A few days ago I read about The Compact on a friend’s blog, and I think I’m gonna give it a go.
The idea behind The Compact is to reduce our individual consumption by not buying new things (except necessities, like food, drink, medical/safety stuff, essential cleaning/hygiene supplies, necessary services, etc), and when possible, buy used, barter or borrow to get things you need.
The Compact seems to target US consumer culture, but since I don’t live in the US and I think the problem of consumer culture is larger than just America, I would like to extend the reach of The Compact all the way out here to Istanbul. Why the heck not!
Anyway, here is their official manifesto:
1) TO GO BEYOND RECYCLING IN TRYING TO COUNTERACT THE NEGATIVE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIOECONOMIC 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
3) TO SIMPLIFY OUR LIVES (AS IN CALM-PACT).
Basically, I’ve already been heading in this direction since we arrived in Turkey, since we’ve had rather limited income, and although it has sometimes been challenging, I’ve survived. In fact, its sort of become normal and I kind of enjoy roughing it. Its rather liberating!
I would like to state, for the record, that I’m not 100% in favour of the idea of only buying ‘local’ goods and produce. I think it is good to promote local culture and to preserve the diversity of different regions, cities, countries, etc., but at the same time I don’t like the idea of blocking out competition from other countries (namely developing countries, struggling to compete in the market where the odds are stacked against them by bigger, more affluent nations). I’m no expert in these issues, but I can’t help but feel like farmers in Africa, Asia, and South America deserve to make a living by selling their products just as much as North American or European farmers.
Also, I am going to try and stick to The Compact on a month-by-month basis. I’m not into setting myself up for failure by committing to a whole year, when I have no idea what my life will be like in a few months or a year or whatever. And I will make some exceptions to my no-buy rules, such as a good pair of hiking boots and possibly some other necessary gear for our summer journey. I’ve been told that second-hand shops are rare or non-existent in Istanbul (except for used furniture and antique shops) so if I wear my clothes out and they are hanging on by a few threads, I might have to buy something new. But I don’t think that will happen for quite some time.
I think that its important with these things to remember the spirit of the thing and not get too tied down to dogma or the ‘letter of the law’, if you know what I mean. So, I am going to simplify as much as possible, use the stuff I’ve already got and stick to the necessary items. Should be an interesting challenge!
If you want to know more, you can check out The Compact blog.