Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A new consumer movement


I'm back from the holidays, and greatly refreshed. I think I shall have a few new thoughts for you in days to come.

One springs from a brief disappointment during our holidays, and how we coped. We were spending Christmas at a country house in Virginia, where someone had promised to cut us a tree that we could decorate when we arrived late on Christmas Eve. We arrived even later than expected -- only to find no tree and no prospect of one until sometime on the 25th. Bummer!

But as you see from the photo, we made do with some white pine trimmings left by the power company's right-of-way maintenance. We just stuffed their ends into a big mailing tube, locked the tube into the tree stand and decked the branches with lights and a few ornaments.

Our make-do decorations, I think, fit the spirit of a new group I just heard about that's been under way in San Francisco for about a year. They're part of the anti-consumer movement, which has been around a long time, but the pledge they take -- to buy nothing new for a whole year -- takes commitment to a whole new level. You can read about their thing in a blog called Compact.

The Compact site reminds me of the "swap shop" at my wife's old hometown, Henniker, N.H. There, the community maintains a significant recycling depot for paper, cans and bottles, etc., and part of it is a shed where people take still-usable cast-off belongings that elsewhere might end up in a trash can or, too often, a roadside gully. Everybody contributes and anyone can take away anything they find that they have a use for. Our daughter loves the colorful airline flight bag we found there. Is there a swap shop in your community? Tell us about it, won't you?

And what are YOU doing to re-use, make do or do without?

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