Let's Start a New Green Revolution
Buying Local Sends a Message
My purpose for writing this hub is to inspire you all to start a new green revolution. It will have an impact on our earth, but it is about "voting" with another type of green - the dollar.
As recent reports of Black Friday violence have been publicized, one must wonder why Americans subject themselves to such indignities as camping out at the door of a corporate chain when they could be spending quality time with loved ones around a table, expressing gratitude for all the blessings already given that year.
Twenty-First Century Commercialism
While average citizens are sacrificing the comfort of their or their beloved family members' homes and tables in favor of camping out at the doors of corporate chains, the owners and workers of those chains are not losing warmth or sleep thinking about them. They are happy to take the buyer's dollars, then rest easy the remainder of the year, while the buyers have to pay back their debts for the price of those items, plus at least 21% interest. Well...the owners might rest easy, but the workers may be laid off after the big-ticket buying season is over. It is too bad that so many people feel the need to do this, but our society dictates that there must be expensive presents under the Christmas tree or one should feel otherwise unloved. Why does our society hold such notions? My best guess as to the answer would be - Media: billboards, television, commercial radio, trendy magazines, and mainstream newspapers.
Alternatives to Commercialism for Every Citizen
So, in the spirit of the Occupy movement and with the purpose of supporting in solidarity our fellow members of the 99%, here is the plan I suggest:
1. Turn off the Television
What would happen if you turned off the television for the week and plan to do other things instead? Here are some activities that would make awesome substitutes:
a. Play games with your spouse and children.
b. Make something or practice an instrument that has been neglected for a while
c. Find out where there might be live entertainment in the form of a play or puppet show to enjoy. Live productions of favorite stories are exponentially more entertaining than screen versions. At the same time, you'd be supporting local arts organizations.
d. Create your own local free entertainment by gathering a group of friends at your home, such as spending time over a potluck meal and some games or a musical "jam" session.
e. Take an evening walk and watch the night sky sparkle!
There must be great things that one can accomplish while not watching television. The television robs us of brain cells, energy and drive.
The "Bread & Puppets" group at Occupy Boston ~
2. Support Local Farmers, Artists and Craftspeople
These are the people who are working hard to maintain their integrity while the rest of the world sells out. Please reward them with your loyalty. They will not offer unreasonable sales at crazy times. They will offer fair prices all year round because they realize that most of their neighbors are working as hard at earning an honest living as they are. They do not produce anything in bulk, but they do take care to make things of high quality. I have made a habit of cultivating green spaces, creating quality art and stitchery to sell. I support local farmers, artists and craftspeople.
3. Make Your Own Holiday Cards and Gifts
During our last trip to the grocery store, I realized that there is not enough money in the budget to buy commercial greeting cards this Christmas. Thus, my daughter and I are using this reality as an opportunity to make our own. They will be original creations made with all the love and gratitude in our hearts, sent out in #10 envelopes and Sealed With A Kiss.
4. Visit Your Local Independent Book Store & Borrow from the Library
Now that Borders Books and Music is history, there is room for a tide change. Yes, Barnes and Noble still exists, but so do Independent book stores who offer choices that the corporate chains do not.
If funds are particularly, low, I know that your local library must be missing you, too. Please visit and make friends with your librarian. There are wonderful ways to pass time there.
New ideas come from reading about things in more depth than most people are exposed to, or given a chance to be. It is necessary to make an extra effort to find out more information about subjects, such as the history of the development of the United States Constitution. There are also some great heart-warming books about everyday unsung heroes, such as Dewey the Library Cat. We must not leave our education to the whims of others. Reading about those who make positive change in the world, or checking the "facts" that we see or hear, is most likely a better replacement for the time that used to be spent watching television.
Libraries also supply free or discounted museum passes to their patrons. All you need is a card for checking out books and you are eligible to use the passes for a day.
The library is paid for with our taxes, and the necessity of its continued existence is measured by how many people check out the books that are shelved there. Poor and homeless people use the information offered in the library to help lift themselves up. Please let your local town government know how important the library is to our continued survival as a species by checking out books You can also stop by your local Occupy camp library and support them, too.
5. Grow Your Own Food and Make Your Own Meals Together
It is so easy to get into the car to drive to a fast food eatery, or to "order in" for packaged foods. But these have taxes attached to them that could mean they cost even more than originally priced. If done often, this habit could suck up so much of the hard-earned family income. Why not save your money for a bigger treat instead?
If we do eat out, we do so at our local, family-owned cafes and restaurants. The rest of the time my family cooks at home. I love to cook, but many fun and memorable moments can be enjoyed by creating simple child-friendly meals at home, with the entire family contributing in some way. My daughter loves to help with the cooking and baking, and my husband spots me when I need to work later on a Monday.
The ingredients for home-grown meals can be bought at a farm stand, such as for hearty soups made during the colder months of the year. Fresh ingredients make tasty meals! But you don't have to stop there. You can grow some fruits, vegetables, and herbs yourself, either in a backyard plot, a community garden plot, or in containers on your back deck. What you do not have room to grow, you can buy locally, and organically.
For preparing a soup, each family member can take a turn at chopping, seasoning, or stirring. If the family is making pizza as a dinner, each family member can contribute to making the dough for the crust , rolling it out onto the pan, and spreading the toppings. Take advantage of the time together to create something that feeds you both physically and spiritually. Such things keep the family bonds strong and buffer against stress. They keep you well in the face of adversity. Personally, and spoken as an educator, I think that elementary school children's time is better spent this way than on homework.
You can grow your own food Anywhere!
If you don't think you have the room to grow food, think again! You can take your first step on the road to a sustainable lifestyle with this book.
6. Swap Clothes Instead of Buying New Ones
New clothes can be expensive, but when the old ones wear out we need to know how to provide for ourselves and our families. Instead of paying corporate prices, arrange a clothes swapping party where people can exchange clothes, thereby gaining new additions to their wardrobe for free. For a party like this, people gather and lay out things that they are tired of or do not fit right and then gain something new that they need. A friend and neighbor of mine did this, and many individuals and households benefited from it.
These Clothes Swapping Parties can be publicized through social media, private email lists, or as Meet-Up events. If more than one person organizes the event, snacks could be offered (fed children are often easier to "shop" with than little ones with hungry stomachs). Perhaps a cadre of people can get together to take turns hosting one. They can happen monthly, or even quarterly. Try one and see what happens!
Good Will stores are a more organized form of this, really. You bring the clothes that children have grown out of, then purchase things that fit you better at more affordable prices. The money you spend at the shop is given to those in dire need. Many people benefit.
7. Save More Money for an Unforseen Emergency, or a Rainy Day
There are ways we can save money for ourselves by getting used to enjoying the more intangible pleasures of life. We can also get our children used to a family culture of giving and receiving graciously intangible birthday or holiday gifts instead of toys. Such gifts may include time spent together at a favorite location, such as a local park or skating rink. What is your favorite (affordable) way to spend time together?
When my daughter was small and we lived in Boston, I asked family to send us money instead of toys because with it we would enjoy puppet shows at the Puppet Showplace Theatre by the Brookline Village trolley stop on the Boston green line trolley. From that, my daughter has developed a passion for puppetry that we have nurtured in other ways since we have moved.
At the top of our trip wish list is a chance to take our daughter back to North Conway, NH to ride the Polar Express from the train station. We are especially interested in doing this since it benefits children's literacy and is sponsored by the family-owned bookstore in town ~ White Birch Books. We know that we will need to save up for this for a few years, but it will be worth it.
What is your favorite location to go to for an affordable good time?
A book full of recommended projects for the frugal ~
Materials for dream projects can be found in surprising places. Read this book for ideas about how to use old, cast-away items around the house for new projects.
8. Bond with Others in Solidarity by Volunteering Time ~
Whether it is serving a meal, or a basket of food, to those in need, or knitting hats and scarves for people to wear for keeping warm, your talents can reach many and touch lives in unexpected ways. It is very likely that your life will be touched in return. If you do this in the company of others, then your world will be that much warmer with more friendly acquaintances and supportive friends with whom to share time and memories. In this way, we are supporting our brothers and sisters of the 99% to thrive when they need help in that thriving, especially when they have been hit hard by the greed of corporate banks, business owners, and negligent landlords***.
Volunteering also looks good on a resume, and counts as work experience. The Boston Food Bank is one place where I met lots of groups from a variety of local companies volunteering their time so that their fellow citizens in need have food to eat. Your efforts could lead the way to more gainful employment. There could be hiring managers who are volunteering alongside you.
*** Note to any landlords who might read this: I am not saying that all landlords are greedy; most just need to make ends meet. It is also important to help renters keep their homes instead of throwing them out into the cold, especially if they are reliable and respectful toward your property. Please work with such renters. They want to do the right thing toward you, too.
Links to Inspiration along the Journey ~
- Occupy Together | Home
This is the home page of the Occupy Movement. On the site you will find a brief history and ongoing reports about and the work and experiences of all the brave "Occupiers" out there.
- Bread and Puppet: Cheap Art and Political Theater in Vermont
This group has been active since the 1960s and 1970s, and hosts a fascinating and engaging museum.
- Chuck Collins - Institute for Policy Studies
Chuck Collins visits organizations such as churches and other nonprofits, and trains people regarding how to form, lead, and keep an "Economic Security Group" running.
- Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood Home
The Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood counters the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education,research, and collaboration. We support the rights of children to grow up at their own pace...
- Bikes not Bombs
A link to getting youth involved in solutions to the current US economy and involvement in unjust wars.
- The Freecycle Network
What would a hub about frugality and saving money be without a link to this much-loved and widely-used resource?
We might not be able to physically join the Occupy movement protesters, but we can support them in solidarity by waging our own revolution against corporate greed. Let the risks they have taken and continue to take spark in you the spirit of revolution against greed, and take charge of your bank accounts instead of allowing advertisers have any influence about where your money goes. Instead, enjoy quality experiences with family and friends in ways that are friendly to our planet's environmental health. I hope that the suggestions I have outlined above are helpful to you in finding a place to start. Enjoy!
© 2011 Karen Szklany Gault