Citizen Journalism

Why an Environmentalist is Living Below the Poverty Line for 5 Days

Wow! It has been awhile since I have written for my blog. Since my last post in December, I started a new job and have been getting settled into my new digs. Based in Union Square in Manhattan, I now work for a global nonprofit called The Hunger Project. The Hunger Project works to empower women and men to end their own hunger in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Our mission is to end hunger and poverty by pioneering sustainable, grassroots, women-centered strategies and advocating for their widespread adoption in countries throughout the world.

Since accepting my new position, a lot of folks have asked me why I left my work in environmentalism. I couldn’t disagree more with the premise of this question. I believe that everything is connected and that — in order to most effectively and sustainably save the environment and foster environmental awareness among all people on the planet — we must first ensure that no person on the globe is living in conditions of hunger and poverty. We must work tirelessly to empower women and promote gender equality, and healthy nutrition for children around the world, and hold our governments accountable.

I have recently started reading Howard G. Buffett’s novel called 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World. In his book, Mr. Buffett chronicles his journey through life, where he began as an endangered species and nature photographer and became a farmer and started his career working to improve the lives of farmers around the world.

As I read through the pages of this book, one line has stuck out in my mind: “no one will starve to save a tree.”

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

At work, with this thought in mind, I began to think about The Hunger Project’s recent partnership with the Global Poverty Project on a campaign called Live Below the Line. After taking a depth breath and reminding myself of that line in the book, I decided to join the Live Below the Line challenge.

I am standing with thousands of people around the world who are taking the Live Below the Line challenge to raise funds and awareness for the 1.2 billion people in our world who live in extreme poverty.

From April 28-May 2, join me in spending $1.50 a day on food and beverage for 5 days to change the way people think about extreme poverty – all while supporting The Hunger Project’s work in villages worldwide.

I’m looking forward to joining my team at The Hunger Project in experiencing what its like to live below the poverty line and spending only $1.50 a day on food/drink for 5 days. I stand in full partnership with people living in hunger and poverty throughout the world and I hope this campaign sheds light on the conditions they face. I share The Hunger Project’s vision of a world where every woman, man and child leads a healthy, fulfilling life of self-reliance and dignity. – See more at:

I want to experience what it is like to live in poverty and the choices (or lack there of) my fellow human beings on the other side of the globe (and right here in New York City) make every day.

I recycle, even separate my bottles and cans from paper and cardboard. I don’t drink bottled water. I take public transportation to work. I bring my canvas bags to the grocery store. I try not to consume too much. These small actions pale in comparison to the reduction my carbon footprint will have as I try to eat and drink on $1.50 a day for 5 days. My fellow environmentalists, I encourage you to Live Below the Line with me and take a hard look at all that you consume in 5 days.

In 40 Chances, Howard G. Buffett explains how all farmers can expect to have about 40 growing seasons, giving them just 40 chances to improve on every harvest. He applies this principle to life in general. If you had the opportunity or the chance to change the world and be a part of the Live Below the Line dialogue, to see yourself as a member of the planet as a whole, would you take it?

I encourage you to take this challenge with me. Live Below the Line for 5 days to learn more about the lives of other human beings on the planet, but also to learn more about yourself and the life you lead.

How can you get involved?

2 replies on “Why an Environmentalist is Living Below the Poverty Line for 5 Days”

If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend “The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture” by Wendell Berry. Not so much about global hunger, but on how unsustainable, industrialized agriculture in America is a threat to so many things: the concept of “home,” spirituality, and the environment our connection to the earth. Responsible and sustainable agriculture, preservation of the environment, and fighting hunger are all interconnected.


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