Monday, October 01, 2012

Used vs. New in the 21st

While I was clicking through ‘news’ stories the other day, I came across a video article from The Jeff Probst Show, headlined“Could You Buy Nothing New for 5 Years?” in which Mr. Probst interviews a woman as a member of the Compact Movement who has not purchased anything new in the past 5 years.

The Compact Movement is a group started in San Francisco in 2006, among a group of friends who challenged one another to refrain from purchasing any thing 'new' for 1 year. Their goals were as follows:

1.      to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socio-economic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc.;
2.      to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er);
3.      to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)
The people involved in this movement buy used items from thrift stores, garage/yard sales, barter, trade, and rescue items destined for the trash. They refurbish and repair items that others normally discard. When they do purchase new items, they restrict their purchases to local small businesses whenever possible.

Now, this isn't the first time I read about this movement. I read another article some years back when the movement first started, and my thoughts at that time were the same as they were when I saw the video clip the other day. "Well," I thought, "this idea isn't new to me. I've consumed in this manner for most of my life."

In fact, I was raised to consume in this manner, as my mother was raised before me. I own very few items that I purchased new, and those items that I did purchase new, I have kept in good repair or had repaired when needed in order to avoid having to purchase new items. I can honestly say that I haven't purchased a new item since 2004 when I broke down and bought a microwave to replace the old one I had for 20 years.
Every piece of furniture I own I purchased from a thrift store, garage/yard sale, bartered for, or rescued from the curb. The same is true of my appliances such as my coffee maker, food processor, toaster, etc. My clothing, except for undergarments, I purchase from community volunteer thrift stores and local consignment stores.
I have never purchased a new car. The car I have now is a '98 Saturn and the one before that was a '96 Ford Crown Victoria that I purchased from a friend for $300.00 and had on the road for about 2 years.  That car, like the one before that, I donated to the Kidney Foundation.

I also purchase most tech items used.  I bought the computer on which I am typing this post, as used furbished for $125.00. My TV I bought from the Salvation Army Thrift Store for $50.00. I bought my XBOX (an older model) for $5.00 at a garage sale. My landline phones and answering machine were given to me. A few years ago, a friend gave me a computer monitor when I helped him out in purchasing a car. I purchase video games, DVDs and CDs from local businesses that buy and sell used items. Many of my books I purchase from used bookstores or my town's library used book store.

I have bartered on several occasions by working for people such as helping them move, painting, or gardening and even writing, which is how I attained some of my most prized pieces of furniture. A few years ago, the sum-pump broke down and my brother traded an old one he had lying around for my old turntable, a pot of chili, and two loaves of homemade bread. It was a perfect deal!
Bartering and and trading goods and services is also a good way to create community. Some of my most prized possessions I acquired through bartering services such as helping someone to move, painting, gardening, and even writing. Many times someone will give me. or I will find, an item I cannot use , but rather than have it thrown out in the trash I will take it. I then try to find someone who can use the item. If within a year I find no one who can use the item, or if I cannot sell it at a garage sale, I donate it to a community volunteer thrift store.  Donating back to the community is the opposite end of buying used.

Living a Compact Movement manner is not only a cheaper way to consume; it is also good for the environment. We live in a throw-away society, in which people are always looking to buy the next best thing and the old is tossed out.  Everything we throw into the trash molders and damages the Earth and serves to destroy Nature's delicate balance.
The old sayings as well as the new still hold true for us as humans and for the Earth. A few of these sayings are as follows:
          "Recycle whatever you can, whenever possible, where ever consumption is concerned."
          "Make it up or wear it out, use it up or do without."
          "Respect the Earth as your Mother, for humanity's contiued existence depends on it."
Thanks for reading. ~Yvonne~
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