Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bare Necessities

I like to believe that I'm fairly thrifty and that I don't shop without a purpose... I'm not usually one given to mindless purchases or overindulgent spending. That said, I have a lot of "stuff" and on occasion I do buy things that I don't need, and things that I didn't have any intention of getting. I almost always like what I buy, but I often don't need it and sometimes I feel a bit wasteful about it... but not enough to take a stand. Until now.
I have come across an idea so revolutionary, so simple, so easy and so difficult... so foreign and yet so close to my heart. It's called Compacting... you can read stories about it at In a nutshell, it is getting out of the consumeristic rut and finding mindful and resourceful alternatives to shopping. Even as the big consumer holiday season is just around the corner, I'm considering taking the plunge and getting back to the basics of life. Here are a few excerpts from the Compacting compact...
To aid us all in getting started and sticking to the regime, I've compiled the guidelines we set in stone at our great dinner a few weeks back.
As agreed, The Compact has several aims (more or less prioritized below):
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)
So, here goes for the rules:<>
First principle - don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
Second principle - borrow or buy used.
A few exceptions - using the "fair and reasonable person" standard -- i.e., you'll know in your heart when you're rationalizing a violation:
food, drink, and necessary medicine (no elective treatments like Viagra or Botox)
necessary cleaning products, but not equipment (don't go out and buy the Dyson Animal, for example).
socks and underwear (utilitarian--non-couture or ornamental)
pajamas for the children
Utilitarian services (plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, veterinarians, dog/house-sitters, fire/paramedics, dry cleaners, house cleaners, etc.) -- Support local and encourage used parts (rebuilt transmission, salvaged headlight unit, etc.)
Recreational services (massage, etc.) & local artisanal items - Good sources for gifts, but should not be over-indulged in for personal gratification
Charitable contributions (
Seva, Heifer, and the like) - an even better source for gifts
Plants and cut flowers - Whenever possible, cultivate from free cuttings or seeds. Ok in extreme moderation (yo, incoming oxy) when purchased from local businesses (i.e., not the Target Garden Shop)--and again, within reason
Art supplies - First line of attack:
SCRAP. When absolutely necessary (for the professionals and talented amateurs in the group), from local businesses
Magazines, newspapers, Netflix - renewals only, no new subscriptions. Even better to consume online
Video rentals and downloadable music files (non-material) -- freely shared and legal, please
So, blog me your thoughts...
Oh, Bare Necessities is a waltz from Waltz Book Volume Two.

1 comment:

Megan said...

simple sounds nice. . .