Confessions Of A Compact Crusader

by Katy on November 22, 2008 · 6 comments

The following is a reprint from a blog I wrote in May. Enjoy.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

The Non-Consumer Advocate


I am member of The Compact. And no – it doesn’t involve polygamy and drab clothing. It is a group of people who have chosen to not buy anything new for a one year period. I actually started in January 2007 and have yet to feel the need to stop. The Compact was started by a group of San Francisco hipster friends in 2005 who were fed up with the consumer lifestyle. It has since grown exponentially and there are 10,000+ members on The Compact Yahoo group alone. 

What’s the point you may ask. Here you go:

  • 1/3 of all the world’s oil supplies are used for shipping. (Source to factory, to warehouse, to store)
  • The packaging used for new items is often to the point of ridiculous. If you doubt me, you are welcome to time travel back to my living room Christmas 2005 to watch my kids take 15+ minutes apiece trying to release their grandma purchased “Transformer Unicrons” from their packaging prisons. Packaging shouldn’t make you cry. Even the most ardent recycler can be stumped on how to responsibly deal with blister packs and the like.
  • When buying second hand it is easier to tell when an item is high quality. If your thing-a-majig has survived its first owner, chances are it will continue to last for you.
  • You can indulge your taste for designer and status items. I couldn’t afford to shop regularly at Nordstrom, but when choosing between a $3 pair of Target pants and a $3 pair of Nordstrom pants at Goodwill, guess which pair comes home with me? Good guess.
  • By buying used, you are not supporting factories in foreign countries with questionable worker’s rights.
  • Oh yeah. . . it’s cheaper! When I spend less money, I need to earn less money. Therefore I commute less, can cook from scratch more, am less burnt out at my high stress job as a labor and delivery RN. The ripple effects for me seem endless.
Don’t think you could get through a year without buying new? Start small. I went into it thinking I would try it for a month – and that was 23 months ago.
Katy Wolk-Stanley
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
My Compacty living room.
Buying only used is no sacrifice for me.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary C November 22, 2008 at 7:35 am

I love your blog, so positive. How do you handle buying used gifts for people who are…ahem…wealthy? I have relatives, you know?
I try to make them things, like handmade cards and the like.
Your living room is fabulous. Can you come do mine?


Mrs Green November 23, 2008 at 1:41 am

Excellent post. I tried to do a buy nothing new month, but I found it really hard. There are some really ingrained habits in my life that I just can’t think creatively around. I truly admire your lifestyle choices, however and you inspire me 🙂


Tara Morrison November 23, 2008 at 6:19 am

Lesson of a child compacter- My son got 5 dollars from a great grandparent for his birthday. We had to go to Target (I know its a box but the have the best pharmacist) for a prescription. The money had been burning a hole in his little pocket and as we were paying he spied a set of hot wheels, which are a favorite at our house. The were 2.50 I explained to him that was half his money and he chose to make the purchase. Well a few days later we were in our favorite thrift store ans there was a bagful of cars for .50 he wanted them and decided to buy them. When he realized the price difference he was said he would only shop at Emmy’s!


Caroline November 23, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Our family recently moved to a pretty green and conscious small sea port town in WA. I was recently invited to what is called a “Naked Lady” party. As an outsider, I was simply told it was an event where a bunch of women clean out their closets, get together at one house for drinks and food things, and dig through each others’ closet outcasts. I had no idea what I was in for! I walked in and just stared in awe for like 5 minutes. All of the windows in the downstairs were draped in sheets, and there were about 20 young women [late 20’s – early 30’s] digging furiously and very happily through an ENORMOUS pile of clothing that stretched the entire length of the host’s living room and dining area. Women were all around me in their undergarments, trying items on, taking them off, stuffing things into their take-home bags/boxes. It was terrific! There were no arguments over who got what, it was just a bunch of gals having a great time trading clothes! I recognized the gal that works at my favorite cafe in town, and the woman I purchased the old highchair from off Craigslist about 10 months ago, both of whom I’d never met or talked to before. But what an interesting thing to come together in such a way. There are two fantastic things about these parties. 1. All the clothes you take home are free, because you’ve contributed to the pile 2. All the clothes that are leftover at the end of the party, go directly to the Goodwill, or the town “Free” store. I am so impressed with this tradition, and the women who honor it yearly, I just had to share!


Lily September 22, 2009 at 10:48 am

Great blog!!! Picture how stuffed with stuff our homes would become if we kept buying and buying and buying. How wonderful to hear about people sharing and donating what they no longer need.


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