THOUGHT OF GIVING IT ALL AWAY
TO A REGISTERED CHARITY,
ALL I NEED IS A
PINT POUND A DAY.
(thanks paul for that one – ETA Band On The Run, suddenly realised people may not know that)
Apparently that is what is needed to live below the poverty line. A £1 a day. In US terms, it is $1.50.
I first read about the Live Below the Line project via free penny press who is taking the challenge to live on $1.50 a day for five days in May. Link here.
As she says on her blog, there are 1.4 billion people in the world who live on that every day, and not just for food – that is to include everything.
The $1.50 a day initiative is from the Global Poverty Project, and free penny press is going to donate money not spent on her normal grocery bill to the project, to help those billions of people who are starving while we all wander the supermarket aisles, choosing our daily delicacies. OK, I added that last bit.
When I first read about this, I thought it would translate to – £1.50. That would be £15 for two of us over five days, pretty doable really for us being vegetarian. No £32 a kilo fillet steak here.
Then I read the UK version of the website. Hmm, a pound a day. That tightens it up a bit. From what I see American food seems pretty cheap too, so in the UK, the cost of living is higher, and we get less than our American colleagues to spend. That’s life I guess.
So, you all want to know? Is Ms Principled Ethical Vegetarian Roughseas going to join in?
1) The whole point about all of this is raising awareness with friends, family, colleagues, people within your local community, and making people think differently. I basically have none of those. So that’s easy. Nice cop out there.
2) My Partner is working on a construction site and wandering around on scaffold boards seven or eight floors up in the air. I can not feed him to do that on £1 day. Or even my £1 as well which would mean I would eat nothing for five days. I think not. Him falling off the scaffolding would achieve nothing for anyone. I could do this £1 a day on my own? But why?
3) We do live cheaply. I suspect my food bill is a lot cheaper than most of the people who read my blog. Bought, organic veg are a luxury that I indulge in. A few years ago we were living on 40€ a week. That’s 20€ each for seven days. Oh, and that included cheap wine and cheap beer.
Eating simply, cheaply, and well is not difficult. People don’t want to do it anymore.
When I read about this challenge, my first thoughts were lentils, rice, chapattis (home made). Any home made bread. Pizza. Potatoes. Pasta. Garlic, chilli and ginger for spices. Foraging. Anything from the garden in Spain.
I read the suggested recipes. Not surprisingly, it read, lentils, rice…. etc etc. Truth is, people in Andalucía regularly live on legumes and starches, and so do we. A week’s worth of bean slop is not an unusual occurence. It is cheap, filling and nutritious.
I read the interviews with people who had lived below the line, one on the American site and one on the British one. Two very different interviews and worth a read.
The American one left me with a bad taste in my mouth. And it wasn’t just the bacon cheeseburger and macaroni and cheese that were ordered at the same meal.
This is a woman who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi, just spends five days living on $1.50 a day to raise awareness about poverty and then pigs out. So to speak.
Gripe Number One
This challenge is about trying to help poor people who are starving, and there are a lot of them.
It’s a great idea to focus on this for five days, and then go back to a rich affluent lifestyle where you grossly overeat.
Why anyone wants bacon and cheese together is beyond me (that’s before I even get into why anyone wants to eat dead pigs) – but why they want to combine it with macaroni cheese as well just leaves me cold. Probably with indigestion too. Remind me again why obesity is such a problem?
Gripe Number Two
Meg’s team considered eating meat. Come on!!
They bought tins instead of dried beans because they were better for portion sizes. Sigh. Does that mean they didn’t want to eat the same beans all week?? What is wrong with buying a two pound bag of dried beans and eating them all week? Well?
Then they bought a can of parmesan cheese.
At which point, I seriously switched off. There was a line in the post about not playing poor, that she wouldn’t feed anyone else by doing this, and that it was a revelatory experience.
It did however show solidarity with the poor. Yeah great.
Now if that is my reaction, what do you think Greedy Corporate
Wankers Bankers and Very Rich Persons will think to this initiative? Because they are the ones who should be trying to live on $1 or £1.50 a day.
They are just going to laugh. Seriously. In fact, I know plenty of ordinary people who would laugh at it and say ‘Fuck Right Off.’
And that is the problem.
We are not going to get rid of poverty and 1.4 billion starving people until the avaricious western world starts limiting what it uses because otherwise there will be no redistribution of
wealth resources. Who wants to do that?
That £1/$1.50 a day is a token gesture because it doesn’t include fuel, electricity, transport, clothing, internet access and everything else we all take for granted.
So what is Ms Perfect doing to save the world apart from appearing to criticise other initiatives?
1) I try and walk or cycle wherever I can. Next I take public transport. After that, the vehicle is the last option.
2) I don’t eat meat, fish or chicken. Yes, there is an environmental impact to eating those and if you don’t believe it/aren’t aware of it you are living in prehistoric times. You also happen to be causing an awful lot of animal cruelty and abuse to have a dainty steak on your plate, but this post isn’t about that. Just thought I would remind you all though.
3) I recycle what I can, don’t throw out unless something is beyond repair, and give old clothes to charities. I rescue stuff (ok Partner does that one). I avoid shopping apart from food.
4) I haven’t eaten out for X years, or bought take-away food. Mainly cost, but also quality. Just, why bother?
5) I don’t believe everything I read. I don’t believe what governments tell me (I can say that, I used to work for one), and I certainly don’t believe what money-grabbing global companies tell me.
So, my helpful conclusion to all this is, that, Global Poverty Project needs a second stage.
And that should be:
How I have changed/improved my life to help me/the world/the environment/the 1.4 billion starving people. Not just for five days, but for maybe a year or so? Or longer?
Because no-one wants to be told they have to give up the bacon cheeseburger and macaroni cheese do they? So we need to focus on improvements and good things and not – losing our luxuries of life. Maybe we need to change our ideas of luxuries too. Greasy bacon cheeseburger with equally greasy macaroni cheese full of saturated fats and dairy products perhaps isn’t such a luxury.
Wise up GPP and improve your PR. Still, you have got me writing about it, so that can’t be bad.
ETA – This post isn’t about deriding people who are taking part in the challenge. It is about pointing out to those who aren’t interested in poverty, globalisation, someone else’s life – that you do impact on it and that you too can take part, by spending less and consuming less every day of your life.