The premise of this article is that the wealthiest 1% got rich — and continue to do so — by selling us stuff we don’t really need. So all it takes to redress the balance is for us to buy less of that stuff.
1. Don’t change your car this year — or next. Your car is still doing the job you bought it for — taking you to work, the kids to school, the family to the game and so on. Unless it has started costing you a lot for repairs and/or the tires are worn, why change? Sure, the ads put out by the makers tempt you with all the great features available on the latest model and offer so called ‘fantastic’ deals on finance. But why get yourself into debt for something you don’t really need, yet?
Same goes for your spouse’s car.
And your teenage kid’s car.
2. Don’t change your refrigerator, washing machine, dish washer, microwave, oven, hob, coffee maker, boiler, etc. Same reason: the ones you have are still working fine, doing what you expect them to do.
Do, however, look after them: clean them regularly.
If you are in a hard water area consider installing a water softener to prevent the build up of lime deposits.
3. Don’t upgrade your smart phone, TV, tablet, laptop, computer, just because the latest version looks great and does things your present device doesn’t.
Are you sure you need those extra features? Will they require you to sign up for extra services adding to your monthly outgoings? Remember, those charges are how the likes of Apple and Google got rich and are getting richer. But are they really value for money, or can you continue to do what you need to do with the device you have?
Same goes for your spouse’s devices.
And your children’s phones and gaming consoles.
4. Instead of buying the latest fashion wear, make the clothes you have last for another season.
In fact, forget the whole idea of ‘seasons’, except in the original meaning of spring, summer, fall, winter.
Like the electronics industry, fashion businesses are among the biggest polluters, the biggest users of plastics, and the biggest exploiters of sweated labour.
5. Eat out less often, purchase fewer take-away meals.
Prepare and cook your own food using produce sourced locally.
When you do eat out, use local, family run, establishments rather than a branch of a big, corporately owned, chain.
6. Spend less on sugary fatty snacks. It will be good for your, and your family’s health, as well as your pocket. Eat fresh fruit, sourced locally.
7. Consider going vegetarian. The big agricultural corporations want you to buy beef and pork to boost their profits.
And those of the abattoirs and meat packing factories, distributors, super-markets and fast food outlets.
Eating only vegetables cuts out a whole raft of businesses involved in converting vegetable matter into meat for human consumption, never mind the health benefits.
8. Don’t buy top of the range food for your pets. In fact, don’t buy anything ‘top of the range’. The price of the advertised ‘extra benefits’ is just another way for the corporations that produce it to increase their profits.
Notes about the environmental impact of these suggestions:
It’s tempting to think that changing your car for an electric or hybrid one would be good for the environment. That’s what the makers would like you to think and I agree, up to a point, having been a long time advocate for all things ‘green’.
Here are some of the caveats to bear in mind when making that decision:
1. Does your electricity supplier generate power from 100% renewable sources (wind, solar, hydro)? If so, charging your car’s battery is eco-friendly. If not, less so.
Switch to a supplier who does before you give serious consideration to buying an electric car.
2. The distance an electric car will cover before the battery needs recharging is an important consideration. You can probably cover a daily commute to school/work on an overnight charge at home. But, if you plan a long journey, are there sufficient public charging points on your route? Are they fast charging points — boosting the battery whilst you have a meal/comfort break, or will you have a long wait for a full charge?
3. Consider, also, the fossil fuels and plastics used in manufacturing the car and its components, and transporting it from the place of manufacture to you. How long will you have to run the car before the carbon saving you are making balances out the environmental cost of getting the car into your hands?
4. The same applies to the decision you could make to upgrade your kitchen appliances to A+++ energy rating. It won’t hurt to wait until you have had the most out of your existing appliance.
Some ideas for what to do with the savings you are going to make.
1. Increase the amount you are putting into a pension plan so as to ensure you continue to live well in later life.
2. Invest in small local businesses so that you share in their success and their profits.
3. Invest in insulation for your home and in generating some of your own heat and power by installing solar panels and a heat pump.
Back when I was a child — a very long time ago — the word ‘thrift’ was often used. It was extolled as an important virtue.
Encouraging us to abandon thrift is how the 1% got rich and continue to do so. The suggestions in this article are all about restoring thrift to our way of life. Maybe you can think of some others. Let me know in the comments.