Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Keep going....compacting important to me and family

Well, we are doing good so far, slight slip with new purchase of school supplies for next year, but other than unneeded purchases...we even got recycled paper for Holiday cards, if only they made recycled photo paper....we also have been recycling our printer ink and batteries...this is a step up for us.

We are hoping to con. recycling to include composting and buying only organic/locally grown foods!

~Thanks for your support, Kim S. (Earthmother2dd!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nine days and I've broken it already...

I bought fabric today. I needed some colours of floss so I went to Spotlight and came home with two lengths of fabric to make some summer work shirts out of... What I should have done, being that I only have a few summer work shirts (hang on, I'm only going to be working two days a week, how many do I need???) is buy them secondhand. I really suck at this Compacting... Bring on April and freedom!!!

This all doesn't say much about my self-control or commitment does it.... Nine days into Compacting and I've broken the pledge already. I can sook, flagellate myself, or get over it and move on. I think the last option is the best one.

I guess the best thing now is to actually make the shirts, instead of having the fabric get lost in my stash, like 90% of the rest of the fabric I've bought in the last year! Hubby agrees... He's on my case too. Sigh...

X-posted at

Melinda's 6 Month Compacting Pledge

Posted on my blog on 20 Oct.

I almost can't believe I'm doing this... I've been considering it for about three months. A friend of mine did 12 months, a whole year, of compacting which is where I first heard of it.

Compacting - The Compact has several aims more or less prioritized below:
  • To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.
  • To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-or).
  • To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact) . (Copied from Mama's on the Compact)
I have decided to Compact as part of an on-going project to declutter our home, to make it easier to keep clean, find things, be more organised. As part of a simpler way of living, because we are all so caught up in buying 'stuff' rather than being frugal and reducing, reusing and recyling. Our world can't handle the affluenza that is overtaking it. We are also as a family starting a "Money Makeover" and paying in cash for any purchases, keeping to a strict budget, and concentrating on clearing our debts. This Compact will support that.

So I am pledging that for the next six months, with the exceptions below, I will not purchase anything new. I will reuse, recycle, buy second-hand or go without.

My Compact starts from today, 20 Oct 07, and is for six months which ends 20 Apr 08.

My exceptions are: I can purchase thread, notions etc to complete craft and sewing projects, provided I already have a minimum of 80% of the items required here already. This includes paying for framing of some of my embroideries that will be completed in the next few months.

I can purchase my normal magazines, two quarterlies and one monthly craft mag, plus one environmental gardening magazine. These are used regularly as resources and inspiration, and read constantly!

I can purchase the fabric to make a skirt that I have been planning for the last two months. I saw a gorgeous skirt in a shop, priced at just under $200 and decided that I could make it easily. I haven't had time yet, so I'm giving myself permission to buy the fabric (probably under $30!) when I have enough time to make it.

Christmas presents. In the interest of saving my sanity, I am making an exception for buying Christmas presents. At this time, Christmas is two months away, I am completing assessments for a course I am graduating from in early december, working part time, looking for full time work for next year and preparing for an interstate move in early january. I will attempt to buy from Fair Trade, Cottage Industry and Local Artisans. I also have several presents already purchased, which does make this a bit easier!

When I start work next year (assuming I find work) I can purchase up to two pairs of suitable shoes.

I should also add that Eddie and Dian are NOT compacting. They can still buy new. This will be an interesting six months!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Jenny's One Year Anniversary

Today marks our one year anniversary on the Compact. That’s one year of avoiding the purchase of new items.

(BTW: If the headline caught you, you’ll have to scroll all the way down for the free stuff.)

We’ve done well on the Compact. Really well. And we’ll continue to compact indefinitely though perhaps not with the emphatic and zealous intensity of this past year. It feels nice to have made it to our one-year anniversary.

I’ve kind of lost steam this last month or so. Perhaps it was the anniversary looming in the distance that lessened my resolve. Still, this year I can count the new items we purchased on one hand: a snowboard for my husband, a pressure canner for me, a $10 dress and skirt from a store going out of business ($330 savings! How could I resist?), and an outfit for DS a few days ago when I wasn’t quick enough to take him to the potty. Not bad, though, is it?

The Compact has drawn a lot of criticism recently about its being “elitist.” Indeed the whole green movement has drawn that same criticism.

While detractors might claim that the Compact is elitist in nature, I must think that it is one of the most accessible paths toward green living. After all, avoiding new purchases is a choice that everyone can make. Eco-chic consumerism, by contrast, is accessible only to the wealthy.

Ideally, we should be mindful of our purchases reducing our needs and reusing what we can and that is exactly where the compact can help. After all, it’s estimated that for every $1 you spend on new consumer goods, you put 0.5 lb of CO2 into the atmosphere. That means that the average household spending $10,000 a year on new consumer goods puts 5,000 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere from their spending habits alone. By contrast, that’s more than half the amount of CO2 put into the atmosphere by driving an average 4-door sedan 12,000 miles each year. Buying something that is used and available locally puts considerably less stress on our environment and our budgets than buying something new, especially something new from a far distance.

The Compact hasn’t been without its detractions. I’ve complained about this before, but the decision to eschew all new purchases not only takes money away from the big boxes, but it also takes money away from small business owners and artisans which is why I ameliorated my compact to include new purchases from artists and crafters. I believe these people need our support and should not be lumped in with the consumerist machine of the big boxes.

On a personal level I imagined that compacting would be a revelation–that I’d come to my year’s end knowing more than I had previously. Silly. There’s been no revelation and little soul-searching. Instead I’ve just been trucking along quietly and joyfully, and learning to ask myself, “Do I really need this?” The answer is almost invariably “No.”

Sure, there’s been tough times.

As a mother who works in an office, I must present a modicum of professionalism in my dress. I am notoriously hard on my clothes and having wonderfully grubby toddler hands hold me has been all the more difficult on my clothing. Understandably, my work wardrobe suffered and no second hand shop seemed to carry anything that met my three simple guidelines: 1) be acceptable office attire, 2) fit and 3) look at least half-way decent on me.

By June I was down to one skirt, one dress and two tops. Soon after, both tops had holes and my dress literally fell apart in the wash. I was close to purchasing a new wardrobe from a company with questionable ethics when a mother from MDC happened to see my plea and generously sent me a box of new-to-me work clothes.

When you make a commitment to something like the Compact people are willing to help you reach your goal and that is beautiful. The compact is worth pursuing even if you only give it a month or a whole year. If you’re interested in signing up for the compact and blogging about it check out Mamas on the Compact and email me at (jenny @ green-mommy . com).

I’ve been recently inspired by gift-giving bloggers like Jen from Only Who I Am and Carrie at Natural Moms Talk Radio (you can still enter her contest for a free pilates DVD here). So, in celebration of our 1-year anniversary I’m giving away a copy of Compact Living, which is not about the Compact, as well as a mystery book from my stash of your choice of fiction, nonfiction or cookery.

Both books will be in excellent used condition because you should know by now that we just don’t do new around here. So comment away on this post to enter in the contest, and if you trackback from your blog to this post you will get two entries. And if you pledge to compact for any length of time at Mamas on the Compact I’ll put your name in the hat three times. I’ll put all names into a hat and the little dude will draw one out next Friday, October 19th.

So comment away, trackback and sign up for the compact. It’s been a wild year.

(X-posted at Green Mommy)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Limitations of the Compact

When I began compacting, I originally eschewed all purchases of new things. If it was new, it was gone from the shopping basket. End of story.

Yet, that wasn't very satisfying. Something was missing.

And, no, I'm not talking about needing new items. I don't. And, no, I'm not talking about finding fulfillment in purchasing. I don't.

Rather, I found that the commandment to avoid all purchases of new items--regardless of their source--was limiting and ineffective. In eschewing all new purchases, I couldn't support artists or craftspersons (the very people I ought to be supporting). It felt, in effect, like rejecting artists in the same vein as I rejected the big boxes was throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

So I amended my compact, and began purchasing new items from artists, knitters and woodworkers because they need our support very much. And by refusing to purchase new items from them, just as I refused to purchase new items from soul-less corporations, I was hampering the traditions of hand-made crafts.

So now, though I won't hop into Walmart and buy a new plastic toy for my little guy, I gladly wove my way through our Arts Festival and purchased a hand-made puzzle for him. And I mad that purchase without regret.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Gavrielah's Pledge

I originally started the Compact back in October. I did not follow through with my pledge at that time and stopped posting on my blog. I've been thinking about it a lot the past few months. and the only thing I can say is that I simply was not ready at that time. I was all for the idea of it, but didn't have what it takes to put it into action. I fully believe that I am ready now.

Here is my Compact pledge:

  • Buy only what is truly needed
  • Buy nothing new, except for health, safety, and needed consumable items
  • Borrow or barter before buying used
  • Prepare healthy, simple meals at home every day
  • Will completely eliminate processed foods and white sugar, white flour, etc
  • Will eat foods in their proper season and buy locally as much as possible
  • Use only cloth for napkins, "paper" towels, toilet tissue and feminine needs
  • Get rid of all clutter in our home and keep only what we truly need or find beautiful, always giving away whatever no longer brings us enjoy
  • Will seek free and simple family activities to bring us enjoyment
  • Unplug any appliances not in use and eliminate as many appliances as possible.
  • Learn to grow things like herbs and some vegetables in containers

Exceptions: I will allow for printing of photos, but only ones I've carefully chosen and have a particular use for. I will allow for limited tickets to events such as festivals or museums. I will also allow for some downloading of music and purchases of CDs or craft items from local artists.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Catherine's Pledge

I'm new to the Compact, but this is an idea that has resonated with me for a long time.

Here's my pledge:
  • I won't buy new, with the exception of consumables such as food, cleaning products, medicines, health items, and raw materials for making such
  • I will borrow or barter when possible
  • I will buy used for everything else
  • If I need to buy gifts, they will be in the form of gift certificates for local services or locally-made products
  • Since we just moved into a new home, basic home improvement items such as paint, concrete, or tile may be bought new if no acceptable used or surplus products are available
I'm starting small with two months, but I hope I will be able to extend my Compact, if all goes well!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Jenny's Pledge

This is the pledge I placed on my blog last October. I am making one addition to that pledge (in kelly green) because, after several months of compacting I realized that completely avoiding buying new is a bit like throwing the baby out with the bath water since artisans and crafters need our support too, so I'm amending my pledge to allow purchase of hand-made goods straight from the artist.

Here's My Compact:

  • No buying new items excluding health, safety, consumables and "second hand new" items.
  • Only buy what's necessary.
  • Borrow or barter before buying used, if possible.
  • Raw materials such as vegetable butters, essential oils, salts and the like are exempt when used for making personal care and cleaning products.
  • Craft items are exempt if I cannot find the item used such as needles, embroidery wool, quilt batting, or spools of thread but I must go through borrow, barter, used and "second hand new" channels before purchasing new.
  • No hoarding allowed.
  • Handmade goods, purchased directly from the artist, are exempt from the compact because we must support individual artists when and where we can.

The Basic Rules

Though every pledge on the Compact is different, there are a few basic rules to follow:
  1. You don't have to be a mom to join, but many of us are moms. And you don't have to have a blog to join, but if you want me to link to your blog I will.
  2. Don't buy new! If you exempted the purchase in your pledge, then it's exempt. Outside of that, DON'T BUY NEW. There are natural exemptions to this rule including consumables like food and personal care items as well as health and safety items.
  3. Barter, trade, buy used or go without.
  4. Once you've made your pledge, post it on your blog and the Compacting Mamas blog.
  5. Save one of the buttons on the sidebar to your blog's sidebar and link the button to this blog while providing a link to your pledge beneath the button.
  6. Post to this blog at least monthly to share your experiences, challenges, thoughts and revelations on compacting.
  7. If, for whatever reason, you didn't keep your compact, fess up here. Use the "OOPS!" button. Remember, we're here to support one another through all the aspects of compacting.

The Pledge

Compacting, aside from the choice not to buy any new items for a given period of time, is deeply personal and that's why no single pledge fits all. Indeed there's few hard and fast rules when it comes to your Compact.

Your best bet, in taking the pledge, is to examine the pledges of others who've been compacting and tailor that to fit the needs of your family. Your compact might look quite different from someone else's compact who has different needs. For example, though the Compact doesn't restrict food in any way, someone might wish to also pledge to abstain from chain restaurants during their compact. Alternatively, many compacts have exemptions. For example, say you're an avid crafter and will need to purchase new materials you might make an exemption for those.

Most pledges consist of four parts:
  1. The commitment not to buy new for a specific period of time.
  2. The reasoning behind your decision to join the Compact.
  3. Your plan for maintaining the Compact.
  4. Any exemptions.

Ready to Join?

If you're ready to make the commitment not to buy anything new for a period of time (2, 4, 6 or 12 months) drop me a line at jenny(at)green-mommy(dot)com with the following information. Sign up periods begin at the first of each month.

New to the Compact?
I'll need the following information sent to jenny(at)green-mommy(dot)com:
  • The number of months your signing up for (2, 4, 6 or 12).
  • The name you wish to be displayed on the blog.
  • Your blog's or website's URL (if you don't have one, you can get one for free from Blogger.)
  • The date your compact will begin.
Been Compacting for a While and Want to Join the Blog?
I'll need the following information sent to jenny(at)green-mommy(dot)com:
  • The number of months you've decided to spend on the compact (2, 4, 6 or 12).
  • The name you wish to be displayed on the blog.
  • Your blog's or website's URL (if you don't have one, you can get one for free from Blogger.)
  • The date your compact began.
Is Your Time on the Compact Up and You Want to Continue?
I'll need the following information sent to jenny(at)green-mommy(dot)com:
  • The number of months you plan to continue (2, 4, 6 or 12).
  • The name you that has been displayed on the blog.
  • Your blog's or website's URL (if you don't have one, you can get one for free from Blogger.)
  • The date your compact began.
I'll reply to your email and add you to the blog! Don't forget to add a button to your blog, link it here and post your Compact Pledge on your blog and this one as well.

NOTE: If you don't have a blog, and don't want one you still can post here. Just email me the above information and specify that you don't have a blog. There's no reason you should miss out on this cooperative journey!