I wanted this post to be dated January 1st, but we turned out to have a more social New Year’s than usual, filled with friends both old and new and even relatives I haven’t seen for years, so there was no time for my usual reflections on the past year and goals for the year ahead.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll answer your questions about my year and give a more detailed account of the experience, but for now I just wanted to write down some general reflections.
And the main thing that occurs to me is that doing The Compact turned out to be much easier than I’d expected, but much more rewarding than I could have imagined. I’ve written before about how I was digging in my heels for deprivation and challenge, but there was almost no deprivation and the challenge was mostly a creative one that I enjoyed, like finding substitutions for things I needed to buy or making gifts that people would actually use.
I can hardly begin to list the ways my life is richer for this experience, but I’ll try to name just a few:
I’ve made more friends, mostly “online” friends, but some I’ve been lucky enough to meet in person. And the great thing is that they’re like-minded people who share my values and interests.
I feel like part of a community and that I’m living my values and sharing them.
I feel like I can handle any challenge, financial or otherwise, because I truly believe my friends and family will be there if I need them.
I feel more free, strong, and resourceful because I know I can live on less money if I need to.
I feel less susceptible to advertising and wanting STUFF because most of it isn’t worth it to me, in terms of the money I would have to earn to buy it, and all the steps that go into production and shipping and disposal of it.
Realizing I have most of what I’ll ever need has freed up time to do things I enjoy and spend more time with friends.
Borrowing or trading instead of buying new has brought new friends, closer ties with old ones, and a stylish wardrobe thanks to our annual clothing swap and my initial forays into some local thrift stores.
Doing without has been a great option that has helped bring less clutter into the house. I’ll still be working on decluttering some of what was already here in the coming year.
Getting a CSA delivery has been so much fun and helped us to eat healthier and with less meat.
I’m happier in general, because of feeling more productive, more connected, and living more in line with my values.
Those are just some of the rewards, I could go on and on but the post is going to be too long. The main thing is that I really can’t think of any downside to doing this experiment, which is why it was an easy decision to keep going with it and continue doing The Compact into 2010. I will be loosening up some of my rules and buying a few more things new, and I’ll tell you about that in a later post.
For now, I wanted to express how much I’ve gotten out of this experiment that I undertook almost on a whim. And to assure you that if you’ve considered doing it yourself, it’s not nearly as hard as you might think. I really want to communicate that anyone can do it, that there’s nothing amazing about me. I know it was easier for me because I don’t have children and because my husband wasn’t on the Compact, but my point is that it didn’t take any particular amount of willpower or strength of character. Whatever your situation, there’s all kinds of support out there and you can take whatever exceptions you need to make it work for you.
No one wants this to be so grueling that it can’t be a permanent lifestyle. And a lot of people thinking about their consumer habits and doing the best they can is going to make a much bigger difference than a few people living completely off the grid or isolated from the rest of society.
It’s been an extra bonus that so many people have written to me and told me that this blog has inspired them to join The Compact in 2010. I didn’t do this to “spread the word” but it is fantastic to know that I’ve made any difference in how we’re all thinking about what we’re buying.
I really am not the most frugal person you’ve ever met, the most creative or crafty or resourceful, or even the least interested in fashion. I’m just someone who said they were going to do something and then set out to do it. That’s really all it takes. The discipline and support and everything else you’ll need will be there for you once you take that first step and make a commitment.
Thanks for reading, and please feel free to share your thoughts in the Comments section.