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The Compact

17 January 2008
Different kinds of people are taking the Minnesota Energy Challenge. For some, it’s a welcome into environmental and energy issues, an introduction into energy smart living. For others, like the Selly family in Minneapolis, the Challenge complements their efforts in their lives to simplify and reduce their environmental impact. The Selly’s have taken an extra step towards this by joining The Compact, a movement originating in San Fransisco dedicated “to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of disposable consumer culture and to support local businesses, farms, etc…To reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er)…To simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact).”

There is a list of exemptions – food, underwear, socks, medicine, toothbrushes, car repair, etc – items which must be bought new in order to maintain a healthy (and sane) lifestyle. In their blog, Patty admits that “I’ve had no fewer than 5 people ask me if we are “allowed” to buy toilet paper,” but the Selly’s are determined to simplify their lives. “[W]e aren’t trying to change the world. We just want to reduce the impact of one family, be more mindful of our behavior. We aren’t trying to cram this down anyone’s throat.”

Interestingly, after a reporter at the Star Tribune profiled the family, she received a lot of angry feedback from readers. “One guy basically said he hopes I lose my job.” Why is this issue so divisive? The average American household has around $8,000.00 in credit card debt. We’re obviously spending money we don’t have, so what is wrong about deciding to buy less?
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