the 3/50 project

The idea behind the 3/50 project is for you to spend $50 per month in each of 3 local businesses that you would miss if they disappeared. According to the project, of every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home.

I personally don’t make many purchases online, I do mostly research, but I really appreciate hearing an actual cost of where I’m spending my money. This just reiterated the fact that so much of what we consume, some necessities and some not so, really have bigger costs than we often think about or realize or are told.

I really enjoyed my Buy Nothing Weekend as well, instead of participating in the excesses of Black Friday. I went out to eat at a local restaurant and bought some onions at a local grocery so I could cook for a friend. It really brought some awareness to my spending, it wasn’t really that difficult to minimize spending and to focus on local spending, and I look forward to trying to spend my money locally more in the future.

I also happen to be reading the Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan which I highly recommend to anyone who is interested in the true cost and implications of what they’re eating. I like to spend money on food, a lot of money, and I often wonder how much of the money I spend is necessary and how much of it is just me consuming for the sake of consuming, hoarding, listening to the pretty packages offered by Trader Joe’s pretty shelves.

I’d like to share some interesting tidbits from the book…
“It’s true that cheap industrial food is heavily subsidized in many ways such that it’s price in the supermarket does not reflect it’s real cost. But until the rules that govern our system change, organic or sustainable food is going to cost more at the register, more than some people can afford. Yet, for the great majority of us the story is not quite so simple. As a society we Americans only spend a fraction of our disposable income feeding ourselves – about a tenth, down from a fifth in the 1950s. Americas spend less on food than any other industrialized nation, and probably less than any people in the history of the world. This suggests there are many of us who could afford to spend more on food if we chose to. Aren’t we spending it on cell phones, tv, and other goods?”
“Our food system depends on consumers’ not knowing much about it beyond the price disclosed by the checkout scanner. Cheapness and ignorance are mutually reinforcing.”

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One Response to the 3/50 project

  1. SteveM says:

    I liked that book (O.D.) too. I think reading the whole thing, and not just the parts that appeal in particular, is a useful exercise. More generally, I think reviewing the Luddite movement history might be instructive.

    Re: local vs. non-local, the internationalism arguments Bush I et al made in the late 80s, is also instructive, to see which key assumptions have panned out and more importantly, which might have been wrong, and with what consequence. Q: was Ross Perot right (remember the “giant sucking sound “)?

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