Sunday, November 2

compacting...the year in review

I mentioned recently that we've been compacting for some time now, unofficially. I've been asked about how it has been this last year so I'll share a little of that.
Incidentally, this isn't that interesting. Don't expect fun anecdotes of frugal fun. If it wasn't my own blog I probably wouldn't read it.

Brief Background
Last September we emmigrated from the UK to Eastern Europe. We bought with us everything that could fit into a 6tonne van. DIY Dad will claim that most of that was taken up with my books. I say, one can't put a weight on knowledge.... but I digress.

We moved into a furnished apartment for a few months and then into an unfurnished one. We had a bed and a dining table but not much else.

So we were given, loaned, or we bought 2nd hand; sofa, chairs, dining chairs, wardrobes, 2nd bed.

We did buy new appliances that will be a long term investment in our homesteading, and that we couldn't find 2nd hand; fridge, dishwasher, washing machine. We aimed for the best energy ratings we could find. DIY Dad bought a TV, argh.

When the baby arrived, we were loaned or given; baby reclining chair, clothes, cloth diapers, musical chair, seat. We bought (because we couldn't find) a tub and a crib.

We networked and made contacts with as many expats that we could find, and we've made some great friends. What was interesting, was that we didn't have to tell people that we were eco-conscious and wanted to loan or buy 2nd hand. Everyone was just really friendly and wanted to share their baby items. We in turn will pass them along to the next new parents.

In the year, I have bought 3 items of clothing, because it is so hot here and I had nothing remotely suitable. Otherwise that's it. DIY Dad has bought trainers/sneakers. Baby has had a few essentials such as blankets.

Other than the appliances, we have spent almost nothing on 'stuff'. We would have spent even less if there were 2nd hand stores here. Unlike in the UK, where there are several in every city, they are non existent here. Here, the idea of buying preloved, or loaning from others, is considered embarrassing. This doesn't go for those living away from the town, such as in our village.

Once we move into the house currently being built, I know the temptations will be much, much greater. And of course, there will be some purchases that will be essential. Wood stove, cooker, gardening equipment, desk....

As far as furnitire is concerned, we'll be searching for local craftspeople to build us items from local wood. Possibly even wood we can gather for free.

What has this experience been like?
Well, I have to admit that being pregnant and then having the baby has been the overwhelming focus of my year. However, having a baby also brought with it many temptations - it's all soooo cute!
Also, 'they' try to convince us that we need all the paraphernalia. Deciding to babywear means that we didn't have to buy a pram - which are expensive and can be so wasteful.

It's also been made easier living in a small space. I know that larger homes tempt us to fill them. So it'll be a new challenge when we move into our own larger space.

Otherwise, it's been great. It feels liberating to choose not to buy new. DIY Dad, also known as Frugal Father, is always careful with his pennies. And I have been eco-aware for a long time, so we were never big spenders anyway. But we had fallen into the flow of modern city living - where buying new is as normal as breathing.

Although we visited charity shops and scanned classified for preloved items, we also just popped into the city when something entered our minds. And often, it ends up being a nonessential. You know how it goes - someone buys you flowers and you think, hmmm, I could do with a nice vase that complements the colours in x room. And while you're purchasing that vase, you spot a cushion that is too adorable to ignore, and then.....


Yes, gift-giving.

We never expected to find so many expats with young children here! It has been wonderful. But young children means birthday party after birthday party. Little wildflower is only 6.5 mths old and she has already attended three kiddie parties.

Although countries like England and America are the most wasteful, with more choices than is necessary for happiness, ironically choices in our modern world do afford us more eco-friendly alternatives. Whilst I would happily accept something weird as a present, or a donation to a charity in lieu of a gift, well, we all know that the average person would likely be offended, or at least highly disappointed. Another person's child is not the place to start being weird.

However, I have managed to find a couple of wooden toys and made a point of (casually) telling the parent why I chose wood over plastic. But those toys were rare finds. I have also baked cookies and created aromatherapy products as gifts. The impact I am making, is that friends are beginning to undertsand who we are (crazy) and hopefully any gifts to us will be mindful of our concerns for the environment and the welfare of people around the world.


  1. Yay! Love your work. That's quite a challenge so good on you for not accumulating great amounts of stuff.

    I agree with you on the gift-giving. It is tricky, and although I love receiving hand-made, second-hand or interesting (ok 'weird') gifts, other people can be quite offended. Not everyone I know is into handmade, (I love giving handmade gifts). I usually resort to giving food gifts in those situations.

    Books - so hard to relinquish.

    btw - I finally got around to doing the Green meme you tagged me for.

  2. This is very inspiring mon! I can't imagine not buying anything that was new for so long. but I guess that means I need to rethink my spending!!

  3. I hadn't even heard of compacting. How weird, well for me anyway. Sounds interesting to try but I doubt my husband would go for it. Good luck though.

  4. That's great. I would love to try the Compact, but so far have not done it. Like you said, it's so easy to fall into the habit of just popping into a store and buying new because it's so available and so easy. I hate to take the time to shop secondhand, I really do, but I'm trying to commit to it more than ever. I know it's best. Also, trying to always make do with what we have but I could be better at that too!

  5. Hi everyone, Yep, it's not easy, but it gets easier. Like most things I suppose, it becomes habit. Now it's a REALLY conscious moment when I go to buy something.

    ut as for the compacting challenge, you can try it for just a month, or however long you like. I'm a strong believer in that every effort, however small, helps.

  6. Gift giving is difficult. I've given Gifts in a Jar: dry ingredients for cookies or bars in a canning jar, along with the recipe. People enjoy them, and they can reuse the jars.


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