I have been reading a great deal lately about the Buy Nothing movement. Another trend sort of like it is downsizing your life, getting rid of commercialism and clutter. In the first movement people are trying not to purchase things, in the second, people are giving away or otherwise getting rid of all the stuff they have that they don’t NEED or use. These are great things, and I am certainly not one to criticize, but I just wonder when did this become trendy?
I am recently remarried, but for a long time I was a single mom. My daughter and I lived off of about $2.50/day. We didn’t eat out unless someone else was paying. No movies, no CDs, no cable TV. I worked from home on a borrowed computer because I knew that it would be hard to afford the gas for a commuter job and the company I worked for provided high speed internet and a phone line. My daughter was home schooled,for a variety of reasons, one being because that way it didn’t matter what sort of stuff she had or what clothes she wore. I still don’t have a cell phone, and for awhile I didn’t even have a home phone. My entire small apartment was furnished from a thrift store and free cycle.
The nice thing was (and still is) no credit card debt, because they don’t give credit at decent rates to poor people. We had to go to the library if we wanted to read, going to free art gallery openings was groovy because most of the time they offered free refreshments and great art, we attended lots of school board meetings, city council meetings and fund raisers because they are worthwhile, and often have free food.
Now that I am married, we have a little more breathing room, but still it is a big struggle, and no room for recreational shopping or impulse buying. The thing is, I thought this was called poverty not a trendy movement. Maybe it is different if you are doing it by choice not because you have to. Never for a moment did I pat myself on the back and think that I was doing something good for the planet, I was just trying to get through the day. And a good day was going to bed not feeling just a little hungry.
The thing is, there are millions of people in the US just like I was, and most of them are single moms. Working poor, one bad choice away from living on the street. We think of homelessness and hunger we don’t think about that single mom that works in our office and always dresses a little odd or frumpy. The lady that gets left out of Friday Pizza parties and such because she just can’t chip in the $5.00, who just eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches she brought from home, and everyone wonders what her problem is. That lady is the one to whom the whole idea of people making a choice to not buy anything, needing to self congratulate for not being greedy Americans, buying books on how to not buy things or to get rid of what you own, and starting support groups, is just a tiny bit offensive.
Who knew poverty would become the next big trend????