Still Compact-y After All These Years

It’s been over 4 years since I made the commitment to join The Compact and stop buying new stuff. At the time, it was a one-year commitment. But after that first year, it became a lifestyle that I stuck with, rather than just an experiment or a challenge. I had absolutely no desire to go to a mall or buy anything new,  and enjoyed both the freedom and the extra cash that came with the non-consumer lifestyle.

However, after more than four years, I have given myself permission to ease up a bit whenever something comes up that is not easy to either buy used, borrow, or do without. Case in point: the Curious George toy pictured above, which I really wanted to give to our niece’s new baby boy. It has been one of our favorite gifts for a baby in the past, not only because my husband and I both love the classic book series, but because his name is George and he is nothing if not curious. So I decided to go ahead and purchase this cutie-pie, in hopes that he would become a favorite and beloved toy of baby Miles.

I did manage to include a handmade gift with the package by knitting a cute little hat, which Curious George is wearing in this photo. Hopefully it will fit Miles, because my first try came out so small it now belongs to my stuffed dog. We also added a couple of favorite board books, one of which was Curious George, of course. Books have been one of my exceptions to The Compact for a long time now, as I want to support writers and books and everything literary.

My other recent purchase was two pair of new jeans, because that is the one clothing item I have been unable to buy used or acquire at a clothing swap. Jeans need to fit perfectly and be comfortable, and I usually need to try on at least 50 pairs in order to find one that makes the cut. In fact, in preparation for starting The Compact, my final crazed last-minute purchase was two pair of jeans, when I realized that I didn’t have any jeans that would last me through what I thought was going to be one year of not buying anything new. I lasted four years, but my jeans were getting pretty worn out.

I’m okay with both of these purchases. I’m giving myself permission to buy anything I want new, because it is such a rare event, and because I feel that overall my purchases are conscious and responsible. And that’s the real point of this whole non-consumer thing.

If you’re a Compacter, have you purchases anything new lately? If not, are there any items you find particularly difficult to purchase used? If you’re thinking about joining The Compact, what items are you most concerned about not buying new? Please leave your thoughts and questions in the Comments section.


  1. says

    Aah . . . memories. We gave Curious George (book and stuffed animal) to several of our nieces and nephews. Always a hit.

    What I would not buy used: swimsuits, underwear, socks, and stuffed animals.

    • Angela says

      Nancy – I know, it’s a perfect gift! I have a photo of my friend’s baby (now 16-year-old son) holding on to it for dear life. She said it was always his favorite in the crib.

      I’m with you on all those exceptions. Although I have accepted hand-me-down socks from my husband. :)

  2. Marie-Josée says

    Hi Angela,

    So nice to read you. I really commend you for your balanced approach. It’s great that you are purchasing items that have meaning to you and that you have not turned into a zealous compacter basking in her holiness! I have not joined The Compact yet. My husband and I discuss it each year, but there always seems to be a big ticket item we are planning to purchase, so we always put it off. We aren’t typical North American consumers – shopping isn’t a hobby for us, in fact we both dislike it. Another issue that puts both of us off is that we are very busy – we both work full time, visit an elderly parent every weekend and live in a housing coop which requires investing time and effort in the coop. When we DO need an object (which is not often) it is more convenient to go to the store to purchase it. However, we do take the time to find homes for the objects we no longer use. I really hope some day we will make the commitment to The Compact. I would not purchase used: cosmetics / medication / supplements or food with an expiration date or liquids such as honey or oil, nor shoes. Strangely, I would not have an issue buying pre-loved socks or underwear (I would however, bleach those items, so coloured socks would be out!). Thanks for sharing Angela!

    • Angela says

      Hi Marie-Josee! IMO you have so much going on I don’t think you should pressure yourself to join The Compact. The point is to make conscious choices, and it seems to me you’ve been doing that. Also, when one is very busy some other things need to fall by the wayside in order to keep one’s sanity.

      I agree on your exceptions to buying used, although I have occasionally found shoes, but not ones that have been worn a lot – more like occasional use shoes.

      Thanks so much for commenting. I’m glad you’re still around. :)

  3. says

    A new MYWS post! Woohoo!

    Although I’ve never officially joined the Compact, I have lived pretty close to it until just recently. Because I am getting older in general and am developing orthopedic issues in particular, I have had to give up on buying used shoes (and have just done a major purge of old shoes that weren’t doing me any good). Similarly, I can’t always find used clothes that work for me any more. So I’m learning to do what I have to do and buy what I have to buy, though I’m still trying to keep the new things to the necessary minimum.

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