Is it eco-friendly to be poor?

Interesting search term someone used to get to the blog one day recently:
Is being poor eco-friendly?
Huh. Well, in many ways,I suppose it is.

Taking the bus, walking, or biking because you don’t have a car or can’t afford gas and insurance for the car you have.

Making your own chemical free cleaners because you can buy the ingredients using food stamps.

Using cloth diapers,cloth wipes…and sometimes even cloth to wipe with instead of toilet paper because the disposable products are something you can’t buy with food stamps and don’t have money for.

Buying everything second hand…not because you are trying to recycle and make a statement about consumerism with your dollars but because t’s just the most practical and frugal.

For myself, I have always had a strong DIY ethic and have practiced the same frugal and environmentally friendly habits in my own house for probably the past 20 years. This hasn’t changed with my economic status. The difference is , when one has financial stability and wants to make these changes in the own lifestyle, it’s a choice. 

There’s a big difference between voluntary simplicity and forced austerity.
Every month in the blogosphere there’s a new challenge issued to the Internet. From the clean eating or low grocery budget challenges to  “Buy NOTHING New for 30 Days!” Oh,please. That’s my life, 365 days a year. I can’t dismiss the intention behind this but I also can’t help be a little pissed off at the lack of props given to people who rise to the challenge daily because there isn’t another option. The lessons from these blogging challenges are self-serving . Even if trying to raise attention to worthy issues such as globalization and our changing planet, the discussion about human beings who are affected by these things on a daily basis is missing.

The “Green Living” movement has created a strange paradox. People spend a fortune on products sold to them with the promise that they can attain good environmentalist karma  when most (if not all) of those products are totally unnecessary or easily made with low cost ingredients. Poor people can live an unintentionally green life through necessity.  Yet the pretentiousness and alienation poor people feel from those with money and a will to do good for the planet is ugly.  “You don’t buy toilet paper  made with 100% post consumer recycled paper and no chlorine? Oh, you horrible, beastly person. You are the reason the planet is dying!”

I would argue that corporations and entities  bigger than the impoverished masses have a bit more to do with the planet’s demise.

On a bigger scale, poor people are the least likely to be able to make large changes in their life that would have a more profound effect on the environment and also provide immense benefits to low income and impoverished people. Solar and wind power, energy efficient appliances or even vehicles, land or greenhouse space to grow their own food…these things take some beau coup bucks …and a good credit rating.

6 thoughts on “Is it eco-friendly to be poor?

  1. I think you hit a good point. I run my own business but at this moment I have little money spare to live on which means:

    1. I have no car. I walk, cycle, use public transport.
    2. This laptop is a second hand purchase two months ago.
    3. I forage in the countryside for fruit,nuts and vegetables.
    4. I use solar power for my mobile phone.
    5. I buy only what I need, I don’t buy a lot.

    Downside of being poor for many is their ignorance, which undermines their ability to be sustainable.

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