Monday, December 18, 2006

I Couldn't Get By Like This, Could I?

An article in today's Washington Post discusses a group of friends who decided not to buy anything new for a full year, and who, now that they've done it once, have pledged to go another year. I'm mildly anti-stuff -- I try to figure out whether something I'm considering buying is something I want or something I need. If it's the latter, no problem, but when it's the former I've been known to agonize over the purchase. For example, my mp3 player isn't in the best of shape, and I've been considering for several months whether to replace it, or to keep using it until I run it into the ground (also influenced by the knowledge that technology will only get better and cheaper the longer I wait). The bulk of my purchases are things to be experienced rather than things to hold onto, e.g., food, beer, travel, soccer games. But I'll still buy "stuff," mostly music. I never buy used clothes, but then again, I generally only buy clothes when what I have has worn out.

These people have taken my general approach to a whole new level. This year, for example, we bought items to replace things that broke (CD player, computer, toaster), and never considered buying used. It might have been beneficial to have done so, and certainly would have from the perspective of the landfill, but what if the used items had only lasted a few months? I have so little confidence in consumer electronics lasting for any length of time that I'd rather spend the extra few bucks on getting it new, with warranty, than risk used.

Do they own homes? When we needed ties for my downspout, would their compact have allowed the purchase of them new, or would I have to have looked for them on a scrap heap?

So many questions unanswered, but at the very least it gives me an aspirational goal, and it makes my anti-consumerist bent seem just a little less crazy.


Just a little note to wish my folks happy anniversary -- 41 years and counting, hooray!