That is the tag line from one of my favorite blogs, The Non-Consumer Advocate. She subscribes to a “buy nothing new” lifestyle. Meaning, everything (other than a few exceptions like food, toiletries, underwear, stuff like that) are either purchased used, salvaged, traded for, Freecycled, Craig’s Listed…you get the idea. This is a movement that started with a group of folks in San Francisco (where else!) about 5 years ago, and has picked up followers all around the world since then. Everyone is free to make their “rules” and exceptions. Some people will buy new if it is handmade or directly benefiting a local business, or will buy new books because that is their passion and they want to support the authors (but only from local bookstores). Pretty much it is just about becoming conscious of our consumerism and determining how much we NEED to buy, and how much we would just really like to have in the moment, and how much we can repurpose instead of buying more disposables that will probably end up in a landfill sooner rather than later.
I have looked at this movement with envy and grand ideas of joining them for a couple of years, but every time I start to think about devoting myself to the concept I suddenly realize I DESPERATELY NEED those slipper socks/pajama pants/water bottle/earrings/new skirt/4 fleece blankets RIGHT NOW!!! And I end up purchasing said items from Wal-Mart or Target or Old Navy or whatever. Now, on one hand those slipper socks, blankets and pajama pants have made it possible for me to keep my heat down at home and save on utility bills…but did I really need them NOW or could I have worn older stretch pants, already owned slippers with already owned socks, and hit a thrift store for some blankets (even if they didn’t match as perfectly as the set of fleece ones).
So, without feeling the need to wait any longer I am going to jump into it and see how it goes doing The Compact for 2011 (and the last 2 weeks of 2010). This might be really easy for me. After all I really don’t have money to be spending frivolously on “stuff” anyway and if I could cut my spending way back and maybe even build up some savings that would be brilliant. BUT it might also prove to be really hard for a couple reasons, #1 being that I live in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina, Wal-Mart pretty much IS where there is to shop for this stuff without driving 30-60 minutes towards Asheville for real thrift stores. and #2 my car is pretty much a giant hunk of scrap metal that only works about every other month which makes driving those 30-60 minutes near impossible unless I bribe a friend to drive me. I am going to make exceptions for the standard underwear, socks, even sheets if I need a new set and my big one, yarn for knitting and crochet. But for the most part everything else I am going to do my best to see if I can do without or get it used, and if I can’t find it used then maybe I don’t need it so desperately after all!
BUT buying used isn’t the only part of this that is important. There is the that age old axiom that I led this post off with “Use it up, make it last, make do, or do without” Kind of like people tend to get really hung up on the “RECYCLE” part of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and forget about those other 2 R’s that are even MORE important! So when I start jonesing for stuff that would make my life easier or things I would really really like to obtain, I look around to see what I can make do with or what I can make last.
My example for today is – a tea kettle! I heart tea kettles. I think they are pretty, cozy, and can really make a place feel like a home. I love places that just have a brightly colored tea kettle sitting on the back burner at all times just WAITING to heat up some water for you. But I am also realistic and I realize that my kitchen really doesn’t need another item taking up space, needing to find somewhere to move it when I am cooking, spending the money on one when a small sauce pan on the stove works JUST as well. But this morning my saucepan was in use for other purposes and I just wanted a single cup of hot water to make my miso soup for breakfast so I decided to look around and see what I could make work. When a friend was moving out she brought me a bunch of her stuff she couldn’t take with her. One item was a little 2 cup coffee pot that is just adorable.
Only problem is, I really don’t drink much coffee at home so it has just kind of sat there looking cute and unused (except for it’s brief moment of stardom when I used it as a prop in my acting final substituting Pepsi for coffee…it was a brilliant performance on the part of the coffee pot, very method) So I decided to dig into my bag of tricks and modify the COFFEE pot to be my new TEA pot! When I stay at motels and I want hot water for tea I always take the little coffee filter holder out of the pot (because it makes everything that passes through it taste like stale coffee) and I take the lid off the pot so that all now more free flowing the water actually ends up IN the pot and not the counters. Well, I did the same thing on this little pot, tucked away the filter holder thingy and lid in case I want to make coffee in the future, and voila! 2 cup tea pot that doesn’t take up a ton of room and makes just enough for me alone and doesn’t make my miso soup taste like 2 week old coffee grounds were mixed in.
Honestly, if I had to buy a 2 cup coffee pot for this purpose I wouldn’t have. It is super handy, but a pot on the stove works just as well too, even if I do have to wash it first. But by using what I had on hand that was given to me for free instead of shoving it in the back cabinet until I randomly felt like making coffee at home (which happens maybe once a year) it was an all around winning situation. And it helped me make this delicious, healthy (if not particularly photogenic) breakfast of miso soup, tangelo and homemade toast w/ butter.