Friday, April 2, 2010

Economic Stimulus: I Did it My Way.

"I am tired of 'the consumer as savior of our economy,'" bemoaned Alea in the comments section of a blog post in My Year Without Spending. Alea, I couldn't agree more.

In my home state of New Jersey, our new governor, Chris Christie, recently proposed repealing Bergen County's blue laws, which keep malls in Paramus closed and streets blissfully traffic free. More mall shopping, more tax revenue. Governor Christie does not live in Bergen County.

Is it too soon to start campaigning against him? I liked the response of the mayor of Paramus: Over my dead body.

I recall a television ad for a shopping mall where a woman was loading up her car with bags and her sad looking daughter sat there. As soon as the woman put a bag for her, a huge smile came. The ad just made me sad.

Why is our economy always projected in the media as being so dependent on shopping, especially at Wal-Mart and the like? I saw a story in the paper about consumer confidence being up and a woman hold up many shopping bags smiling. Is she our savior?

There are plenty of ways to support our economy without going on a shopping spree. Here are my favorites.

The cinema. I saw, I adored.

Local groups, like Bergen County Historical Society. For $20, I am now a proud card carrying member.

What would I do without my beloved library? They are are so under threat right now when citizens need them more than ever. I picked up a form to "be a friend" of my town library.

I love DVDs at home, not only for their value, but all the informative extras. This week's pick: the sexy Cherie. A new release, just $1, helps fund their DVD collection.

Concerts. I'll be blissfully in the audience in New York City's Concert Hall in about two weeks to see Natalie Merchant perform songs from her new album of poetry put to music, Leave Your Sleep. She's talked about how it has opened her eyes to the power and beauty of the word. All avid readers and writers can attest to that.

She'll also be at Barnes and Noble Union Square on Wednesday, April 14th. Learn more. For CD purchases, I head to an independent shop, Music Merchant, in Westwood.

Education. I think education is often so unappreciated in youth. Many just don't have the perspective or gratitude to enjoy unbridled days of learning.

Community school programs are a fun, inexpensive way to learn or hone a skill. I have a weekly infusion of French.

I picked up a French version of Harry Potter in Paris. Said it before, will say it again: Hermoine is a great role model for young girls.

Picnicking. Fill a basket or backpack with goodies from my local farm or Trader Joe's. How does Branch Brook Park in Newark sound to see the cherry blossoms? I was there last year...

Travel. My sweetheart and I have enjoyed a lot of little fun weekend getaways: a B&B in Vermont, exploring Washington, DC, country weekends in Watkins Glen and Woodstock (below, the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary). We aren't big consumers when we travel. We support local restaurants, artisans, historical sites, museums and such.

We travel instead of doing Christmas, Valentine's Day and anniversary gifts. For birthdays, something little: he got me a Whole Foods card so I could get some vegan goodies, I got him a case of his favorite beer and bottle of his favorite wine.

Community events. My church recently had their annual pancake breakfast, $5 a person. An hour afterward, I went into a pancake-induced coma!

Isn't the plate pretty?

Other favorites: local food festivals, independent restaurants, charitable organizations, and again, farms (Demarest Farms is opening this month).


Cate said...

I love your lists of simple pleasures! I recently picked up a "be a friend" form at my local library, too! I'm excited to add them to our charitable giving roster, especially since I've borrowed literally thousands of dollars worth of books from them over the years!

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Thanks very much! I too calculate having saved thousands by patronizing the library. I use it for everything: books, magazines, travel guides, music, DVDs. I can't believe I used to spend $5 for a Blockbuster rental!

Angela said...

Love the post Catherine!

All great ways to support local merchants and the economy without coming home loaded down with piles of Stuff.

And may I add, in my opinion, your ideas add up to a much richer life than a bag from Saks or Tiffany's will buy you.

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Thanks Angela. There's a lot of talk about local food, which is important, but local establishments, groups and main street need people’s support too.

I feel so much more content than I did in my previous life of going to a mall "recreationally." I can't imagine going back to that lifestyle of coveting expensive things.

Vegan Supplement said...

I love how you spend your time wisely in a very ideal ways. Haven't thought of things you just did. I will definitely add this on my blogroll with other blogs i saw before this blog.

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Many thanks for the comment, Vegan Supplement!