Resolve to be less “Consumed” in 2009

December 11th, 2008
The holidays bring out the consumer in us even as we try to scale back. In addition to the waste we personally produce, there is a tremendous taxation of our earth in the farming, mining, manufacturing, transportation and sale of most every item we purchase and use.           

Despite my rantings about sustainability, I’ve discovered I have a long, long way to go even though I’ve made much progress. One of the best websites to find a good overall look at your personal & family sustainability footprint is Consumer Consequences . After you input your information you have the ability to compare yourself with others in different categories: house, energy, transportation, food, etc. It helped me identify which areas I should make more efforts in the coming year.

I’ve been reading online the NPR special report “Consumed” that was broadcast November 2007 and highly recommend checking it out:

Its goal is to answer the question, “Is the consumer economy sustainable?” in a serious way. They tackle the question in a comprehensive manner, with a lot of breadth but, if you don’t want to be overwhelmed, just choose one or two that most interest you.

A partial list of the featured topics: ecological footprint, landfills and the waste disposal sector, consumer debt, air pollution, freegans, marketing, junk mail, energy independence, the effect of consumer culture on mental and emotional well-being, carbon tax, food miles, fashion obsolescence, the green economy, e-waste, clean tech, globalization, Bhutan’s happiness index.

Interesting things to ponder as we consider resolutions for 2009.

Sustainable Gift Wrapping

December 12th, 2006

Many of you may be doing giftless holidays, but if not, here are many ideas for how to keep the gift-wrapping waste free and fun.

My friend, Tamara, shares some thoughtful traditions:

“Years ago when the girls were younger and their gifts were often odd-sized and bulky, rather than buying those giant plastic draw string bags, I bought some Christmas fabric at the end of the season to make my own.  I made several in a variety of sizes that can be used year after year.  They are easy to store and come in handy.

The second thing that I did was use the nesting decorated boxes that Costco usually carries at Christmas time (although I didn’t see them this year). I bought a set for each child in a different pattern, plus an additional one for any visiting child.  Each Christmas Eve, we un-nest the boxes and set them piled high near each one’s stocking.  Christmas morning, they still have the thrill of the surprise (Including which of the twelve boxes will be filled with a gift or a clue as to where to find a gift) and there is far less waste and the boxes are reused each year.  When they were little it certainly made “Santa’s” job a lot easier too!  Since each girl has a pattern that is hers, and they both still love setting up their respective stacks each year. It has become a cherished tradition along with Advent devotions.

Another way to add to the fun especially when the number of gifts is singular or fewer is to have the boxes passed to one another or the clues for the scavenger hunt to be shared.  Hope these thoughts spur someone else to think of a new way to adapt these to suit another generation.”

My sisters have been wrapping creatively for years and I save those wrappings to delight another person. (That’s my mom opening a gift wrapped in re-used materials.) After the holidays, consider designating a place where you can stash potential wrapping materials for the next time you are giving a gift of any sort.  This would be a good place to keep those packing peanuts for subsequent mailings.