Fast from consumption raises awareness of spending

by Peter KaspariStaff Writer

This year for Lent, several Simpson students are participating in a unique fast meant to raise awareness of how much money they spend.

In its second year, the Fast from Consumption was initially started as a project in a citizenship senior seminar class.

“The students were doing projects, and when we read about consumerism, we decided to see what it would be like to do this,” Kedron Bardwell, assistant professor of political science, said. “The focus was [thinking] ‘why don’t we get people to think more deliberately about what they spend their money on and maybe using it for more charitable purposes?’ “

The students who participated in last year’s event, and again this year, felt the experience helped them be more aware of their spending.

“I feel [the fast] is very constructive to me,” senior Ali Jepsen said. “It’s making me be more aware of my money.”

Senior Tracy Robson feels the same.

“I like to do the fast to prevent myself from being controlled or influenced in [the consumer] way,” Robson said. “Since it gets me away from those bad influences, it helps me learn a better, less consumer-driven way to live.”

This year, the fast is slightly different. The biggest change is the addition of a fast from technology.

“The idea is for people to reflect on how they spend their time, money and resources,” Bardwell said.

Also different this year is the number of participants, which Bardwell said is considerably less than last year. About 40-50 students were in last year’s fast, but this year there are only about 30 who have signed up.

“I was late on the ball in getting this set up, and I think the others were, too,” Bardwell said.

He believed one of the reasons for this is due to the fact that Easter is earlier this year, and therefore Lent is earlier as well.

Regardless, both Jepsen and Robson said they are participating once again in the fast.

“I realized last year how much I would buy and how difficult it was at first to give up those things,” Robson said. “This year, though, it’s been significantly easier because I think the experience last year really changed the way I live as a whole. “I just live my whole life as a fast from consumerism now.”

Although the fast helped them with their money problems, the participants admitted it was difficult to get used to.

“Just keeping away from the temptations [was difficult],” Jepsen said. “I would go out with friends and wonder if it’s something we really need[ed] to do.”

Robson felt the same way.

“The hardest part is when I see something that I’d really like, and I know I have the money to be able to get it, but to tell myself ‘no,’ and then to realize that I didn’t really need it in the first place,” Robson said.

For students still interested in participating, Bardwell said that it’s not too late.

“We welcome people to join the fast until Easter,” Bardwell said. “You don’t have to go the whole time. Any participation is good participation.”

Bardwell added that people who support saving the environment might be interested in participating.

“This should help them think more carefully about their resources,” Bardwell said.

He also said this fast can help people in numerous ways.

“It’s not simply for self-discipline,” Bardwell said. “This is to think about our role in a consumer society.”