Pursuing my new mantra of "Live Simple" this morning I stumbled into a story about a group of friends in San Francisco who created The Compact a yearlong agreement to not buy anything new. The idea intrigues me.
Could I do it? I'm tempted to try it. Their agreement began at the start of this year and more than a thousand participants have joined them.
They identify the goals of their Compact as:
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)
This is far from a nihilistic retreat from materialism. They are not saying buy nothing just don't buy anything new with the exception of food, health and safety items and underwear (thank goodness I think I'm still scarred from my mother insisting I wear my grandfather's boxers after he passed away). For all other material goods that you must have buy used.
I'm going to experiment with using Craigslist, Amazon, classifieds and second-hand stores over then next two months. The hardest things for me to remove will be gifts, technology purchases (Craigslist may save me there), and music (though I don't think mp3s should count since the artist is remunerated for their work and I don't consume anything but bandwidth).
If my trial run works, I'll sign The Compact for 2007.
The result, John Perry the Founding Member of The Compact explained in Sierra, may be not just a reduction in consumption and waste but,
more time and money to spend hiking, taking classes, going to performances, and eating with friends. Life gets richer and more oriented toward experiences.