"Our whole retail model over the last 50 years has focused on keeping the industrial machine churning out items," said Ruben, who until 2007 had an up-close view as the head of sustainability at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the king of mass-produced goods. "But if my friend already has shinguards that he's not using, I don't need to buy them for myself."
...Instead of trying to shrink a product's environmental footprint from the production side by making it with less material, advocates — especially clothing and shoe companies — are trying to extend its usefulness on the consumer end.
Retailers such as Hello Rewind are selling goods and products reworked from discarded scraps. Textile makers are experimenting with longer-lasting fabrics. Some businesses are asking shoppers to scale back their buying.
"It fits perfectly with the new movement toward sustainability in the fashion industry," said British designer Orsola de Castro, whose From Somewhere brand is considered an eco-apparel pioneer. "Hyper production and the sheer availability of cheap clothing has made us forget the value of maintaining and repurposing clothes and textiles."
Companies like Yerdle advocate for collective consumerism or a sharing economy, as reported in the Los Angeles Times. Yerdle allows people to offer goods they no longer use to friends, while other companies are focusing on extending the useful lifetime of goods or make them from scrap materials.
Literati.org is on a mission to eradicate litter by crowdsourcing trash pickup, archiving the results in its Digital Landfill, and extracting data to prevent the original littering. As described in the profile in the San Francisco Chronicle, the site is already having a big impact: "The Digital Landfill, now home to more than 12,500 pieces of trash, is crowdsourced cleanup, and because the images are geo-tagged, Kirschner has been able to build a map that shows where each piece of trash was found. This kind of data could not only help raise litter awareness in urban areas but also alert the companies whose products often end up on the ground."
"I feel we have become so desensitized to our surroundings," Kirschner said. "People walk over broken glass or a coffee cup or a potato chip bag and just keep going. I've reached a point where I'm no longer OK with that."
The Ignatian Spirituality blog dotMagis offers five tips for finding God in all things: micro-awareness, journal, do something the "old-fashioned way," listen, and say "God is here."
Stephen Mattson confesses on Sojourners to being a "Hashtag Christian," one who projects an image of being an engaged Christian through social network sites, but doesn't follow through in real life:
Religious Views: Christian — but not in practice.
Laura Miller writes about how God led her to create a movement of 2,000 agents performing anonymous acts of kindness across nine countries. She reports on "missions" at the Secret Agent L blog.
And did I see any of this coming? Not at all. But it has become so very clear to me that this is my calling.
Postconsumers.com offers articles and other resources for living simpler, more satisfied lives. They are also promoting their new book, Get Satisfied.
Postconsumers is an educational company helping to move society beyond addictive consumerism. We are consuming mindfully with an eye toward the satisfaction of enough. In other words, we advocate mindful consumption based on every person’s core values, rather than an endless quest for stuff driven by society. It’s up to each person to decide what’s right for him or her at any particular time. Whether postconsumers choose to be satisfied with a little or a lot, they are all wealthy in their contentment.
BoingBoing.net passes on an article: "Writing in The Atlantic, Amy Schiller documents how Mattel has spent the past 15 years transforming the expensive, highly detailed American Girl dolls from a source of radical inspiration that signposted moments in the history of the struggles for justice and equality in the US, into posh upper-middle-class girls who raise money for bake sales. As Lenore Skenazy points out, the original American Girls were children who had wild adventures without adult oversight; the new crop are helicopter-parented and sheltered, and their idea of high adventure is a closely supervised day in the snow."
... the original dolls confronted some of the most heated issues of their respective times. In the book A Lesson for Samantha, she wins an essay contest at her elite academy with a pro-manufacturing message, but after conversations with Nellie, her best friend from a destitute background who has younger siblings working in brutal factory jobs, Samantha reverses course and ends us giving a speech against child labor in factories at the award ceremony. Given the class divide, Samantha's speech presumably takes place in front of the very industrial barons responsible for those factory conditions. The book is a bravura effort at teaching young girls about class privilege, speaking truth to power, and engaging with controversial social policy, all based on empathetic encounters with people whose life experiences differ from her own.
A year's waste produced by Johnson's family.
Bea Johnson's new book, Zero Waste Home, tells how her family of four moved toward living more simply and sustainably, ultimately reducing their annual waste to what would fit in a quart-sized jar. They use a "five R's" system:
In the San Francisco Chronicle, she says after some experimentation to find the right balance, the shift felt right, became natural, and saved them a lot of money.
"We wanted to live the American Dream: buy a big house, drive a big car," she recalls. "We rode that wave for a while, but having stuff didn't make us happier."
The Greater Good Science Center reports on psychology studies concluding that those who exercise abstinence are happier than those who binge, backing up the wisdom of Lenten practices and Sabbath limits.
"All of this research points to a paradox of happiness: It’s not tied to abundance but to recognizing and appreciating what we do have. Once we meet our basic needs, our lives become more satisfying if we can savor and be grateful for the good that’s already around us, before we strive for more."
Relentless consumption and desire for more makes for unhappy people, while moderation and occasional limits have the opposite effect.
Indeed, so much of our everyday behavior is driven by the misconception that more is better. We celebrate our most important holidays by cooking twice as much food as we need, then scarfing it down. We work hard to get a promotion—then after getting it, start thinking about how to get the next one. We stay up all night tearing through “House of Cards” or the latest season of “Mad Men.”
VentureBeat writes about the choice for software developers between lucrative companies that are just out to make a buck and new trendsetters "characterized by morality, creativity, craftsmanship, and purposed problem solving." Other employees, investors, reporters, educators, and consumers can also influence these choices.
Oftquoted founder Jeff Hammerbacher put it this way: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks.”
But there are a growing number joining a "maker" culture that is focused on making a difference:
We face, as a society, incredible challenges in the coming decades: balancing social justices like healthcare with a disappearing middle class to pay for it; competing in a global market; generating better energy solutions; ensuring clean water access for large populations; solving health issues that shorten life; moving our planet towards a more sustainable environment; creating organizations and systems of management more in harmony with the human spirit; and many more.