Secondhand Living

What might your life be like if you gave up shopping for a year?

The question may not be your usual conversation starter, but it’s one that a group of environmentally-conscious friends posed over dinner just over a year ago, reported Jay McDonald in Blame it on the wine, maybe, but ten relatively sane people pledged not to buy anything new for exactly one year. (Exempted were food and some “health and safety” necessities, such as toothpaste and shampoo.)

Well, what started as a grass-roots experiment in anti-consumerism has spread nation-wide. An online support group, The Compact, boasts some 8,000 members. Its mission:

To go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture

To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash compact-er)

To simplify our lives (as in calm-pact)

So how did the experiment turn out for the original group of middle-class pioneers?

According to numerous accounts, excellent. Unexpected benefits of the undertaking included:

A feeling of interconnectedness, the result of having to ask people for things

Patience, the result of waiting for cravings to pass

Clarity, the result of distinguishing what they needed from what they wanted

Improved quality of life, the result of having less “stuff”

By Carrie Rattle

Carrie Rattle is a Principal at, a website for women focused on mind and money behaviors. She has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years and hopes to inspire women to better prepare themselves for financial independence. Read More