Sunday, January 4, 2009

Welcome New Compactors!

It occurs to me that some of you may be newly starting out on a journey of not buying--as my family did a year ago. You've decided to simplify your life. Or, your fed up with your values and want to live more seriously. Maybe you're sick of the mounds and streams of garbage our society spews out so, you've decided to join The Compact. You can do it. Here are some handy dandy not buying new tips.

  • Firstly, remember that it is not a punishment to not buy new things. Don't feel regret over things. You will feel lighter soon, really.
  • Even though you may be able to buy a huge amount of less expensive things at thrift shops, still only buy what you need and what will serve you. Just because it's cheap, doesn't mean you should get it. Go ahead and pass it up--keep walking.
  • Only get things that you would get if you were paying a much higher price for them. Would you really get the giant Elmo ceramic candy dish if you were at Macy's, or is it speaking to you because it's .75?
  • Do anticipate future needs. Is there a wedding coming up in half a year? Start looking for clothing now. Might your son have need for a suit at some point? Go ahead and get the $6.00 suit right now.
  • Look carefully at the clothing. Sometimes you can get nicely made things but check for pulled threads, bare spots, broken zippers etc. If there's a changing room, go ahead and try it on. You can usually return things, but sometimes not, and you don't have to be stuck with something that's not going to work for you just because it's cheap.
  • Get yourself off of catalog mailing lists. In the meantime, just put them directly into the recycling bin--do not look at them. It might be torture, and why do that to yourself?
  • On a related note, while watching TV, skip the commercials. Ignore them. Don't let them into your life.
  • Start thinking about the things you like that you don't have to buy--walks in the woods, playing a game with your kids, a manicure or pedicure that you can give yourself, reading books, cooking up a wicked pot of chili. There are lots of things already in your life that give it huge meaning, value and enjoyment. Remember them and do them more.
  • Many people shop as sport so you may have to replace that kind of excitement with other things. Go somewhere that's free--a museum, or art gallery, a library, community center or a downtown where you can walk and people watch. Get out there and spend time soaking it all up rather than spending it all.
  • Don't buy magazines that tell you you must have certain things or look a certain way. That can easily eliminate a whole grouping of magazines. Stay away from any photoshopped images. Again, you have to buy to try and emulate those looks--discover your own look and feel comfortable with yourself.
  • Put aside the money saved and buy a class, a night at the theater, an expensive dinner out, a sizable donation to an organization that could use your help. When you stop buying new things, as a rule, you will have more money and you can use that for quality purchases that are Compact compatible.
  • Join yahoo groups or other kinds of groups where the people get what you're doing. It's not freakish to decide to not buy new things, but it is different and many people feel threatened when you try to do something that departs from the norm. Surround yourself with like minded people.
  • Get on a freecycle group or a freecycle like group and see if there's anything you'd like--you can get good things for free that would otherwise go to a landfill. You can give things away to people who really want them and will use them. You don't have to buy new to get good stuff that you need.
  • Take an inventory of all that you already have and start getting rid of the things that don't serve you any more. You can freecycle it or give it to Goodwill or sell it on CraigsList or e-bay. Let go of the things that clutter up your life.
  • If you goof up, you go out and buy that purse you just really can't live without, forgive yourself and get back to The Compact. It was just a slip up. You're not a bad person. You can get back to your stated goal: Not Buying New Things. It's OK.
Once you start this as a lifestyle, it's easy to continue. Once you no longer define yourself by your things, the things hold so much less sway over your life. They are objects that may be useful in your life, but don't necessarily add value to your life. The value is in your connections with others and the discoveries you can make about the world and yourself. That is so rich. That is abundant. That is a full life.

If you are deciding to not buy new, share your story here. What are you discovering? What is difficult? What is easier than you thought it would be? How do you feel now? What are your questions?

Welcome to the world of: less things, rescued things, only necessary things and everything other than things.


Erica said...

I love this! We try to follow this all the time. Even with Christmas, I bought all my daughters gifts from salvation army! YAY for you!

Laura said...

Thanks Erica! I feel bad that we haven't been pure, but we've been very, very good. As my Dad would say, "Perfect is the enemy of good."

Good for you too.

Thanks for visiting.

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