Cause4Opinion

The Upside to Living Below the Line

I’m not going to lie; I enjoy the odd snack here and there. It is not uncommon to find me munching on a biscuit, a muffin or even a full bar of chocolate that was made to be shared. So when I first heard about the campaign to live on £1 a day for a week, my initial thought was that it was a ridiculous idea – you can’t even buy a Flake 99 ice-cream for that anymore…. However, the more I looked into it the more benefits I saw to it.

Live Below the Line was started by two anti-poverty activist Australians in 2010 and has grown into an annual global campaign. The aim of the week is to raise awareness and funds for the 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty around the world, with participants donating the money that they would have spent on food to one of the campaign’s partner charities. Getting the backing of some of the world’s biggest charities such as Oxfam and Save the Children is no mean feat. The innovative nature of the campaign has led to this support and has already raised over £120,000 in the UK.

On top of this, two statistics illustrate why this campaign has unintended social consequences:

–     In the UK alone around 15 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year.

–     In 2012 26% of all adults in England were obese, and it is estimated that by 2050 half of the UK population will reach this threshold.

Despite many campaigns, such as Love Food Hate Waste trying to promote more efficient food use, the amount that we waste is still extremely high. If you are living on £1 a day however, every morsel counts and you learn to make the most of your meals and any leftovers.  It has also been well documented that obesity is on the rise in the UK. Numerous initiatives have highlighted the damage to people’s health and to the national economy from obesity-related illness. However if you only had £1 to spend on food your intake would change dramatically. That burger and chips would be much less appetising for a start, not to mention too expensive.

Nobody should have to live permanently on £1 a day, and in industrialised countries it is virtually impossible when price differences are taken into account. However, as well as drawing attention to extreme poverty, Live Below the Line illustrates that making good healthy meals is a lot cheaper than buying fatty foods and that wasting food is a waste of money. The campaign is an excellent one, and it will certainly make me think twice about a pack of digestives now.

Will you be living below the line from 28th April to 2nd May? We’d love to know your thoughts.

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