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“The Compact”: Reducing Consumption and Materialism

Updated on May 31, 2010

The Compact was originally a small group of consumers in the Bay Area who agreed that they weren't going to be consumers for an entire year. They formed a few years ago around the idea that new items other than food, safety and health items were luxuries which we were over-indulging in here in America (and around the world). They committed to buying nothing new for a six month period unless it fell in to one of these categories. This doesn't mean that they couldn't obtain these items throughout the year but rather that they would have to be creative in their acquisition of the items; purchasing used items from thrift stores, bartering with others and doing lots of recycling amongst themselves.

That was a few years ago and The Compact is still growing strong. In fact, it's moved out of the Bay Area and now has local chapters all throughout the world. The Compact Yahoo! group and The Compact blog are regularly enjoyed by people as they gain information about the group and have their interest piqued about what they can do to join in. So why is it so popular?

The people of the twenty-first century are aware that our resources are limited and that we are causing detriment to the world with our over-consumption. But it's more than this. People are also becoming aware that there is a stress caused in life when acquisition of material goods takes on a focus. Changing the focus from how to get more money to get new things and instead focusing on finding creative solutions to meeting community needs changes the entire perspective of approaching life. This is something that fills a need people have felt harping at them for a long time. The Compact meets that need.

The Compact reduces consumption but it also encourages us to stop thinking in terms of materialism and to re-focus on inner peace and a sense of community. There's even a spin off of the word - "calm-pact" - which reflects this feeling. When we are less concerned about how to get the next new thing that we think we need, we are able to attend to needs with more social and spiritual depth, enhancing our lives. So yes, The Compact caught on in part because it was a creative solution to the environmental issues facing the world today - but it continues as much more than that. It is a philosophy by which people are option to live, rather than a movement that some are interested in joining as a fad.


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    Allison Bamberg 10 years ago

    I am trying to find the webpage where I sign up at. If someone can please write me and let me know that would be awesome! Thank you, Ally