Give the Gift of Conscious Consumerism!

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by Donna Mazzitelli

During the holiday season, mall parking lots fill to capacity and stores cram with people shopping, browsing and buying.

Consumption has risen sixfold since 1960, according to the World Bank. Taking the rising global population into account, this amounts to a tripling of consumption expenditures per person, leading to similar increases in the amount of resources used: a sixfold increase in metals extracted from the earth, an eightfold increase in oil consumption, and 14 times the natural gas consumption.

Worldwatch Institute’s State of the World 2010 reported that people find meaning and contentment in what they consume, but this cultural orientation has huge implications for society and the planet. For instance, the average U.S. citizen consumes more each day, in terms of mass, than he weighs. If everyone lived like this, the Earth could only sustain 1.4 billion people, rather than its current population of 6.77 billion! Worldwatch’s president, Christopher Flavin, described our worldwide situation as: “the consumer culture that has taken hold probably first in the U.S. and now in country after country over the past century… we can now talk about a global consumerist culture that has become a powerful force around the world.”

The book further emphasizes that consumerism is the root of our planet’s current environmental issues. We simply do not have enough resources on our planet to support what many in wealthy nations consider a normal — even required — level of material consumption on a planet with six plus billion people and growing. In fact, the word “resources” is a deceptive word for us to use when we talk about what the earth provides. It is one of the modern world’s many unexamined assumptions: the idea that the earth offers an unlimited supply of resources, all at our disposal.

Our current resource usage is increasing faster than our worldwide population. Even taking into consideration that the vast majority of the world’s population consumes far less, globally we are using natural resources and ecosystem services equal to 1.3 planets our size. From the Earth’s perspective, this way of life is not viable or sustainable. Even if we adopt sustainable technologies, the amount of energy and materials needed to replace our current worldwide fossil usage would expand our total ecological impact significantly. We would still need to reduce our resource consumption. Taking these facts into consideration, what can you do this holiday season to reduce your personal resource consumption? You don’t have to give up giving. There are many ways to give without significantly contributing to over-consumption. Here are a few ideas:

• Give a gift that doesn’t use many resources. Items such as tickets to the theatre, frequent flyer miles, an annual membership to a museum, or a donation to a charity in the name of the recipient all make great gifts that don’t require extra packaging or an abundance of resources to manufacture.

• Support local businesses and vendors who offer local products and services. Items such as locally-produced foods, locally-made crafts, or even locally-offered services, including hair styling, manicures, pedicures and massage, all make wonderful gifts and providd local businesses with more clients and patrons.

• Make homemade gifts. Food items such as candies, sweets, breads or preserves are great gifts. Bath and body care items, including scented bath salts, body butter or homemade lip balm, lets someone know she is special and deserves to be pampered. Hand-knitted or crocheted hats, scarves, gloves and sweaters make truly wonderful gifts that can be used for years to come.

• Give the gift of YOU! Donate your time. There are so many ways you can help, including babysitting or taking a home bound friend or family member out for a meal and a movie. Perform a chore for a neighbor, such as snow-shoveling after a big snow storm or weeding their garden in the springtime. Offer your talents for free, whether you’re a photographer, financial planner or piano teacher. You can even perform a much-dreaded chore for a month as a gift to a family member.

Let this holiday season be the perfect time to consciously choose a new way of giving. Give in a manner that expresses your love for the special people in your life and your care for our planet. Happy holidays!

Donna Mazzitelli, a writer and editor, shares her passion for creating a greener lifestyle whenever possible. Her blog, Bellisima Goddess, focuses on creating a bellissima — very beautiful — life. You can find Donna in Speaking Your Truth, Volumes I and II. Visit her website at www.bellisimaliving.com!

November/December 2011

Meet Up with Jack Canfield in Hog Heaven
by Linda M. Potter

Igniting the Next Phase in Consciousness:  Partnering with Matthew Fox
by Sally Petersen

Make Affirmations Work for You
by Ronald Alexander

N.O.T.E. to Self: What We Resist Persists
by Gary Dooley

Walking The Way: Lessons from the Road to Santiago
by Danny Long

Nutrition Know-How for Holiday Health
by Nicole Turner-Ravana

Give the Gift of Conscious Consumerism!
by Donna Mazzitelli

Global Girlfriend Empowers Women Around the World
by Phyllis Kennemer

Ho’oponopono: Love, Forgiveness and Inspiration
by Jan Waterman

A Dozen Christmas Roses
by Author Unknown

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: #1 Laughter
by Merrie Lynn Ross

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: #2 Happiness
by John Randolph Price

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: #3 Inspiration
by Jack Canfield

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: #4 Life
by don Miguel Ruiz

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: #5 Your Heart’s Song
by Barry Goldstein

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: #6 Radical Self Care
by Cynthia James

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: #7 Freedom
by Linda M. Potter

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: #8 Self Love
by Arielle Ford

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: #9 Self
by Katrina Pfannkuch

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: #10 Encouragement
by Mark Hoog

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: #11 Gratitude
by Ed & Deb Shapiro

The 12 Gifts of Christmas: #12 Peace
by Donna Visocky

Heeding Our Wakeup Call: An Interview with Michael Mirdad
by Tuula Fai

Go-Green Resolutions for the New Year!

The 10 Best Apps for a Healthy, Green Lifestyle
by Katrina Pfannkuch

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