Tuesday, May 29, 2007

changing mindsets

I am noticing that I am not much interested in buying things any more - the habit of not buying is reinforcing the attitude that I don't want to/don't need to. It has been like going through a re-education processs - almost a reprogramming.

There are things that I will need to buy (new trousers are failry urgently required), but the buying with little or no thought seems to have been conquered.

We will see if it lasts.

Friday, May 25, 2007

feel like sharing?

If you'd like to write to this blog and share your comapcting experiences you're more than welcome. Email me on compactoz@hotmail.com and I'll add you to the list of writers.

Or you could join the CompactOz Group - see the link on the side.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Getting on the secondhand bandwagon

Last week I got smart.

I'd never asked before, but at my son's playgroup, I casually raised the issue of outgrown clothes.

All the mothers then started talking about how they were advertising their kids' outgrown stuff on eBay, and how they had garbage bags full of great stuff gathering dust in their garages.

I then said (casually, although this had been my plan all along), "Well, if anyone has any good stuff for girls that they're interested in selling that I could buy for Dawnie, that would be great!"

Next thing I knew, I was inundated with offers for great secondhand babywear! Go me!

It now looks like I'll never have to buy new again for my little girl. And the other Mums in the playgroup are now doing swaps and sales between us, saving even more new stuff from being bought!

Of course, this is what mothers used to do in the "old days" - before eBay. It just took a little incentive on my part to get the ball rolling again.

I'll be buying secondhand items for a quarter to half the price that they would cost new. The mothers who sell them to me will clear out their old stuff, saving themselves the hassle of advertising on eBay, and earning some useful cash for their families. Everyone wins.

Our society needs to lose the silly idea that buying secondhand is somehow shameful. I think buying secondhand is clever. Instead of wasting our money on clothes, we can save our money for something far more important, such as our kids' education, or helping them to buy a home of their own in years to come - long after any clothes are gone in the dustbin.

Finding my boundaries

I'm the mother of a 2 1/2 year old toddler (a boy) and a 3 month old baby (a girl). I'm happily married to a high-earning professional, am a high-earner myself, and we're in great financial shape.

But our lifestyle doesn't reflect our finances. For the past six years, we've been living in a small two bedroom unit, in a very modest suburb in Melbourne. While we were comfortable for the first couple of years, to say that we're crammed in like sardines is an understatement. We need larger digs.

But now we're faced with a clash between ethics and practicalities.

I'm hankering after a three bedroom home with a playroom. Nothing huge - certainly nothing on the McMansion level - but just something where we don't have to step over the bottom of the bed to get to the cot, because the room is too small to walk around it. I'd like the kids to have a bedroom each. And a playroom would be wonderful - a place where they can make their own noise, and I don't have to pick up every single toy at the end of the day, so I don't trip over them on the way out the kitchen at night when I get a drink.

But is it luxury to want more? Am I being greedy, or practical? What is enough, and how much is too much? I'm sure all those families out in Sylvania Waters in their McMansions are convinced that they need their 'parents retreats', 'cinema rooms', 'spare rooms', 'guest rooms', 'pool rooms' and so on. What we need, in our society, is often in our minds rather than a facet of reality. Compare Australia to Bangladesh, where a family will be happy to have one room where the roof doesn't leak.

Maybe we just have too much stuff. We did a Year Of The Cull last year, in which we sold so many possessions that we were able to live off the profits for three months - the sales paid our grocery bills for many, many weeks. And still we have no lack of what my husband would call 'junk' in our home. I'm inclined to agree with him.

So - do we move to larger digs, or do we baulk the trend, and raise a family of four (plus cat) in a small (9 squares) two bedroom unit? This question is all about finding my boundaries - convenience versus absolute minimalism.

I think we'll be bowing to convenience, and moving. Does it count as buying something new? I'm sure it does.

But I know one other thing - as a promise to the planet, if we move to a larger home, I'll be installing solar hot water and a rainwater tank. And if it has garden space, I'll be plonking in a few fruit trees.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

using it up

I am currently working my way through stuff in the bathroom and laundry cupboards. So, all those half used little bottles of shampoo from hotels and mini toothpastes and samples of face cream are being put to good use. The hotel shampoo thing has always been a dilemma - do you bring it home and use it (or not) or leave it to be chucked out? Better to use it, I thought, except that I didn't ... I just seemed to accumulate them.

Well, now I am mending my ways. I am using stuff up. Seem to be getting a bit more space as well. Funny that.

Friday, May 18, 2007

the big issue

This has been bothering me for some time. There is a guy who stands outside the supermarket I got to selling the Big Issue. I think the BI is both a good publication and a fantastic initiative, and like everybody who sells the magazine this guy could obviously do with some more trade.

But I don't buy it because, well, I'm compacting and I am trying REALLY hard not to buy things. But funnily enough in this instance it is not making me feel so good.

To buy - or not to buy?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

the whole carbon thing

I was looking at second hand books on the web the other day, and was rather astonished by the purchase and handling costs from local suppliers. So I checked out Amazon and found I could buy what I wanted much cheaper from the States - even with the currency conversion and freight costs. And then I got an attack of the guilts about the ethics of carting something around the world just so I can save a few bucks. Doesn't seem right somehow (especially as I am after a couple of Peter Singer's books on Ethics and Globalisation).

Upshot - no books, old or new for me. But on the positive side I am getting more patient and acknowledge that I don't necessarily have to have them Now.

Goodbye instant gratification.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

NoMoreStuff available as RSS feed on LiveJournal

A very quick note to all readers: NoMoreStuff is available as a syndicated feed for users of LiveJournal.

Simply go to http://syndicated.livejournal.com/nomorestuff/profile and add NoMoreStuff to your friends list, so that you can read our blog at LiveJournal.

Too easy!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

managing desire

I have noticed that being a compacter does not result in automatically not wanting new things - it helps, but I still see things I want to buy. Not buying things immediately has made me realise how transient the desire for things can be - what seems irrestible one day may generate only a flicker of interest a week later. Not giving in to instant gratification has a really positive effect.

When I do think I really must have something, I write it down. I have a list of 'highly desirable items' that I may buy one day. Whenever I add something to the list I see something else there that I figure I really don't want all that much any more. Knowing that I can purchase these things should I really want to (at a date to be specified) stops me feeling deprived.

It has been over three months and I am pretty pleased with how I am going - and astonished at how much I used to buy. And I was never an enthusiastic shopper ...

Friday, May 4, 2007


It's interesting how expectations change as society (and levels of affluence) changes. What I find interesting is the expectations and assumptions that we seem to take on unconsciously. Like why is it not seen as acceptable to give second hand gifts to new babies of friends and relatives? And why do we all need so many clothes and so much stuff in general?

One of the great things that has come for me out of compacting is the questioning of things that I just took for granted, and the re-evaluating of what I really need and really want. Am finding that they are both considerably less than I would have thought a few months ago.

we've set up a Google Group

We've set up a Google Group and if you're thinking 'it's about time too!' I don't blame you. It is pretty much a blank canvas at the moment, but get yourselves in and get going.

You'll need to sign up as a member to post to it - but it seems quite easy.

Here it is: http://groups.google.com.au/group/compactoz/topics

Sorry - can't make the link live, not sure why.