Is 2014 Your Year To Join “The Compact” and Stop Buying New?

by Katy on January 8, 2014 · 9 comments

Note: I wrote this article for The Huffington Post, which can be read HERE. Any and all “likes,” comments and “shares” are greatly appreciated, is they will help move the article to the front page where it will actually get read. Please click over to the The Huffington Post for your feedback. Thank you very much!

We’re already into our second week of 2014 and if you’re anything like me, your new year’s resolutions are already starting to fade. Your vow to work out three times a week was interrupted by foul weather, your diet’s been hijacked by your co-worker’s daily tins of too-good-to-resist goodies and your resolution to declutter the home office got, well . . . boring.

But I have a mid-January new year’s resolution that’s both easier than you think and will save you thousands of dollars.

Stop buying new. 

I did. Since 2007, and I’m here to tell you that this deceptively simple decision will change your life for the better. It’s called “The Compact” and tens of thousands of people have already made one year commitments to choose used.

Let me back up, and share a bit of my back story with you. I am a 46-year-old mother to two teenage boys who works as a part-time labor and delivery nurse. My husband and I drive a mini-van, live in a normal urban neighborhood, (although it is in Portland, Oregon, so there is an unbearable amount of quirky Portlandia-like hipster weirdness) and I attend enough youth soccer games to earn the “Soccer Mom” label.

Nothing too out of the ordinary. Right?


I write the blog The Non-Consumer Advocate and I urge thousands of daily readers to “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” and I mean it. In a world where deplorable and dangerous foreign factory conditions make the news almost every month, I choose to vote with my dollars. When area thrift shops burst with perfectly usable (and already manufactured goods) it’s a no brainer to look to the second hand market for my family’s needs. We mend and repair, borrow for infrequently used items and then make sure to lend out what we own to our friends and neighbors. We hold off from impulse purchases and we’re happy.

At this point you may be saying to yourself:

“Sounds good in theory, but there is no freaking way I’m signing up for used underwear/shoes/dental floss/socks.”

Don’t let a case of the heebie-jeebies deter you from considering The Compact, as everyone who participates selects their own exceptions. For me it’s socks, underwear, consumables, home maintenance supplies and personal care items. My husband thinks that used shoes are the work of the devil, so he gets a pass on that one. Everyone’s exceptions will differ, and that’s okay.

I don’t need to tell you that a self imposed restraining order from the mall will save you money, but I will anyway. You will save money when you joint The Compact, but that’s not the only benefit. You’ll appreciate your belongings a bit more, which will make you want to keep them more organized. You’ll become more deliberate about your home and go on a decluttering spree and be forced to be more creative about gift giving and end up giving more thoughtful gifts. You’ll pretty much discover a creative mindset whose ripple effects permeate every aspect of your life.

So c’mon, give The Compact a try for a month, maybe even for the full year. And if you’re anything like me, you might end up seven years in without a single regret.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Katy January 9, 2014 at 12:07 am

Thank you to everyone who has clicked over to “like” and “share” this piece! I have the best readers!




kate January 9, 2014 at 6:42 am

I finally took the leap and made 2014 my year to join! I am using my blog to keep me accountable- it should be interesting as we have a newborn baby. Thank you for the inspiration.


Nicolaas January 10, 2014 at 4:55 am

My New Year’s Resolution is to buy used or not buy at all. Fortunately, the quality underwear and socks that I buy will last for years, so that’s not an issue. So when something wears out and is no longer usable, I will ask myself if I really need to replace that or can I do without.


tracey January 12, 2014 at 8:56 am

I have a dilemma. I have decided to give the Compact a try. three and a half years ago I moved from a 3500 sq ft house in Montana that was wonderful (not perfect but I really liked it) to a 2100 sq ft house with no storage in AZ, the land of boring sucky housing (no attic, no basement, no built-ins!) We purged a lot before we moved and now I am ready to seriously purge again. I am worried about getting rid of things now because what if I do need them in the future? With trying not to buy much in the coming year I am wondering how ruthless I should be. I have moved a lot in the past and was pretty good about getting rid of stuff for each move. But it looks like I am going to be here awhile and a good purge is due. ( I did get rid of one bag of clothes and one box of misc items yesterday). How do you decide what to keep and what to get rid of?


chicknlil January 12, 2014 at 11:24 am

My rule of thumb is, “Do I use this? How often?” If not, can I easily buy it used or borrow one. Example: clothes easy to buy used. Pressure canner, not really. If I have a doubt about getting rid of something, I put it in the donate box and wait a month. Usually I don’t miss it and after the month is over, it’s donated. If it’s something I’m really unsure about, I see if a friend wants it. That way I can borrow it back! I come from a family of keepers and have a long way to go. Cleaning out my elderly grandparents homes after they passed away was helpful. They proved there really is plenty of stuff for everyone (because they saved everything).


tracey January 13, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Thanks for the reply. I don’t have issues with bigger items, it is all the little things, like ribbon, a piece of poster board, craft project items. If I’m going to try not to buy stuff I keep thinking, what if I need this for a project. Maybe I could make a gift out of this, or use it for wrapping. Things I know I have a good chance of finding at Goodwill I am okay with getting rid of. For now I think I will keep my purging focused on clothes, books and things I know I won’t use. I’ll worry about all the little stuff later.
I do the wait a month thing too. So far clothing wise my only regret has been a grey cardigan that I got rid of years ago and still miss on rainy days. (I finally realized I could go buy another one, though I don’t NEED it. Maybe the thought alone will be enough!) last Christmas I put all my unused decorations in a tote and this year I actually pulled out a few and used them, but anything not used got donated.
I spent a week helping my father-in-law clean out part of his house last summer. I cleared out a whole box of misc empty jars. When we got home I got rid of the 4 or 5 jars I was keeping “just in case”. I only kept the one I actually use to make salad dressing. I am learning!


Isela January 12, 2014 at 10:18 am

In the paste five years I have bene reducing the way I consume; probably I buy 90% used and the rest new. I will do my best to join the movement, as a I find it useful and entertaining.


Jason January 13, 2014 at 11:44 am


I just wanted to thank you for all you do! I joined the compact last year in an attempt to save money and reduce my impact. The reults: my wife and I payed off $50k in student loans and debt during 2013! We are now debt free besides the mortgage.

We are not staying strict to the compact this year, but by default, our spending patterns have been changed for life. Our friends and family, who first thought we were crazy, have now started to “see the light” and some have even joined the compact as their 2014 resolution.

Thanks again!


Katy January 14, 2014 at 8:23 am

Wow, that’s fantastic! Congratulations and thanks for the nice words!



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