I am talking with some people today about The Compact, which I did formally in 2007 and do informally today. Compacters pledge to not buy anything new for a year except food, underwear, medicine, and items necessary for health and safety.
Doing the Compact changed the way I shop and consume, and I think of the changes as permanent. Though I do purchase the occasional new item, when I need things now I ask myself:
-- Do I really need it?
-- Can it wait? What happens if I wait a week or a month? Will I still need it?
-- Can I borrow it? Rent it? Get it from a library?
-- Can I get it used?
-- Where did it come from, what is it made of, who made it, how far did it come to get to me?
-- Can I get it without packaging, without shipping?
-- How long will I have it, what happens to it when I'm done with it? Can it be re-used or recycled?
...so there isn't a lot that I buy new.
BUT. There have been a few new purchases recently. These are things that I can use instead of plastic.
One was a stainless steel insulated travel coffee mug from Gorilla Coffee, a local roaster in Brooklyn. I LOVE it-- the top screws on tightly so there are no leaks in my bag, and though there is a little plastic in the top, there's no plastic in the mug proper.
Another was a set of bamboo cutlery, bought at Whole Foods. They are lightweight and don't make clanking noises in my bag.
And I plan to purchase a fabric shower curtain soon. Mine needs replacing and there's no way I'm buying a new plastic curtain. That strong smell from new plastic shower curtains? Turns out it is bad for you. Fabric curtains are kind of expensive, but this is a purchase I've been planning for a while.
See? I'm not really anti-consumerist. I'm for smart consumption.