Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Compact vs. Plastic Reduction-- when to buy new?

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? 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.


Anonymous said...

any links or recommendations to get a good shower curtain? i need a new one too.

Juli said...

After calling around to the 'green' home stores in town- Green Depot, 3R Living, one other that Green Depot rec'd and I forget the name, I concluded that I couldn't find a fabric shower curtain in NYC.

So I've ordered a hemp bath curtain from I'll keep you posted on its arrival and how it works for me. I'm worried it won't dry fast enough to retard mold growth. It cost about $90-- a lot for a bath curtain! I think there are bamboo versions for less and probably should have done more research on what kind is best, but needed one fast so I just barreled ahead with my order. (My roommate bought her own apartment recently and moved over the weekend-- she took her fairly new plastic bath curtain with her; that's why I need one fast!)