Compact Culture

Here's what occupied my spare cycles today: An AP article on shopping sabbaticals. A group of San Franciscans didn't shop for all of 2006. They have a Yahoo group and blog, but who doesn't? What makes this movement special?

One, they're not called freegans, which is wrong on so many levels (not the movement, the name). Freegans dumpster-dive for food and even forgo renting apartments, Cynics for the modern age. While the freegans are too extreme for many people's tastes, compactors--the name I'm dubbing this SF sub-culture--don't shun food and shelter. But the movement still abhors waste.

Participants who agree to the Compact make no new purchases for a year, in order to not partake of the obscene consumer culture we live in. Used, traded, and bartered goods are OK. Health and safety products are exceptions, so tasty food and new toothbrushes are kosher.

From what I have gathered, participants occasionally lapse and buy something new, and there is one day a year where one can go on a buying spree.

The absence of a cult leader is disturbing. Everybody knows that a movement needs a deranged, charismatic leader.

I'm willing to give this a try. I'm a little worried about what I'll do if my refrigerator dies or I need a new car (or a new car part). Also, there's the issue of new clothes. For example, if I buy new clothes on Ebay, but they "fell off a truck", is that legit?

I'll start off January as a Compactor and see what happens. Tammy and I already live lean. I made a chess board out of spare wood three weeks ago and bought pieces from Goodwill (only to discover that we really don't like chess, but hey, it's definitely compact) I didn't even get a TV until my grandmother gave us her old one. We reuse paper in our printer (one side is still good!). We're as anti-consumerism as the next pinko-commie-liberal-hippie.

I give myself a week before I cave :-)



At 1/4/07, 8:41 AM, Blogger Ceallaigh said...

This is really tremendous, Vince. Thanks for turning me on to it. I'm going to send the article to Sean and see if he's hip to going Compact. Of course, we just bought a car in December (we didn't have one), so that's out of the way. *grin*

Nonetheless, I think it's an idea whose time has come.


At 1/4/07, 10:23 PM, Blogger Crinis said...

In an effort to see how compact I am (or can be), I've started a spreadsheet of all my expenses, from coffee prescriptions. I did this once several years ago when times were lean. Now, I'm going to see if there are places where I'm spending and I don't have to, or if I can replace it with recycled goods.

My lament is my car. I have on friend who is capable of driving on recycled gasoline, but for the rest of us in CA, the option isn't there (no more turbo diesels in CA, at least for now).

Public transportation, like much of the USA, is a joke around here. It would take me 1.5 hours to commute to work each way (by car it's 25 minutes in bad traffic).

At 1/5/07, 12:59 PM, Blogger Carol said...

I've been shopping consignments and thrift stores for years. I can list all new things I bought last year: Throw rug, plates and a cotton jacket. The rest is used. My fav wine glasses I got used, just got a compliment on them.


At 1/20/07, 9:05 AM, Anonymous Alex said...

Very cool, Vince. Good luck with it.


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