The Compact, As Explained To A Reader

by Katy on January 9, 2009 · 5 comments

The Compact
I received a letter with questions about The Compact, (buy nothing new) the other day. I think my reply is a good explanation of how The Compact is very individualized for each participant.
I have told a lot of people about your blog and we’ve come up with some questions…you mention that your exceptions to the rule are socks and underwear…got it. But how about lightbulbs and toothbrushes?
And here was my reply:

Thanks for the nice words.

I suppose I do need to add toothbrushes and lightbulbs to my “exception list.”

I got hooked on the Sonicare professional toothbrush a number of years back when a patient gave me one as a thank you gift. (I’m a nurse.) The brushes are supposed to be replaced every six months, but they last much longer because you’re not doing the same kind of vigorous brushing as you do with a regular brush. I probably only replace the brush heads every year. My dentist noticed the difference, which sold me for life.


I switched over to CFL light bulbs throughout the house a year or so ago. Although I was doing The Compact at the time, I felt the benefit of using less electricity outweighed the downside of a newly manufactured product. I held onto all the incandescent bulbs, and I’ve been slowly using them to replace the overhead bulbs in my living and dining rooms which are dimmable fixtures. There are dimmable CFL’s, but they’re like $12 apiece, and I need six. Also, the bulbs are very noticeable, so I would want to get the ones which aren’t all coil-ey.

The Compact really isn’t an all-or-nothing endeavor, and there’s no one set of exact rules. Everyone I know does it a little differently. Some people have a “jubilee day” where they’re allowed to buy all the new stuff they’ve been holding off from all year. I don’t do that. I did buy a brand new pair of “Keen” mary-janes last year, but I wear them almost every day. As a nurse, I am a comfy-shoe devotee. (I did buy a pair of $32 Danskos on eBay that someone worn once and didn’t like though.)

Any change is progress. My husband doesn’t do The Compact, and neither do my kids. But none of them are big shoppers. I try to anticipate needs ahead of time, which is the key to buying used. The only stuff my husband is buying is Home Depot stuff life furnace filters and such, and I’m not going to give him grief about doing that. 

Thanks again,

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

marianne January 10, 2009 at 8:44 am

because of your blog, i found out about the compact and started jan 1 of this year. so far i am happy and do not feel deprived at all. preplanning is the key to many things-meals and gift giving! this month i am preplanning all the family’s birthdays so i have time to find and/or make their gifts. i also preplan my meals. i have made 2 purchases other than food. one was an aluminum waterbottle from a local eco-friendly store since i drink a lot of water. the other was a diva cup so i may stop using tampons. i did buy poptarts the other day for my husband. he is not doing the compact but i do my best to get us what we need so he does not have to go to the store. =)


AJ in AZ January 10, 2009 at 1:44 pm

I joined the Yahoo group about the Compact for a week, but had to unjoin. Even on digest, the number of emails hitting my inbox was huge. I wish I had that kind of reading time, but NOT. So I read this blog and several others and that is it.
My version of the Compact is just to think verrrrry carefully about buying anything at all, and to buy used if the item can’t be done without. It has worked for years for me.


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