Sustainable gifts and bliss?

Christmas is all around!

While this hopefully means sharing warm-hearted times with the family and fresh resolutions for the coming new year, even if you are not a religious person, Christmas is also the most hectic shopping time of the year. It is fun to find the perfect gift for the people you love, and make them “happy” but to what extent is this tradition becoming exceedingly materialistic?

How to promote sustainable consumption in this specific context (and of course in general)? Trying to reflect on my own consumption drivers, I explored some articles on sustainable consumption…

Geels et al. (2015) analyze different perspectives of sustainable consumption. In a nutshell they refer to: 1. Sustained consumption of ‘greener’ more eco-efficient products, where there is no significant behavioural change, just trusting market mechanisms and technology. 2. Radically criticizing materialism and advocating for the abolishment of consumerism and 3. a mix of both, which they call the “reconfiguration position”. I believe extreme changes are not an option, at least not yet, and agree with the third option that proposes a more transitional approach of changes in socio-technical systems and in daily life practices.

On a profounder level of reflection, it is somewhat of a concern that shopping provides a short-term dose of satisfaction and happiness (apologies for the generalizations…) There are various articles that analyze this issue and question the paradigm of the market economy constructing a happier society, as discussed in the article A Future of “Happiness”: Can Markets Be Co-evolved? (Aslanbay and Varnali, 2014).

My personal take on this is that consumption is filling an empty space left by the underlying problem of our disconnection from each other as social beings, and from a more spiritual life, following an increased sense of individualism and self-centeredness that redefines happiness as something that can be obtained in material wealth.

While these ideas open the floor for a more philosophical debate, I believe it is relevant to at least mention them.

To end in a more “seasonal” note, I explored some online sustainable gift options. I encountered a useful and innovative gift guide from the Tree Hugger- driving sustainability mainstream blog, that offers great gift ideas: from green toys for children, homemade gifts, giving experiences instead of things, gifts that also give to wildlife, etc. Check it out!

And lastly, I meant to share this innovative gift experience:

Micaela 001.jpg

I just received a gift certificate for a tree which has been planted in the Amazon rainforest. This is one of the campaign initiatives from the Peruvian NGO, Conservamos por Naturaleza that joins efforts for a unique purpose: reforest native species and help people and communities that care for nature in different locations in Peru. Amazing!

Merry Christmas & much positive energy for 2016!

 

 

Bibliography:

Aslanbay, Yonca and Kaan Varnali (2014) ‘A Future of “Happiness”: Can Markets Be Co-evolved?’ Society  Vol 51 (6): pp. 665-669.

Geels, F.W., et al. (2015). A critical appraisal of Sustainable Consumption and Production research: The reformist, revolutionary and reconfiguration positions. Global Environmental Change Vol. 34,, Pages 1-12.

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