The "Ah-Ha" Moment

I’ve officially been a member of The Compact for a little over a year now, since January 1st 2009.

Without a doubt, my two biggest influences during that time were reading The Non-Consumer Advocate daily, and viewing The Story of Stuff.

Katy Wolk-Stanley writes the daily blog The Non-Consumer Advocate, which was a lifesaver for me during the early months. Not only did Katy make it look realistic to live a Compact-y lifestyle, she actually made it look fun. I visit her blog nearly every day, for tips and advice, inspiration, and laughs. She’s a great writer and she walks the walk. Her blog quickly became my favorite and although I now read several blogs, it’s still my favorite.

The Story of Stuff was the other thing that really made me serious about committing to a non-consumer lifestyle. It takes so many issues I’ve been thinking about over the years, and weaves them together into a concise relationship and narrative. For me, just one viewing turned me into a more conscious consumer and made me determined to be on the proactive and positive side of the equation. It’s so eye-opening and inspiring, and it spells it all out in such a simple way. I highly recommend it for anyone on the non-consumer/conscious consumer/sustainable/green path. In an instant I switched from a mindset of giving things up to feeling empowered and no longer at the mercy of advertising and the desire for yet another consumer item.

Are you on a non-consumer journey? What are your influences? Have you experienced an “ah-ha” moment? Please leave your thoughts, ideas, and questions in the Comments section.


  1. Lisa says

    I love Katy's blog too and find it very inspiring. I seldom buy anything new though I'm not officially a compact follower. Minimalism isn't my cup of tea either though I could certainly prune things down from where they are now. My one question is this, "What is the best way to deal with a significant other who doesn't have the same mindset?"

  2. Betsy Talbot says

    I just read a great quote today:

    "You can never get enough of what you don't need to make you happy." – Eric Hoffer

    Happiness means you need less stuff. At least in my case.

    Thanks for sharing these resources. I knew about NCA but not The Story of Stuff.

  3. halfdozendaily says

    I really like the "Story of Stuff" too.. it was quite an eye opener!! Since then i've been buying used as much as possible, I 'freecycle' and am trying to 'simplify' what I can. :)

  4. Jane says

    I like Katy's blog too – and yours :).
    I am not officially compacty as I am avoiding all shopping completely (aside from essential food) for a year, basically to declutter. But once my no spend year is up, I am looking at only buying second hand where possible (which I pretty much did before).
    I love to hear about anyone doing the non-consumer thing :).

  5. MegExpressions says

    When I moved from Seattle to Portland I ended up giving away/selling about 3/4 of my possessions; kitchen things, furniture, and clothing. I still miss some of the things but not to the point that I won't survive without them….and my life feels much simpler without them. Checked out "Story of Stuff"……good stuff, lol. m

  6. Alea says

    I didn't have an ah ha moment – I had an ah ha week! In one week I saw 3 different friends, who grew up in wealthy families and are now doing very well (despite the recession). Each one of them complained of wanting extravagant things, that their husbands advised against: a vaction home, a convertible, and a steinway. They sounded like spoiled brats. One even said, "if my husband were a little more ambitious…" They couldn't see all that they had, because they were so focused on the one thing that they didn't have. I realized that I was very blessed to have a father who taught me that I could do without and that I needed to give my kids that same "gift"!

    BTW, I am good enough friends with each of these ladies that I gave them a gentle lecture and will be following up with a used copy of "Your Money or Your Life". 😀

  7. Katy Wolk-Stanley says

    Thanks for the nice words! Looking forward to meeting in person!

    Katy Wolk-Stanley
    "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without."

  8. Kim says

    I've had a sort of ah ha 6 months or so. I've been gradually converted to living thrifty and not buying. My husband and I both became un-/under-employed in Ireland, and where the economy went down the drain, and we've moved to Istanbul, Turkey, to teach English. Money has been fairly tight, and ESL teaching in Turkey means you never know what or if you'll be working the next week. Not spending has become necessary. But the other big eye opener is the city culture of Istanbul. There are so many people in this city trying just to earn the equivalent of 5 -10 US dollars a day to survive. Then there are the many rich people living it up big-time consumer style. For now I just want to try and liberate myself from always wanting more stuff and from being dissatisfied, and instead learn to be more grateful for everything I already have.

    Thanks for your inspiring blog, and I too have become a big fan of The Non-Consumer Advocate.They both help keep me going!

  9. Compact UK says

    Thank you for reminding us about the story of stuff, that video is always interesting to watch and I learn new things from it each time.

  10. Eleanor says

    The "Aha" moment for me has been combining the philosophy of The Compact with the principles of the book "Your Money or Your Life." Buying "pre owned" allows me to work less, trading less of my life to the task of earning income.

    Also, I have been surprised at how easily my husband is adapting to this lifestyle. I took him to Goodwill for the first time this past Sunday. We were strolling ot the checkout with our treasures, and he commented, "I can see how this can practically become addictive!"

    Right now, I am waiting for the "right lamp" for my kitchen. Fortunately, goodwill is on my way home, so I can check daily, and I plan to hit an estate sale and some yard sales this weekend. While part of me wants the correct lighting NOW, it's not worth trading a small portion of my life for it!

  11. Angela says

    Thanks for all your comments and insights!

    Lisa- Your question is a great one. I'm lucky because my husband is a big supporter and facilitator of my commitment, but not actually on The Compact. In a way that's the best of both worlds. I don't have any advice for a spouse who's resistant, which would be very difficult. It seems like it would need to be a household commitment on some level. But then again, sometimes small steps can win someone over.

    For example, with my husband I try to do things by example. I have the compost pot on the counter, but I'm not going to get into an argument if I see him throw a banana peel away. He'll get into the habit by watching me, is my logic. This commitment is important to me, but my number one commitment is to my marriage.

    My husband and I have been coming to this mindset together over a period of years- not wasting, buying used, being frugal, green, etc.- so for us there's no one sort of "telling the other person what to do." We've just been observing the general culture together.

    My best advice would be to lead by example, to be gentle, and never to make your partner feel bad or wrong. Whatever they're doing is probably something you did in the past.

    Jane- I need to declutter as well, so "buy nothing new" has been close to "buy nothing" – except for gifts, etc.

    Meg- 3/4 of your stuff- wow! that's really something.

  12. Marie-Josée says

    Our ah-ha moment occurred about 10 our 12 years ago when our children were away for a week. Our home had a yard and a pool, yet we spent the week bringing our dinner to a local park situated by the St-Lawrence River and our weekends hiking. We both resented the time, energy and money involved in being homeowners and to maintain stuff. It took us another 7 years before we actually sold our home and have slowly been simplifying since then.

  13. The Meyers says

    Ugh, this is the first time I've been able to get back to some old bloggers since our move at Thanksgiving! I miss you guys!!! Keep up the great work.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *