Since it is Easter weekend and today is Earth Day, I thought this would be an opportune time to talk about consumerism and consumption. Dun dun dunnnn.
A big part of "going green" is paying attention to how much I consume and reducing it. This includes power, fuel, waste, and "things" too. In 2006 it was reported that Americans spend an average $1.9 billion on Easter candy every year (and I am sure we are comparable to that in Canada too). I can only imagine that it has gone up since then. In the long run, I really don't think that all that candy is what is going to make children and other loved ones happy. Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, has discovered that the best predictor of human happiness is human relationship. I interpret this to mean that the better relationship we have and the more time we spend with friends and family, the happier we are. His research has also shown that experiences make us happier than stuff. Probably because experiences are often shared with others, while things usually aren't. I 'm not saying that there is anything wrong with buying presents or candy in particular at Easter time. I just think it's a good idea to pay more attention to how much is reasonable and necessary.
"According to a global survey, three out of four of the happiest people groups in the world are not rich consumers. Using a scale where 7 marks the maximum of happiness, Forbes magazine's richest Americans came in second (5.8), tied with the Pennsylvania Amish. Close behind them (5.7) were the Masai of East Africa, a tribe without electricity or running water who live in huts made of dung. Happiest of all - ahead of America's richest - were the Inuits of Greenland (5.9). All this research suggests that a climate of warm, cohesive community and its attendant values are more important than material comfort or other external factors in producing happiness."
Everything Must Change by Brian D McLaren
This year Brad and I plan to focus on experiences and relationships with the people around us, spending Easter with people at church and family gatherings with both sides of our family. (Of course this is a little easier for us since we have no children, but we hope to carry these values along when we do as well.) This will both help the planet by reducing unnecessary consumption and ensuing waste and, according to Dr Gilbert, also increase our own happiness. Oh, and in celebration of Earth Day we hope to see Disney Nature's African Cats (check out the trailer here). If you see it during opening week (April 22-28), Disney will make a donation in your honour to help Save the Savannah.