Eat olive oil and watch football: alternative ways to help Greece

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Whatever your views on the Greek crisis, watching the gradual implosion of a country leaves many of us wishing there was something we could do to help. But unless you’re a billionaire, or ideally a multibillionaire, your power is limited. If you are determined to make some sort of difference, however, no matter how small, here are some suggestions.

Want to help Greece? Go there on holiday
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Buy Greek
In one sense, it isn’t complicated. Greeks need money right now, and may soon need euros especially (or even pounds), so it would help a lot if you bought Greek things. For instance, you might choose to get your cosmetics from companies such as Apivita, Fisika or Korres, drink Fix or Vergina beer (and snigger slightly while doing so), or get your olives and olive oil from producers including Threpsi, Abea, Gaea or direct from a small producer, such as those on greekoliveoildirect.com.

A bit of caveat emptor is needed too, however. Some Greek businesses may go bankrupt soon, and if you order something direct from a Greek company just before they do, you may never get what you paid for. It may therefore be safer to buy from a British importer – assuming they are still ordering things from Greece themselves. You might also want to boycott “Greek-style” yoghurt in favour of the real thing.

Tackle their smoking problem
It is tempting to wonder whether there is a self-destructive streak in the Greek national character, if you believe in national characters, since the world’s most famous bankrupt state is also one of the heaviest-smoking. More than 40% of Greek adults smoke, more than double the rate in the UK, with all the attendant costs for the Greek economy and healthcare system – not that many long-term unemployed Greeks have any healthcare now, not unless they can pay for it. This is complicated, however, – it is the seventh largest tobacco grower and sixth largest exporter in the world, an industry that employs thousands of people. Overseas smokers are therefore contributing valuable euros to the Greek economy, and will become still more valuable as a source of hard currency in the event of a Grexit. This in turn may drive up the domestic tobacco price, make smoking suddenly more expensive for Greeks, perhaps leading many to quit. Maybe the best course, therefore, is to buy mountains of cigarettes made with Greek tobacco (Philip Morris has a big plant there) – and burn them on a bonfire.

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