A pledge to go a year without buying anything new

Karen Heimdahl used to be part of the throngs that crowd area malls at Christmas. But this year, bound by the Compact — a growing social movement in which members vow to buy nothing new for a year — she hit used book stores and consignment shops. Last Christmas her husband received gadgets from Best Buy. This year he unwrapped a hand-powered coffee grinder that Karen scoured eight antique stores to find.

“Buying new is so much easier,” she lamented.

The American economy depends on consumers willing to buy the latest in fashions, furnishings and flat-screen TVs. Indeed, in the weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, shopping was cast as a patriotic duty, a way to help prevent the economy from tipping into a recession.

But the Compact, started by a group of San Francisco friends as a rebellion against what they see as gluttonous consumerism and its thoughtless destruction of the environment, turns that notion on its head.


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