reduce their purchases of used goods as well. There are varying degrees of participation, and everyone is making their own set of rules. Mine are still a work in progress. Also, my DH is not actively participating, making this a one woman show.

What I want to change:

I will carefully consider each purchase I make, even in the exception areas. I will strive to see if I have something that I can use before assuming I need to buy something. I will consider the food I buy, the amount of (used) clothing that comes into the house, and where any allowed new goods come from and what they are made of (natural materials, organics, fair trade, fair labor, etc.)

This is the year of making do. No new towels, no new sheets, no new furniture, no new small appliances, pans, or kitchen gadgets. No new decorations for holidays or decorative house items. No new hair accessories, or aprons (but I can sew one), or jewelry. Certainly for 12 months we can make do with what we have.

It is also the year of making. If we want fancy soap we'll mill it from the plain soap we have on hand with herbs and essential oils. I will make the new pot holders I need (I have the loom and wool loops). I really want to make the quilt I planned out (just need to scavange more denim and corduroy).

All my and the boys' clothing except underwear, socks, shoes, and boys' pajamas must be bought used, traded for, borrowed, or received for free. We're not frivolous shoe purchasers anyway, but I will only replace necessary shoes (sandals and walking shoes) that are beyond wearing. The boys may each have one pair of sandals, one pair of sneakers, and one pair of hiking boots, and I am ordering T-Guy a new pair of slippers for next fall and will pass his down to J-Baby. This goal is actually a continuation of one started last summer, except that we won't make exceptions for sale new clothing.

I will stop buying the little stuff - a toy here, a snack there. You know, the kind of stuff that will nickel and dime you to death.

Food must be carefully considered and chosen based on need. Natural sodas (the kind made with cane sugar) are out. Prepared snack foods are out (it will probably be a month or more before they run out of the GF pretzels, microwave popcorn, and organic fruit leather we bought for consumption during my recovery). Chocolate will be okay for special occasions (organic and fair trade, of course). DH will still buy wine and tea. I will make whole wheat bread, but will purchase vegan GF bread. Canned beans are allowed as an emergency food.

Our goal is to eat out only twice a month, coinciding with payday, and only at local establishments. We will have to make some allowances for travel. We also have to figure out how this works with family, as both of our families prefer to get together at restaurants rather than cook meals (large holidays excluded). I am more than willing to cook, but people don't always want to come to us, nor do they all like eating vegan food.

No new books. First I see if the library has the book I want to read; if not, I see if I can borrow it from someone I know. If it is a must have book (for information, no fiction allowed) I will find it used. My book addiction is serious especially since half the time I realize I could have done without whatever book I ordered from Amazon. In addition to not buying new books I will not browse used bookstores or the thrift store for books that I am not specifically searching for. Really, I have enough unread books here at home to keep me reading all year.

No magazines purchased in stores. I have subscribed to the magazines I am most likely to pick up, and will read the others at the library, go without, or find a way to borrow them or buy them used. I do have one homeschooling magazine that I need to call and order on the 3rd (no online orders).

No new music. This isn't usually an issue for me until holiday time, but I am putting it out there now.

I am going to inventory our craft supplies and choose projects based on what we have. We have so much to choose from that we just have to say no to some of the great stuff out there. It will be okay to replenish consumables such as glue, chalk, crayons, etc. Even then I don't anticipate needing to do much more than replace the frequently used Stockmar colors. We do need 9 X 12 drawing paper.

We will make all greeting cards or use our stash cards (scavenged by my dad). We will recycle gift bags, make wrap, and use any old wrap we have.

I will not buy new yarn until the stash is gone and even then I will try to find sweaters to frog. Any yarn purchased after the stash is gone must be for a specific project. The exception to this will be if I decide to make hats for any kids as I don't have any superwash wool and I don't anticipate many parents wanting to care for merino or alpaca.

I am going to learn to sew. Any fabric purchased new must be for a specific project. However, before that I will use reclaimed fabric, thrift store fabric, etc. I have about 5 yards of flannel but certainly do not have a stash and am not going to build one.

I have begun studying herbalism. I will allow myself to purchase necessary supplies to make herbal medicines and personal care products. This is an investment year; I may need funnels, storage jars, etc. that I will never need again. Still, I will source used goods whenever possible (please don't suggest pickle jars...I never seem to be able to get rid of the pickle smell and I will not ruin good herbs that way).

We are allowed to purchase what we need to start our garden, including minimal tools, lumber for raised beds, seeds and starts, soil amendment, etc.

Photo paper and inks are permitted.

Artisan goods are allowed. Entertainment is allowed if it falls within our budget. Experiences are allowed.

Items I didn't get around to purchasing in 2006 that are still possibly on the slate for early 2007: a wool mattress pad for the boys' bed, a futon mattress for FIL to sleep on when he is here (if he decides to come weekly), ear phones for my iPod (yes, I have's nearly 3 years old), a clothes rack and/or umbrella style drying rack. I'm going to try to find alternatives (such as finding a used king-sized 100% wool blanket and felting it for the boys' pad). I planned to buy ear phones before now, but haven't been able to get out to try any.

I'm known for putting things out there and not having them work out (hence the fact that I am blogging before 1/2/07, but I'm bed bound right now so my brain and fingers are what is working). I'm not perfect, and I don't expect perfection, but I do expect to try with great effort. We may come to need something that we can't find used, and in that case we will buy it if not buying it is causing us to waste resources.

The goal is to step off the consumer treadmill. It's so easy to change or refine your values and still find yourself marketed to. 18 years ago not many were marketing to me as an organic consumer, but they sure as heck are now, and they are polluting the standards while they are at it.

I'm sure I'll revise this in the weeks to come.

1 comment:

  1. Ambitious and smart! What a great idea, I will keep track of your progress and bring in a few ideas to our home too!