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

  1. I jumped off the tread mill! Not to say that I don’t consume but I do it a whole lot less! And where I live, in the country in Chile, I am much less exposed to advertising which is very apparent around the holidays. And I am loving the simpler less stressful lifestyle.


  2. I seen this Story of Stuff video back when my daughter was in middle school or in the latter grades of elementary school. As someone that lives simply and feels quite abundant, I totally loved the video A LOT!

    For me, Christmas was more of “Godmas” for me or “Lovemas”, both meaning “More God…More Love”. In my daughter’s teens, I taught that to my daughter and we celebrated Lovemas with nothing but homemade gifts made with our heart- with LOVE. It wasn’t inspired by this video, mind you, as I think I watched it at a different time period than when I started this with her.

    Instead, I was encouraged to do so as I was personally against consumerism, and I felt strongly against it. I for one was not going to allow anyone to feel deprived either. Instead, I encouraged both of us to have FUN making and giving gifts and feel ABUNDANT! Traditionally, this is how Italians did it in Italy, as I understand, while the focus of the holiday was on Love, Connection, God, as well as Giving with Hearts through Handmade Gifts.

    My daughter is now 21 and I still encourage gifts that are made for one another. This year I received a candle made of crayons! I love these one of a kind gifts and I loved the love letter that came with it, most of all! My quality time with her is really the most treasured gift, for me! 🙂 I made her a photo book with 2 decades of childhood memories we shared together, capturing each picture with a select memory I recall from the photo too, rather than just a date or name.

    I’ll blog about this soon and include pictures of our handmade gifts! 🙂


    1. I adore this idea. “Lovemas” -> handmade gifts made with love. Thank you for sharing with us, please share the blog once you’ve written it. I would be interested to check it out!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This takes off the pressure of materialism to conform to keep up with the Joneses to focus more on Christ. Thank you for realisation wisdom to concentrate on Jesus Christ. Thank you for following Have a blessed Christmas. God Bless


  4. Thanks for the follow and reading my blog.I had a cultural shock on my first Christmas in London in 1990.I was very disappointed that something big or wonderful didnt happen after all the fuss.25 years on I still dont have the grasp of it all lol


  5. What a wonderful post. I’m not a buyer of stuff, but I still like to give gifts. We tend to give one another things such as goats in Tanzania or beehives in Malawi through OxFam (I’ve even given those as wedding presents for people who ‘have everything’, movie tickets, homemade food, secondhand books and all sorts of other useful things. And thanks for the follow on my travel blog. It’s appreciated as much as a present. 🙂 Happy Holidays.


  6. I liked reddish-purple flowers. They “resonated” to my taste using your very nice word. There are so many hidden messages in the image of a flower, thus the saying, “say it with flowers”.

    Have a great day, it’s all we’ve got in this roller-coaster ride we call Life.




  7. Hi Laura, what a great post! I’m a semi-minimalist of sorts and don’t really enjoy consuming the “stuffs” although this time of year sure makes it difficult. Your piece was a great reminder and push to keep plugging away at my goal and commitment to less.


  8. What an awesome post. Such a refreshing change.
    My husband is the oldest of 6 kids, so rather than buying tonnes of stuff they do “diy secret santa” – this year i made some treats in jars for his sister, and hes making a backyard jenga set for his little brother.
    We also run a tight ship with our budget (we use YNAB as our budgeting program) so we are wary of how much we are spending. Ill often pick things up over the duration of the year when i see them as well instead of getting caught up in the christmas rush. Much less likely to make impulse buys that way!!


  9. So these things I do think about a lot. In my family we decided to give to charity, we have also had that when we are many that we each buy only for one person and so we receive a gift each.

    I will also post about sustainability for this season in my blog. Let me know what you think!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Laura, great minds think alike aye? Thank you for the follow. My home on a narrowboat on the canals and rivers of UK has meant downsizing and de-cluttering to the max. Having lived for many years in NZ, where consumerism is not so apparent, I find it astounding how much ‘stuff’ is in the shops here in England how pressured people are to keep on buying despite needing only a fraction of it.

    Lovely to meet a kindred spirit 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thank you Laura! ThanksLiving is my antidote to consumerism! When I flow in gratitude with the abundance of what I already have, I am way more satisfied and less likely to feel the need to shop! When I do shop, it is more often at 2nd hand stores ~ where the ‘throw-aways’ of consumerism also run in ample abundance … I often feel I am giving ‘things’ the home they always wanted!


  12. I am marking this to watch later! Thank you for sharing – such an important thing to remember this time of year. My favorite waste-reduction is to wrap presents in inside-out paper shopping bags and scraps of scrapbooking paper from other projects. Wrapped with a little baker’s twine and things that were destined for the recycle bin anyways get another life before they go there! My mother in law also has reusable gift bags made from fabric, very clever and looks really nice under the tree. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. We are asked, pushed, badgered to consume as much as possible so the whole economic system won’t crash… there’s something rather pervers in that view of the world, I think…

    We should create a virtual button in our brains… when you look at stuff, it should sound an alarm so you ask yourself if you really need it… 😉 Sometimes it may be hard to ward off the whole world wanting you to buy, buy, buy… but it helps 😉

    Thanks for your visit en the follow, by the way!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I try to stay out of the stores from Thanksgiving to Christmas. And I throw the ads in the Sunday paper away without looking. I may miss some “bargains” but shopping early helps me spend less and not be tempted by all the commercials we see during the holiday season.


      1. Unfortunately, Facebook has reconnected me with the many Joneses I left behind, and I see them in their huge, monster, way-too-big-for-two-people homes, and I just cringe. The car that gets 5 gallons per mile……. On and on.


  15. Laura, thank you for introducing me to the I, for one, am trying to change my attitude toward consumerism and be more mindful of how I spend and what I spend on. I will think of this post as I shop more mindfully during this holiday season.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. First, off, I absolutely love this post. I’ve been wanting to write one similar but yours is so great I’m just going to share it with everyone instead 🙂 hopefully it’ll bring more people to your blog too!

    Random note: I saw your instagram. I have a min pin and a chihuahua and seeing your mix just made my heart melt!

    Liked by 1 person

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