Adam Ash

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Cutting down on buying stuff has become a movement called Compact

Cutting Back Without Deprivation – by M. P. DUNLEAVEY/NY Times

IT sounds like something that would happen in San Francisco. In 2005, a few friends gathered for dinner and started bemoaning the fate of the planet, the environmental impact of consumer excess — and ended up challenging one another to not buy anything new for six months.

By mid-2006, the rapidly growing group was featured on the “Today” show, and people were calling it a movement.

“We think of it as more of a phenomenon than a movement,” said John Perry, a co-founder of the group, now known as the Compact. “We’re grateful for our 17 minutes of fame,” he added, “but we didn’t intend this to be broadcast. We didn’t mean to attract followers.”

Yet for such a simple and not terribly sexy idea — to buy nothing new, other than food and other absolute essentials — the Compact has managed to build a groundswell of supporters. The group has more than doubled since the fall, to nearly 8,000 members from 3,000. It has even found a footing in Europe and Australia.

If Thoreau comes to mind, Mr. Perry would be the first to agree that “there is nothing new or startling” about the Compact. The main difference between the Compact and other organizations with an antimaterialism bent, like Voluntary Simplicity, he said, is that the aim of the Compact is not just to scale back financially but to reduce the environmental toll of the American consumer lifestyle.

Compact members reuse or recycle what they have and buy only used or secondhand goods — except for food, health-related items and personal things, like socks and underwear. You can spend as much as you like on life’s more intangible pleasures, like travel, sports, music and other cultural activities.

Although the group took its name from the Mayflower Compact of 1620, it is not as Puritan as it sounds. As Marlaina Abbott-Ross, a Compact member who runs a small advertising agency in Charleston, S.C., put it: “It’s about mindful consumerism, not about depriving ourselves.”

When Mrs. Abbott-Ross first joined the Compact about a year ago, she was a nonstop shopper.

Packages would arrive from eBay and she wouldn’t remember what she had ordered. “I was starting to feel overwhelmed: by the clutter, by the credit card bills, by all this stuff we didn’t need.”

Now, she says, “I don’t even think about spending.” The result is not only an extra cushion of cash, “it’s a huge stress reducer,” she said. “Now I can buy what I want, whether it’s a nice bottle of wine or organic food for my family.”

To the extent that the Compact has any structure at all, it exists on Yahoo Groups ( ) where people can join threaded discussions about things like the temptations of Costco or whether your friends look at you askance (which many do, members report).

Mr. Perry monitors the group and has read thousands of statements about people’s reasons for joining. “I think we’ve touched a bundle of angry nerves,” he said. “People are worn out and hung over by all the stuff in their lives. Many have terrible consumer debt. They feel out of control.”

What may contribute to the Compact’s success, Mr. Perry thinks, is that it gives people a place to talk. “You can’t go to a cocktail party and say, ‘Hey, I’m $30,000 in debt, and I’m addicted to The Shopping Channel.’ ”

WHILE the chance to let your hair down financially may provide some relief, the Compact offers a surprising payoff. Yes, the group’s secondhand-buying strategy has helped members to save money, pay off their credit card debts and pad their children’s college funds. And it gives people the satisfaction of knowing they are contributing less to the local landfill.

The much bigger dividend gained by many members is time.

“When you don’t go to stores, you spend a lot more time doing other things,” said Mr. Perry, who has traded his own “recreational shopping habit” for a plot in the community garden, eating out with friends and volunteering at his son’s school.

Bridget Stuart, a real estate agent in Laguna Beach, Calif., who joined the Compact in December, experienced a similar windfall of time. Now she invites friends over for dinner and to play board games and takes walks with her children in lieu of cruising the mall.

“I’m even getting back into tennis,” she said. “I used to play tennis all the time, and the biggest thing that supplanted it was shopping. That’s crazy. I actually feel like this is getting me back to the way I want to live.”


At 3/08/2007 5:37 AM, Blogger sushil yadav said...

In response to your post about "Compact", consumerism, "environmental crisis" and "simple living" I want to post a part from my article which examines the impact of consumerism/ industrialization on our minds and environment.

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.

A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.

Fast visuals/ words make slow emotions extinct.

Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.

A fast (large) society cannot feel pain / remorse / empathy.

A fast (large) society will always be cruel to Animals/ Trees/ Air/ Water/ Land and to Itself.

To read the complete article please follow either of these links :





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