Happy Thrift Week! I would buy you a gift, but I'm a purist when it comes to honoring the spirit of this special holiday.
Finally: A holiday that hasn't been commercialized. In fact Thrift Week, during the fifty years it existed (1916-1966), was a celebration of all things non-commercial, or, perhaps more accurately, a salute to responsible consumerism, smart saving, and sustainable living.
Excuse me for a minute ... my Inner Miser is getting, well, a little hot and bothered by this whole subject...
"National Thrift Week" was started with the backing of the Young Men's Christian Association (Y.M.C.A.) and more than fifty other nonprofit organizations and public institutions as the First World War loomed on the horizon. It kicked off every year on January 17th, the birthday of "America's apostle of thrift," Benjamin Franklin.
Thrift Week celebrations were held in cities and towns across the country, with a different theme for every day of the week. You know, sexy topics, including: Have a Bank Account Day, Invest Safely Day, Carry Life Insurance Day, Keep a Budget Day, Pay Bills Promptly Day, Own Your Home Day, and Share With Others Day.
Gosh, I'm feeling a little randy again...
The slogan for Thrift Week was "For Success and Happiness," recognizing that the word "thrift" has its roots in the phrase "to thrive." Yeah, that's right; "thrift" is a positive characteristic, a true American virtue. Or, at least it used to be.
By the 1950's, thrift was already starting to lose the popular appeal it enjoyed during the first half of the century. Memories of the Great Depression faded and consumerism promised perpetual prosperity, provided, that is, that we could continue to consume more and more all of the time. By the 1960's, thrift was actually taking on a negative connotation; thrift became associated with hoarding and miserly, greedy behavior. By 1966, National Thrift Week lost its organizational backers and was abandoned.
Spearheaded by the Institute for American Values with funding from the John Templeton Foundation, the goals of the campaign are innovative and far ranging, from public education, to matching savings accounts for low income adults, to a proposal whereby lottery vendors would sell "savings tickets" to encourage people to save instead of gamble.
I hope you'll join me in supporting this movement to make thrift cool once again, and help to ensure that the perspective of the environmental community is represented in this movement to promote thrift, as the green aspects of thrift are currently understated at best. After all, any Green Cheapskate knows that for most Americans conservation starts with the simple act of consuming less.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.