I figured on Buy Nothing day it is fitting that I sit down and ink out my Compact pledge.
For those who don't know, the Compact was a group of people that started in San Fransisco a year ago and pledged to buy nothing NEW for a year. The word spread and now people all over the world are looking at taking the pledge or at least finding out what the group is talking about.
The groups has a blog and is also a Yahoo Group
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).
The group has agreed to follow two principles (see exceptions etc. on the blog).#1 Don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)#2 Borrow, barter, or buy used.
Every person who is a member of the Compact has taken the pledge to mean different things for themselves and has established their own set of guidelines and specific "exceptions" to the rules. For some, craft supplies are allowable expenses and not against the pledge. For me, that can not be the case as I buy stuff I never use. Others agree that the purchase of new canning goods in order to can home grown produce is an acceptable deviation from the pledge as it is a matter of health and safety. All agree that basic human needs and health care are always an exception.
So first, time line I plan on taking the pledge for one year. I plan on starting 12-1-06 and ending 11-31-07. I won't beat myself up if I fail, but I am going to try my best to succeed. I am doing this for the following personal reasons.
1. I am a habitual consumer. I buy things that I don't need without second thoughts as to why I purchase it. I seldom go to shopping malls, because if I do, I buy stuff. I balk at buying things that cost more than $100, but will easily spend twice that on a combined purchase.
2. In contradiction to reason number 1, I really don't like shopping; I was never much of a mall rat.
3. I believe that Singapore and Singaporeans are both caught up in the Shopping for hobby, conspicuous consumption, branded label society that values the name on your jeans or the label on your purse more than the person who wears the jeans or carries the purse. I have found that I tend to look down at people who are not smartly dressed now and I want to change that behavior.
4. My children expect gifts, all the time. "Mommy, I want you to buy that for me." They get it from TV (although we don't watch lots of TV) and they get it from their friends and classmates.
5. Our world is finite. Our resources are finite. I travel as part of my career so I want to save resources elsewhere. I want to leave a better environment for my children. Oh, and I finally saw an Inconvenient Truth. Go see it. Then see it again and then go to the website. After you see the movie don't tell me if you don't think similar thoughts about our world.
6. I want to give my children and my family a healthier life. I want to prepare more homemade foods, less processed foods, more healthful whole foods. I can do that buy supporting local businesses and farms.
7. After 8 years in Asia, (on what was to be a 5 year plan) we can see the end of the tunnel. I want to save funds to pay off our burdensome student loan debt and be debt free (except the mortgage on the rental home in the US) in 3 years. In order to achieve this VERY ambitious goal we need to apply 35-40% of our salary to loans every month. And, once we are debt free I want to start a retirement account. Yes, I am 40 and my retirement account is well, not very much. That is the disadvantage of working as a "contractor" and overseas at that. So, it is time to build the nest egg.
So that is why.
Now, here are my personal guidelines for the year.
1. Don't buy anything I don't need!
2. Buy items that I need used, second hand or free at places like Freecycle.
3. Exceptions for basic clothing needs including our trip home to the US in January where we stock up on Children's and adult sock, underwear and basic clothing items like shirts and pants for work.
4. Purchase as much local produce and products made in Singapore as possible. If not made in Singapore, produced as close as possible (Malaysia being the closest choice).
5. Borrow or Barter when possible to reduce purchases (even those used)
6. Exemptions for health care items, personal care items must be only basics and do not include "designer makeup" and the like.
7. Eat as many meals at home as possible including taking lunches and making homemade versions of many convenience foods in order to be more frugal and healthy.
8. Continue to declutter my home and follow the 7 Things ring.
9. Exceptions for the home office will include basic office supplies, postage and papers but will not include "trinkets or gadgets".
10. Exceptions for craft supplies is linked directly to the publication of the Book and will not include personal scrapbooking supplies for one year.
As one fellow compacting blogger stated, the goal is not to deprive myself or my family, but rather to simplify my life and step away from my consumer behavior. I do not require my spouse to take part in the pledge, but will help him when I can to reduce his footprint.
So, last few days in preparation for my big step. I will tell you how it goes.