Alex Renton has just hit the nail on the head in an article in January’s Prospect mag.
“I do hate fashionable thrift. There are few things as unattractive as the rich talking about the joys of saving money. Especially now, when it is the duty of the wealthy to spend.”
Along with fashionable environmentalism, fashionable thrift is ubiquitous of late. It’s a shabby, shallow puddle of a solution that seems to be proffered as the panacea to all evils without much of a second thought. Was everything that went before excessive, greedy and gluttinous? And before that? Does every middle-england broadsheet reader dine on wagyu beef and truffles? It was an expensive enough country before the grey spectre of economic gloom settled on us, surely. And, if you are able to, then why aren’t you supporting small shops, restaurants and businesses when they need you so much now?
Likewise, eco-mindedness cannot be a trend – the real questions are too scary. It must be a way of life, a culture, a taken-for-granted norm, like schools, central heating and safe driving. It takes common-sense and wise governance to live less wastefully, not a flurry of ethically-sourced, vegetable-dyed, sympathetically marketed, hedge fund backed self-help eco guides.
Most of all, those offering advice must themselves exemplify and demonstrate the message – so, if you’re a London newspaper, for example, and you back a ‘save the small shops’ campaign (therefore supporting the environment, local community and small businesses), please don’t withdraw your circulation from said independent shops in favour of the UK’s largest supermarket chain (thus turning your back on your own sparkling idea). Oops, too late.
It’s easier said than done. But please, spare the public belt-tightening and self-promoting stinginess if you are in a position to help the economy, support businesses and keep things running, even on the smallest scale. Your country needs you.