Maybe it's that I've been watching too many documentaries, but I've lately been consumed with the vision of the type of world we will be leaving for our children. Somewhere between An Inconvenient Truth , Happy Feet , and all the books, magazines, and radio stories and everything, I started to think about doing something drastic. Last night, I was watching The Corporation , and I thought about this piece I heard on NPR about a year ago. It was about a group of friends who had a dinner party and were feeling the same things I have been lately, and they decided to take a pretty drastic step.
The next part is lifted from their website :
A group of individuals committed to a 12-month flight from the consumer grid.
The Compact has several aims (more or less prioritized below):
- To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc. — a step that, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact.
- To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er).
- To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)
We've agreed to follow two principles (see exceptions etc. below).
#1 Don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
#2 Borrow, barter, or buy used.
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 like Viagra or Botox)
- necessary cleaning products, but not equipment (don't go out and buy the Dyson Animal, for example).
- socks and underwear (utilitarian–non-couture or ornamental)
- pajamas for the children
Utilitarian services (plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, veterinarians, dog/house-sitters, fire/paramedics, dry cleaners, house cleaners, etc.) — Support local and encourage used parts (rebuilt transmission, salvaged headlight unit, etc.)
- Recreational services (massage, etc.) & local artisanal items – Good sources for gifts, but should not be over-indulged in for personal gratification
- Charitable contributions (Seva, Heifer, and the like) – an even better source for gifts
Plants and cut flowers – Whenever possible, cultivate from free cuttings or seeds. Ok in extreme moderation when purchased from local businesses (i.e., not the Target Garden Shop)–and again, within reason
- Art supplies – First line of attack: SCRAP. When absolutely necessary (for the professionals and talented amateurs in the group), from local businesses
- Magazines, newspapers, Netflix – renewals only, no new subscriptions. Even better to consume online. Video rentals and downloadable music files (non-material) — freely shared and legal, please.
So Charles and I have decided. We're doing this. Starting on his birthday (May 2). I'm going to try to get some family and friends to try it too. Think about the changes we could make… Think about the money we could save… Think about the behavior we'll be modeling for our kids…