10 Ways to Reject Capitalism in Your Personal Life

People reading at the New York Public Library

Dana Neibert / Getty Images 

Take subversive action in small ways.

The Guardian recently asked readers to share thoughts on 'anti-capitalist' living and the little things they do on a daily basis to "buck the system." The resulting article features 24 actions that are a mix of curious, brilliant, and commonsensical. I'd like to share ten of my favorites below.

Keep in mind, these are not green living tips so much as behaviors designed to break out of a mold and challenge a system, which is why some might seem odd at first glance. Please share your own anti-capitalist living tips in the comments section below.

1. Make Your Own Clothes

Learn how to sew so that you can clothe yourself and your family, buying only natural fabrics and patterns. While there are still ethical and environmental issues with fabric dyeing, you bypass the slavery-like conditions of modern garment factories. If sewing your own is too much work, settle for owning fewer clothes and buying from tailors, seamstresses, and local designers.

2. Stop Using Soap

The most extreme version of this is to, quite literally, go without soap. It can be done, and your skin will thank you for it. The Guardian quotes an anonymous reader:

“I haven’t bought washing detergent, shampoo or conditioner since June. I wash my hair with soapnut liquid followed by apple cider vinegar... Essential oils are added to both the mixtures – this part is crucial, otherwise there would be an unpleasant smell. All my clothes washing is done with some soapnuts thrown in a muslin bag with added drops of eucalyptus oil.”

Alternatively, reduce the amount of soap you use. Shower fewer times per week and only wash "pits 'n bits", not your entire body. Be selective about the kind of soap you buy. Ditch plastic jugs of liquid soap and buy unpackaged bars and powdered natural detergents.

3. Don't Use Banks

As Lloyd wrote earlier this year, the big banks are still heavily invested in fossil fuels, with funding increasing 11 percent in 2017. You do not have to support this. Pull your money out of the bank and put it in a credit union. Grist explained:

"Most credit unions aren’t big enough to give a loan to an oil company... If you want to put your money somewhere where oil companies probably wouldn’t even think of borrowing it, go with a local credit union. Credit unions mostly deal in friendlier, local investments."

4. Stop Going To The Gym

This isn't an excuse to quit exercise altogether, but rather a way to save money, force yourself outside, and get away from the "extremely loud pop music [and] forever showing off" in a gym setting that can make one's workouts about so much more than just getting healthy.

portrait of an active senior man doing exercise in the city of Berlin
Silke Woweries / Getty Images 

5. Quit Social Media

Can we please have a round of applause for this? It's so simple, yet so incredibly difficult to do. Once off social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, however, you'll no longer feel lust or envy for other people's (artificially glamorized) lifestyles and belongings. You won't feel horrible about spending a quiet Saturday night at home because everyone else is posting videos of themselves partying. Better yet? You'll stop caring.

6. Use The Library

It's your space, a beautiful communal gathering place where anyone can come to learn, borrow, entertain children, escape weather or tedium, access resources, apply for jobs, or seek solitude. Libraries are a tremendous asset, but they need to be used by residents in order to receive the funding they deserve. So, commit to using your library instead of Amazon. Look up books you'd like to read online, then request them through your library's online order form. You'll be notified when it's in – just like online shopping, except you don't have to pay and it won't clutter up your house once you're finished.

7. Share Your Food

This suggestion can be interpreted in different ways. Share food with friends by cooking meals and inviting people into your home to eat. Share excess produce grown in your garden by setting up a stand on the street and handing it out for free or delivering to neighbors. Donate to local food banks, whether in the form of actual food donations or with cash (which is what the food banks prefer).

8. Stop Driving

Reject car-centric culture by refusing to participate. Sell your vehicle and buy an awesome bike instead, complete with all the accessories that will allow you to grocery shop and cart kids around easily. Sami recommends getting a basket. (You'll still spend a fraction of what you would on a car.)

9. Go to the Pub on Live-Music Night

I love this suggestion because it's beneficial on every level. Find great entertainment at little cost – just what you spend on drinks, which helps small privately-owned pubs to survive. Show support for hardworking musicians or join in with your own instrument, a wonderful reward for the hours spent practicing. In the words of one Guardian reader, Michael, this action fights capitalism by "negating the whole class divide of overhyped and overpaid celebrity performers versus paying audience."

jam session in Irish pub

Damián Bakarcic / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

10. Always Claim Compensation for Train Delays

One reader says he does this at every opportunity because it has "the dual effect of undermining [the privatized rail companies'] profitability while exacting a polite kind of revenge for their regular uselessness." I think too that, if enough people did this, it would motivate rail companies to fine-tune their service and minimize delays. Of course the UK train system is much better developed than North America's, so I'm not sure how well this would work on this side of the Atlantic. Still, an interesting thought.