Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New to the Pledge!

I am new to the Mamas on the Compact Pledge but I'm really excited to be a part of it!

The following is my pledge as posted on my blog:

1. I am pledging to not buy anything new for a period of two months to begin May 1, 2008.

2. My reasons for doing this - I think I need to learn to be happier with what we have, which let's face it, is more than so many less fortunate than us. I also need to stop using shopping as a way of making myself feel satisfied, and I need to stop playing into the idea that you are what you can afford to buy! It really is all about differentiating between wanting and needing.

3. My plan for maintaining the pledge? Prayer! No, seriously, that may be the only way I make it through! But really, I can still buy used...that's allowed... so if I really get an itchin' for some shoppin', I can go to the thrift stores. Also, when I 'm feeling lonely and bored (which usually results in a shopping trip) I will try to spend time going for walks, making crafts, cooking, playing outside, and thinking of ways to be "greener" :)

4. Okay, finally the part where I get to justify a few things...the exemptions:

a) Building materials. We are after all still remodeling a house! This does not however exempt un-needed purchases such as furniture and decorations. I'm exempting trim and paint, that sort of thing.

b) Building materials. Redundant, maybe, but this time it's for the dwelling. We plan to use as much salvaged material (which is allowed, right?) as possible but I'm figuring that some things will need to be purchased new. The reason I'm exempting this is because it's already in the works, and therefore needs to be built!

c) I have the husband on board as much as possible...however, he has come up with a few exemption of his own:
- Music for DJing...which is unavoidable and also a business expense.
- Very early morning coffee on the way to the hospital, because if he grinds beans at 6:00am it wakes me up and that makes me grumpy...but whenever possible, he will make it at home.

d) My appointment at SalonSalon. It was a gift from Valentine's Day and even though it will be paid for during the compact, it was given before hand. And dammit, I need some pampering!

e) Whenever humanly possible, I will make or purchase recycled gifts during my compact. If this does not seem humanly possible, I am exempting the purchase of modest gifts. No going overboard!

f) Bathing suits, socks and underwear. Three things I outright refuse to buy second hand!

g) Last but not least, let's be honest here, it's soon to be summer vacation. We plan to take a small trip as soon as Walter is done with school. I don't know if vacations are part of the pledge to begin with but I'll exempt it just in case... the cost of this trip is exempt, but not purchases made on the trip. No new stuff! After all, there are thrift stores on vacation aren't there?

I think that covers everything. I know it seems like a ton of exemptions, but I'm supposed to list them up front and I may as well be honest, instead of saying I'm not going to buy anything and then end up cheating!

Well, that's it, let the compacting begin!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New to the Compact.

Ok, I've come across this blog online at, and I've decided to join the compact.

Barter, trade, buy used or go without

My Pledge:

For at least the next two months, I pledge to buy nothing NEW. This does not include "new to me" items. Merely going shopping for the sake of going shopping.

I am doing this to help the environment by lowering the demand for new things to be made, as well as lowering the amount of waste created by my household. I am also doing this to help my children and myself to learn to differentiate between what we want and what we truly need. And to be completely satisfied with what we already own, instead of going out and buying new things because we're bored with what we have.

To avert the "I wants" I plan to avoid shopping websites, and stores like Target, and the mall. I will limit my shopping at WalMart to buying groceries, if I can not manage to bring myself to shop at the grocery store down the road. When I go out, I will leave my check card at home, to avoid any temptation to go shopping. I will talk to my husband about our spending habits, so as to have him help keep me on track.

Ok... my exemption are:

Shoes- I will not buy used shoes, it's just icky. They never fit quite right, and they're uncomfortable as all get out.

Underwear- I know I'm gonna need new bras soon, just gotta get the money to get them.

A Wii or a PS3- I know, I know, I know that that's a horrible thing to exempt, but it's one of those things we were planning on getting w/ the taxes, and it got put aside. I should be getting money soon, so we can get it.

Necessities- Things like cleaning supplies, and a soaking jar for my moon pads. I really need the soaking jar.

Things that I will NOT buy:

Toys- The kids have a ton and a half toys, and do NOT need any more. And before I even THINK of buying more for them, I'm going to go through what we have and get rid of a bunch.

Clothes- I *REALLY* don't need any more. I have two bedrooms FULL of clothes that need washing before I even pretend to need more.

Jewelry- Any jewelry I *want* I can probably make for myself. I will exempt a butterfly necklace, as I've been looking for one for months.

Hair Stuff
- Puh-LEEZE, I *really* don't need more clips/barrettes, or frills for my hair. I *might* need elastics, but not the frills. And I can probably make do without the elastics.

Cosmetics- unless I run out, which I shouldn't for a good long while

Junk food
- THIS one's gonna be tough. I have a serious junk food addiction.

Fast Food- unless we're not home, and have no other option, and if we eat fast food, we will choose the healthiest possible options.

I will edit this more as I think of more.

I forgot to say that I'll be starting on 1 May.


Your resident compacting host here announcing that I'm terribly overwhelmed (as many of you newcomers know). I've been neglecting this blog and want to apologize.

Secondly, I'm seeking a co-admin for Mamas on the Compact. The responsibilities are pretty simple:
  • Help me check for new bloggers wanting to join the compact and send them invites in a timely fashion.
  • Set up the sidebar to include newcomers and move those whose compacts have ended to graduates.
Also, I'm still strongly considering a switch to wordpress and a domain specific to this blog, so keep your eyes peeled for that. If you're interested in helping out with some of the administrative stuff email me (jenny (@) green-mommy (.) com or reply to this post and I'll get back to you.

Take Care & Keep it Green!
today was a quick run to the goodwill: looking for an alarm clock for bo's room. he has been waking up way to early, so we are instilling the no words until 7am rule. i have heard it works so i am trying it.

so, i promptly found the working alarm clock...actually kinda cool for $2.99 and then as i was plugging it in, i remembered that those khaki pants don't fit anymore. a whole other story there....but we won't go there right now. i found two pairs of khakis that fit for $3.89 ea. and then a pair of dark browns that are a bit too big, but for $3.89 i think i can attempt to alter them. i am sooooo excited for my finds.

i've been on the hunt for a webcam as well, i have a friend in africa that I am dying to chat with and actual hear her voice and I found one on craigslist! we are going to pick it up tonight...a webcam & mircophone for $14.

i am finding the key to compact living is thinking ahead & making a working list. things you need right now, things you'll need in the future, things that you'd like to have but aren't necessary to get right now. i know with young kids it is hard to keep up with how quickly they grow, but it is a sure bet that they will always need play clothes, coats, hats, mittens, snow pants, etc. by thinking ahead about 6 months, then we can be prepared for when we need things by just going to the closet, rather than all around town or hoping for a great garage sale.

speaking of garage is officially garage sale season! i am so jazzed to dust of my "this van stops for garage sales" bumper sticker. i need to begin planning out my friday strategy, since in the past it has been drive by the sign and make a quick stop.

this post is cross-posted at mint green mama

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

shopping can be dangerous

okay, so i admit it...i am prideful. full to the brim with pride and not in a good way. i thought i was doing so good at mending my ways...becoming green, saving the planet & my pocketbook, until today at Toys R Us. of all the places! i thought to myself that i could last two months without having to post an oops moment. but here i am, not even through month one and i am posting my second oops.

we have three birthdays of close friends in the next couple weeks , so i set out today to go shopping for those kiddos. i thought i was safe at the toy store...but i wasn't.

the truth of the matter is that i am a sucker for the clearance rack. i found the cutest sets of tanks & shorts for my daughter on clearance...i know, i know. major slip-up.

let's not even go to the part of the shopping trip where i was in the hello kitty aisle for about 15 minutes contemplating a cute hobo hello kitty purse for ME...not my daughter, not for the birthday present...for me. i have issues. luckily, the hobo hello kitty is still at toys r us....calling to me. it is the cutest thing.

so, a minor set back...or a major set back...depending on your perspective. the optimist in me is saying this was minor. these clothes will be great for my daughter...cheaper than driving all over town looking at consignment stores to find what she will need for play clothes this summer. there have been days passing by that i haven't bought anything, new or used. that is a very good sign. my husband is happy. my bank account has some money. things are a changin'.

the pessimist in me is saying that i could have done more...i could have waited for the church garage sale, gone around to consignment stores and searched for hand-me downs...instead of giving into cutest & clearance. there will always be something that i do better, i am sure of that.

i can see how this challenge is just that...a challenge. it is stretching me, growing me to think outside the box. to see how much i don't need all that crap that the TV is trying to shove down my throat inconspicuously.

we are the first of the generations that are completely influenced by tv...our great-grandmothers were the last generation to know what life was like completely without the bonds of the media. the last generation that, while at the grocery store, worried more about what to make for dinner or how the vegetable garden is doing rather than when Katie Holmes & Tom Cruise will give Suri a sibling. (not saying that all women worry per se about the Holmes/Cruise baby project...but most of us could admit to knowing more than we want to about celebrities...) this compact challenge is becoming a way of life for our family...a buck of the system. it is going against everything that this american world has been teaching me through Sesame Street all those years ago.

we are on the cusp of so many changes in our to raise our kids, what to teach them, who will teach them and what values we want them to hold close. i can't help but be a little overwhelmed at all these thoughts. all i know is that i don't want to follow the status quo, i don't want my kids to worry about what the jones's have and how to be better than them by the world's standards. i don't want them to buy into the lie that more stuff will make your life better or easier or more successful. i want them to be happy.

i want them to work with their hands, to get dirty and sweaty after a hard day of play. i want them to be life-long learners. i want them to be resourceful. i guess that is why this challenge is so hard for me right now. it is working out all the world has put in for so long. all the sudden it has become so much more than just not buying new is about life change.

i share this oops to show i am human, worse off than i thought on this challenge. although it was an oops, it was in the midst of so many positive i guess i am still a little full of pride, but in a different way. we have come a long way since april 1st. but still...beware of Toys R Us!

*cross posted at mint green mama

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Compacting - on hold?

It is almost time to move. We pick up the keys in two weeks, and then will spend the month of May moving.

When I wrote our pledge at the beginning of the year I knew we were going to be moving, so I almost included moving as an exemption. I decided not to because we were planning to move from a 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath apartment to a 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath apartment. I wouldn't need anything. Now we are moving to a four bedroom house with a giant rec room (the "man cave") and a huge yard that I can garden in.

So anyway, I know that I am the only one that will make myself feel guilty for buying curtains to hide our nakedness (for example), but in the interest of full disclosure, I wanted to let everyone know. Of course, we will still continue to look for things used before we buy new, and of course, the Compact will only be "on hold" for those things we need for the house.

The sad/funny thing is that all of the things I need to buy are things that we Freecycled when we moved from our house in Detroit to our current apartment. Doh!

In the mean time - Anyone got a lawnmower they don't need? lol

Cross posted at Life, In A Nutshell

Friday, April 11, 2008

a near slip-up, sort of...

this week has been a busy one. i have been on the hunt all week for rain boots. i've asked everyone i know if they have some i can borrow. nope. none. nada. zilch. i went to goodwill and a couple consignment stores and called around. same thing...none.

so i resigned myself to the fact that i do in fact need these rain boots for this weekend. it is out in the wilderness and requires some walking down the prayer path...these boots will not only serve my feet, but also the feet of many others if they so choose. it is looking like there is no other option for me at this point.

so i called tj maxx to see if they had pair of super-cute key lime boots with hot pink lining in my size for my price. i told myself i wasn't going to spend over $20 and they were $19.99. God is good, all the time.

so, i decided in the stress of this week (my mother fell & broke her hip...looks like i will probably be primary in taking care of her recovery....and i have been busy planning for this weekend. a retreat for about 10 ladies from our church that i am lead teaching) to go ahead, take the plunge and buy the boots.

so you are probably thinking...isn't that a full fledged slip-up? well, not exactly in my brain. it is a "i have no choice" type of decision. the near slip-ups came at BOTH kmart and tj maxx when i happened to walk past the purse section.

ahhhh....the purse section. my favorite section of any store at any time...i have a problem with purses. they are beautiful, they store my stuff, they are so cute....and these were all on clearance. at kmart they were $3.99 for last years winter stuff. a super cute cream colored knitted one jumped into my hands before i even realized what was going on. it looked hand-made and so unusual. i seriously was considering & justifying it in my head and then i realized that i was doing this challenge. it is like when i get around purses, i lose my MIND! i swear. what is wrong with me?

so off to tj maxx to get my rain boots, when yet again i have to walk by the purses to get to the footwear. and once again i find myself in the same situation. brain gone, will power nowhere to be found and i have in my hand one of the most beautiful leather purses i have ever seen. it is a camel brown in a hobo style...smallish and so rich looking. it is on clearance for $89 (yikers!) but the strap is broken. so i chance it and take it to the manager, to see if they will take less...much less.

what do you think he said? nope, can't do is already marked down so much. i continue to talk with him and he is firm on his no. then i realize once again that i am on this challenge and committing not to buying new stuff. i walk away with some self-control & pride that even though i lost my brain, i didn't really lose out...because i stuck to my challenge (with the exception of the rain boots!) and didn't buy either purse. everyone that knows me is probably so shocked and proud of me for that amount of self control. i seriously l-o-v-e purses.

my thought is, by the time the challenge is done, that purse will be marked down so much that i will be able to get it for the price i offered! it wouldn't be the first time.

*cross-posted at mint green mama

Monday, April 7, 2008

only mint green...

hello, my name is meredith and i was addicted to buying stuff. it all started with an innocent trip to super target to get some milk....$150 later, i walked out in the consumer daze of 'how did that happen?' reliving the daze of mindless shopping, being sucked into buying stuff on clearance or just because it was cute and i need it, right? that's when i knew that things needed to change in my life, the checkbook said husband said so.

so, i stumbled onto this compacting idea from my friend sara, and i have decided to join this compacting challenge for two months. i refer to myself as "mint green" because i am learning to become green in so many areas...but in some areas i just can't get myself to commit. i have been challenged over the past couple years, really since having kids, our life doesn't reflect what we believe. from all that we consume, the cars we drive,the groceries we buy, these all affect our health & environment.

there are many mamas out there that are much greener than me, but the goal for all of us is to get better at making choices for our families, our health and our environment, right? what i have found on this journey so far is that everyone goes at their own pace, it is okay to be green in some areas and not in others...for now. the ultimate goal is to make better choices. to stop and evaluate: is this the best for me? for my family? for my health? for my world?

so, in following in the footsteps of amy at gift of green, i have modified the compact challenge with my own exceptions. it is not as green as i would like, i can see my biggest downfall is gifts for others. i want to be able to give them something great & perfect...sometimes we can't find those second-hand. more thoughts & ideas on this topic in future posts, i'm sure!

here is my compact for the next two months:

in the year of our Lord 2008, in the month that brings showers for may flowers; i, mint green mama meredith, pledge not to buy anything new for two months.

the reason for this pledge is to help reverse the pressure of our family budget, to save money, to teach myself & my children to be satisfied with what we have, to distinguish between wants & needs and to begin to live a simple life.

the big game plan for avoiding the "gimmes" and the "i gotta's" include: not browsing on shopping websites, avoiding target with all my human strength, shopping at the grocery store rather than walmart, not taking the kids with me grocery shopping and evaluating which credit cards we can rid ourselves from.

exceptions for april & may:

-food...we all have to eat. i'm going to continue to concentrate on buying store brand vs. name brands, as well as shopping mostly at aldi (aldi is an amazing place...much like ikea for food!)

-meds & doc-in-the-box. we don't go here much & have been blessed with healthy kids, i am praying that this continues!

-may birthday gift for my daughter. her birthday isn't until about the end of the challenge, so i am hoping to find the perfect something through other means than buying "new", but i do have a back-up plan in place if i don't find the perfect thing. i will be searching craigslist & freecycle for my ideas.

-birthday presents for my kid's friends. i only find it fair to subject only my own family to this kind of living at this point...not their unsuspecting friends. although, i will keep my eye out for the perfect gift to the couple birthday parties we will be invited to over these next couple months. also, i would love to have my kids learn how to shop for their friends by asking: what do you think they'd enjoy? what makes them happy? what would be special to them? it might be that what would make this friend happiest would be a home-made gift, wrapped in love!

-postage...we have been moving more and more of our bills to online billing, but there are a few we must snail mail. for online bills, i have a slick little spreadsheet with all the user names & passwords. it is pretty easy and saves on the postage & gas to send it. our bank charges us to do
online banking through them, so instead i took the extra five minutes & made a spreadsheet. our citi card said that they planted a tree for us committing to online billing. citi card rocks!

-new shoes & unders for the further explanation needed for that one.

[this post is cross-posted at mint green mama]

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

March Progress Report

Woohoo! Bought nothing new, and found everything that I needed used.

In March I found:
Plates - Have needed new ones for a while, and I wanted the white utility looking ones that Marty uses at work. We could have ordered them at any time but he forgot to in 2007, and of course in 2008 we couldn't buy them. A church must have gotten rid of theirs because my local thrift store had about 100 of them - 4/$2.40. I bought 12.

Juicer - On SCD I can't use any concentrated juice and we have been using a lot of fresh, so I wanted a juicer. Found a barely used one (might even be new, but since I bought it at the thrift store, I assume that it is ok...) for $4.50. Love it!

Lid for my Kitchenaid - You know... the Stand Mixer Bowl Cover thingy that they charge $15+ for? Found it at the Goodwill, rubber banded to a bunch of other things, and without a price tag. I helped the manager find the stuff that the other parts belonged to, so he gave it to me for 29¢! Score!

The Ugly Chair - Walking out of the thrift store yesterday I found my dream chair. A big, comfy, sink into it with a book chair. No price, so I walked in telling myself that I wouldn't pay more than $25 for it. (The really ugly chair next to it was priced at $49.99, so I was pretty sure I was going home empty handed.) When she said "How about $4.99?" I am pretty sure I giggled like a schoolgirl.

The picture does not do the chartreuse justice (Traditional chartreuse, not web chartreuse, thankyouverymuch.)

Even better than finding what I needed used is the big box of stuff ready for a yard sale or thrift store.

This post is cross posted at Life, in a Nutshell

Let the Compacting Begin!

Although I am barely at the level of some of you compacting mamas, beginning April 1st, 2008, I also pledge not to buy anything new for two months. The purpose of this pledge is to save money, to learn to be satisfied with the possessions I already own (and to take care of things I do own so that they last longer), and to distinguish between what I "Want" and what I "Need".

Strategies for avoiding the "Wanna-haves" include not browsing on shopping websites, flipping quickly through the pages of my magazines that extoll the next best green thing to buy, rewarding myself with several trips to the thrift shops, and reviewing my bank account balance!

Here are my exceptions (with forbiddens noted) for the months of April and May:

Food (coffee shop coffees, restaurants, buying lunch at work, and "energy bars" are strictly forbidden)
Medicine & Doctor's Visits
Feminine Hygiene Products (I am really, really sorry all of you Diva Cup fans)
April birthday gift for Great Grams
Anniversary Present for Green Husband (must not be a "thing" however - can be something like admission to the butterfly exhibit - if I were to do that.)
New shoes for the children (I'm sorry - unless they are used snow boots or dress shoes, I don't do "used" shoes. They mold to the wearer's feet over time and basically become customized. I predict that both of my children will jump a shoe size over the next two months!)

I think that is it! Gulp! Wish me luck!

{This pledge is cross-posted over at Gift of Green}