The Story of “Stuff” & Surviving the holidays without consumerism

This is the season when consumption skyrockets. The average American spends over $800 on seasonal gifts, even though a national survey (by Center for a new American Dream) indicates that over 70% of Americans would welcome less emphasis on gift giving and spending.

Need proof that people don’t need more “stuff”? The Environmental Protection Agency, estimates that from Thanksgiving to New Year’s household waste increases by more than 25%. That’s an additional million tons of unneeded gifts, packaging and shopping bags - a week! 

It’s very fitting, then, that I share one of my favorite visually appealing explanations of the issues surrounding consumerism – The Story of Stuff – which has now rightly turned into a movement. Check out the video above, and consider re-evaluating how and what you give this season.  Better yet, consider being more intentional with the way you interact with “stuff” all the time.

Convinced, but unsure how to get through the holiday season without offending others? Check out my post ‘Holiday Craziness…I think I’ll pass‘ for my favorite sustainable holiday suggestions – such as gifts, and decorations.

How do you currently handle the “stuff” in your life? What are some of the strategies you use to reduce consumerism? What could you do to further improve? Share your ideas below!

 

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Global Chorus: Daily meditations about hope and the planet

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Next year, I hope to start everyday with a bit of hope – with insights and perspectives to keep pushing towards solutions. To spend some time to let ideas marinate, to observe, to taste and feel the fullness of thought leaders perspectives on relevant issues about our world. I want to listen – really listen.  I want to go outside, touch the ground, experience the breeze, smell nature. I want to feel her within me, I want to hear her speak to me. I want to re-energize.

I am humbled to be part of project that will help others to do just that.

Global Chorus a groundbreaking collection of over 365 perspectives on our environmental future. As a global roundtable for our times, in the format of a daily reader, this book is a trove of insight, guidance, passion and wisdom that has poured in from all over the Earth. Its message is enormously inspiring, and ominous in its warnings. And yet, united in a thread of hope, its contents are capable of helping even the most faithless global citizen to believe that we have the capacity to bring about lasting positive change in our world. Places at this roundtable are occupied by writers, environmentalists, spiritual leaders, politicians, professors, doctors, athletes, business people, farmers, chefs, yogis, painters, actors, architects, musicians, TV personalities, humanitarians, adventurers, concerned youth, concerned senior citizens, civil servants, carpenters, bus drivers, activists, CEO’s, scientists, and essentially those who have something thoughtful and visionary to say about humanity’s place upon Earth. Compiled for your reading as a set of 365 pieces, Global Chorus presents to you a different person’s point of view for each day of your year.”

I had the true pleasure of being at the Ottawa book launch and signing this past week. It was incredible to meet the editor, Todd Maclean, who envisioned this book 5 years ago. It speaks to what the power of a dream, ongoing effort, and an indomitable spirit can accomplish.

Grab a copy of this #1 Amazon bestseller, and join David Suzuki, Paul Hawken, Bill McKibben, William McDonough, Michael Reynolds, Rick Fedrizzi, Will Potter, Maya Angelou, Elizabeth May, and Jane Goodall by adding your voice in this global chorus.

The contributors for the book, were asked the following questions – add your own perspective in the comments below: “Do you think that humanity can find a way past the current global environmental and social crises? Will we be able to create the conditions necessary for our own survival, as well as that of other species on the planet? What would these conditions look like? In summary, then, and in the plainest of terms, do we have hope, and can we do it?”

 

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Interface: Net-Works (making waste beautiful)

 

I had the honor of talking recently with Erin Meezan, the Vice President of Sustainability for Interface. Her passion for her work and the positive impact on the large breadth of people touched was truly inspiring.

Interface are leaders in the industry showing that fully integrated sustainability is not merely a theoretical idea, but can be tangibly accomplished and perpetuated within a business.  They transparently report on their ecological footprint, including progress in: Energy, Climate, Waste, and Transportation.

Looking for a way to reduce the environmental impact of nylon even further, they launched Net-Works.

“Net-Works enables local residents to collect discarded nets, which wreak havoc with the marine ecosystem, and sell them back into a global supply chain – giving those destructive, broken nets a second life as beautiful and long-lasting carpet tile. The product of an unlikely partnership, the Net-Works programme is proof that when business, conservation, and communities innovate together, we can create positive, sustainable change.”  

This initiative is not only lowering their impact, but also infusing local economies, while helping to clean up coastal environments. In the first 2 years, Net-Works has expanded to reach to 24 communities, with over 4,000 people benefiting from alternative income, and more than 35 metric tonnes of waste nets have been salvaged and turned into carpet tiles.

I can only begin to imagine how this world would change, if more companies looked for win-win solutions that not only positively impacted their bottom line – but also people and the world we live in.

Can you think of innovative win-win solutions you could apply to the work you are currently doing? Please share below!

 

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#LikeAGirl – Inspirational Women: a never ending list

I hope whatever you do, whatever you dream, you have the courage to do it #LikeAGirl:

  • Run a country #LikeAGirl – Angela Merkel (Germany), Pratibha Patil (India), Margret Thatcher (UK), Dilma Rousseff (Brazil), Indira Gandhi (India), Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Liberia), Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese (Ireland), Tarja Halonen and Mari Kiviniemi (Finland), Dalia Grybauskaite (Lithuania), Johanna Siguroardottir (Iceland), Jadranka Kosor (Croatia), Iveta Radicova (Slovakia), Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (Argentina), Laura Chinchilla Miranda (Costa Rica), Pearlette Louisy (St. Lucia), Kamla Persad-Bissessar (Trinidad and Tobago), Roza Otunbayeva (Kyrgyzstan), Benazir Bhutto (Pakistan), Sheikh Hasina (Bangladesh), Julia Gillard (Australia)
  • Win the game #LikeAGirl - Florence Griffith-Joyner (fastest woman of all time), Serena Williams (only tennis player to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time), Tracy Caulkins (set five world swimming records and 63 U.S. records), Bonnie Blair (5 olympic gold medals in speed skating). Mia Hamm (scored more goals in her career than any other player, male or female, from the U.S, and named FIFA player of the year twice), Ellen MacArthur (broke the non-stop solo sailing world record), Tanni Grey-Thompson  (outstanding paralympian), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (one of the best athletes of all time)
  • Lead a company #LikeAGirl - Indra Nooyi (CEO of PepsiCo, the second largest food and beverage business in the world), Mary Barra (CEO of General Motors), Margaret Cushing Whitman (CEO of  Hewlett-Packard)
  • Be brave #LikeAGirl - Malala Yousafzai (17 year old education activist in Pakistan), Emmeline Pankhurst(women’s right to vote, UK), Roza Parks (African american civil rights activist)
  • Explore the world #LikeAGirl - Amelia Earhart (aviation pioneer), Jane Goodall (world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees), Marie Curie (pioneering research on radioactivity, two-time Nobel Prize winner)
  • Save lives #LikeAGirl - Florence Nightingale (founder of modern nursing), Mother Teresa
  • Build an Empire #LikeAGirl - Oprah Winfrey (arguably one of the most influential people on earth).

 

The next time you use the saying ‘#LikeAGirl’, may it be an expression of strength and downright awesomeness! Help me to keep this list growing, by adding women who inspire you in the comments below.

 

 

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Musical Healing

 

These beats make my heart soar, to high notes that resonate within me like you.
Music is an escape, it’s your voice – it helps me sleep, smile, breathe again.

You are wrapped in the small folds of the crisp notes, and the hushed lulls.
You spill from within me, these sung words on moist lips.

I feel you breathe goosebumps along my neck, in the poignant silence.
Notes envelope me, your big arms, my protection…still.

 

 

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Sharing movement – Do more, own less.

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Sharing: a concept that is so heavily reinforced during childhood, and practically forgotten during adulthood. We replace this compassionate mentality so quickly with ego based consumerism, but perhaps our parents were onto something…

Sharing platforms are a growing trend towards owning less yet having the ability to do more. This movement allows you to access the same services at a lower cost, with less environmental impact (material, transport etc) and encourages a much needed shift from disposable products back to high quality.

There are so many amazing sharing platforms available, such as:

New sharing platforms are emerging all the time, such as clothing sharing, construction tool sharing, etc. Some are local initiatives, others are digitally based. I love this concept, not only for the benefits mentioned above, but also for the connection it allows within a community – for the network it builds.

Why not give it a shot? Post your sharing experiences and/or other sharing platforms you enjoy below!

 

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