12 Monthly Challenges

Join us on our journey to a more sustainable lifestyle.

June: The “Compact”

Well, it’s been quite a journey and I can’t quite believe it’s been a year since we started this challenge.

Just to round things off, I would challenge you to do “The Compact” for a month, or “Buy Nothing New”.  We did this last year in May and it’s probably had the most significant effect on our lifestyles.  It was quite difficult and made us realise quite how addicted we are to “consuming”.

Currently the UK uses energy and resources that, if scaled to the World’s entire population, would need approximately 2.5 planets. At the last check, we don’t have that available. We need to have some quite radical changes to achieve an equitable use of resource. Taking on “The Compact”, even for a short period such as a month, helped us to thoroughly analyse our needs.

The rules are quite simple, but you may need to find some “buddies” so you can support each other: we had two other families involved, which meant we could gift or swap things for services.  We found a local Facebook buy & sell page for parents which came online at the same time, which proved to be very handy and has grown very successfully since.  I thought I was in trouble when I was asked to buy my daughter some new piano books for her lessons, but I even found those on Preloved.com!

That change in mindset has meant that we try to think first “how can I avoid going straight to the shops for this “thing”?”  It may be that we make something at home, upcycle, buy second-hand, or visit the charity shop before we resort to buying new.  There are many talented people in our community who can make alterations to perfectly good items. You may have that skill yourself, or might find you wish to learn a new skill.

These are the main rules:

  1. First principle – don’t buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
  2. Second principle – borrow or buy used.
  3. A few exceptions – using the “fair and reasonable person” standard — i.e. you’ll know in your heart when you’re rationalizing a violation:
  • food, drink, and necessary medicine (no elective treatments)
  • necessary cleaning products, but not equipment
  • socks and underwear (utilitarian)
  • pyjamas for the children.

There’s more guidance, such as using farmers markets and vegbox schemes for food, and which shops qualify (local, artisan, charity, etc.) at the following link, though you may need to find UK equivalents as this was a movement that started in San Francisco Bay, US. http://sfcompact.blogspot.co.uk/2006/01/new-years-resolution.html

Join a facebook type buy&sell group – drop me a line if you want me to point you in the right direction.  Preloved.com is also an excellent site, and you can see where the seller is so you can buy as close to home as possible.

Other good sites are “Freegle”, where goods are exchanged for free: you can post “want” or “offer” adverts.  Remember the library for books and DVDs. Downloadable music and films purchased online are also allowed.

We found the process drew us closer to our friends and helped us discover community services we didn’t know about or used infrequently previously.  We had some lovely feedback on the more unusual presents we gave at children’s parties.

Don’t forget the 12 monthly challenges are on the Transition Website if you missed anything or want a reminder on tips for greener living.

Hope you enjoyed challenging yourselves this year… keep it up!