You’re Richer Than You Think: Try the Global Rich List Calculation

John and I have never been rich by most American standards, though we’ve gotten along fine — especially because we’ve always been careful with our money, and because we apply MOGO (Most Good) principles to our spending habits (and thus don’t buy a lot of stuff we don’t need). In fact, in recent years we’ve both chosen to work part time, and to work (at least in part) in jobs that feed our passions (his, to bird; mine, to create a humane world), and thus, don’t really feed our bank account that much. So, we’ve been whining a little bit lately about how we wish we had a bit more money, just for security.

What a perfect time for me to run across mention of the website Global Rich List and discover that we’re in the top 9% of the richest people in the world.

The site’s creators have set it up so that you can input your annual salary (in U.S or Canadian dollars, pounds, euros, or yen) and calculate your “rich list position.” Odds are that you’ll be toward the far right of the spectrum, in the richest end. They also have a little reminder about what you can do with your money, such as:

  • $8 could buy you 15 organic apples OR 25 fruit trees for farmers in Honduras to grow and sell fruit at their local market.
  • $30 could buy you an ER DVD Boxset OR a First Aid kit for a village in Haiti.
  • $73 could buy you a new mobile phone OR a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in Uganda.
  • $2400 could buy you a second generation High Definition TV OR schooling for an entire generation of school children in an Angolan village.

And, of course, they link to an organization that you can support with your donations.

When we’re in the midst of our own financial insecurities and challenges, tied to the pull of our needs and desires (that often seem like needs at the time), it can be so easy to forget that many people struggle to get by on $2 a day…or less.

Try the Global Rich List whenever you need a reminder of the fact that you’re richer than you think, and pass it on to others who might need the same.

~ Marsha

Thanks, Global Sociology Blog, for the heads up.

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7 Ways You Can Support Fair Trade

October is Fair Trade Month, designed to educate others about the importance of fair trade and encourage them to buy fair trade products.

The goal of fair trade is to empower producers in developing countries, advocate for a fair price for their goods, and to establish social and environmental standards for the production of those goods. (Find out more from Wikipedia.)

When we buy products, most of us want to know that our desire for coffee or chocolate or sugar isn’t harming people or the planet. Fair trade is one avenue for helping us make more positive choices.

Here are 7 ways you can support fair trade:

  1. Buy fair trade products whenever you can. Look for the certified fair trade labels from Transfair USA or Fair Trade Labeling International. Fair trade products can include coffee, chocolate, sugar, rice, tea, bananas, flowers, and many other products (including non-agricultural ones). Transfair USA, Global Exchange and the Fair Trade Federation offer resources on where to buy such products.
  2. Ask stores, restaurants and any place that sells products like coffee, tea and chocolate to stock fair trade products.
  3. Educate yourself about issues surrounding fair trade, so that you can make informed choices and share what you’ve learned with others. A few useful resources include:
    Transfair USA
    Global Exchange
    Co-op America
    Fair Trade Resource
  4. Teach others about fair trade issues. Host film screenings, discussions, parties, tastings and other events. Talk with your friends and neighbors. Contact retailers and legislators. Write letters to the editor. Give presentations at schools and community events. Post to your blog, get a widget for your Facebook page, share with your online communities.
  5. Introduce fair trade products and issues in your community – at work, your place of worship, school, community groups, etc. Encourage your community groups to become part of Co-op America’s Fair Trade Alliance, or suggest fair trade fundraising for your child’s school.
  6. Participate in campaigns such as Reverse Trick of Treating or Fair Trade Month to increase awareness about fair trade issues.
  7. Work to get your town or city declared a fair trade town. Use resources such as those from Transfair USA and Fair Trade Towns USA to help you.

If we stay connected to our deepest values, maintain awareness of the impact of our actions, educate ourselves about positive alternatives, and take steps to make MOGO (Most Good) choices, then we can work to help create a world that’s fair for everyone.

~ Marsha

MOGOnomics: Save Money AND Make Humane Choices

With gas and food prices climbing higher than ever and the U.S. economy looking like a whole room of cats have been slapping it around, chewing on it and hacking it up like a hairball, more people are looking for ways to save money. For some, that connotes an either/or situation: I can help the earth OR I can buy what I can afford. Recently a columnist wrote about reverting to shopping at Wal-mart as a way to save money, priding himself on being a savvy shopper.

But as a recent CNN article shares, other people are focusing on the fact that saving money and “saving the Earth” are partners. The article highlights The Compact, which started a few years ago in San Francisco, California, originally focused on a vow to “shun consumer culture for a year in the name of conservation.” A few years later, the group now has 9,000 members and start-up groups around the country.

Our culture and media have created misperception, misunderstanding and a false either/or dichotomy about living well and doing good. Organics are too expensive. Being eco-friendly is only for the rich. Shopping at discount stores is all I can afford. This perspective misses out on a whole lot of truth and reality.

Just two examples:

I buy nearly all my clothes at thrift stores, and I find great stuff there for terrific prices. Way better than anything I would find at a discount store. And, I’m not supporting all the products made in sweatshops, the oil consumption from long transport of goods, the poor pay that most workers at such stores receive, and so on. And, if I can’t afford a thrift store, there are always garage sales and clothing swaps with friends and neighbors.

Certainly, some organic foods can be more expensive than their conventional counterparts, but not only aren’t we taking into the account all the crop subsidies organic foods don’t get (and many conventional crops do), we’re often not thinking about the pesticides, the health of the land, transportation costs, habitat destruction, etc. But, even comparing prices straight across, you can often find bulk organic items for the same or cheaper, and you can find affordable food at many farmers’ markets and CSAs (community supported agriculture). Even cheaper is growing some of your food yourself, so that you know everything about it from seed to table.

There are plenty of ways that we as individuals can make choices within our tightening budgets that are also compassionate, just and sustainable. It’s too bad that our culture doesn’t focus more on those.

Wouldn’t it be great if our governments and businesses were encouraging us to look for creative solutions to our economic difficulties? Establishing neighborhood support centers, classes and workshops for learning valuable DIY skills and handling money intelligently? Wouldn’t it be great if our media weren’t sending out messages like: “Help the economy: Buy stuff!” but were instead sending out messages like “Help your community: volunteer! Get involved! Use your skills and passions to make a difference!”?

Part of living a MOGO life is learning to approach challenges differently and learning to develop creative solutions that benefit all people, animals and the planet, and we don’t have to wait for society to show us the way: we can choose it for ourselves.

~ Marsha