Reduce and Reimagine This Holiday Season

Reduce and Reimagine This Holiday Season

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, and now we have the full month of December, which means gift planning, purchasing and accumulating of materialistic items. These holidays put your bank account and the economy of natural systems that support all life firmly in the red. Also, we are currently using the resources of one-and-a-half … Read more


Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, and now we have the full month of December, which means gift planning, purchasing and accumulating of materialistic items. These holidays put your bank account and the economy of natural systems that support all life firmly in the red. Also, we are currently using the resources of one-and-a-half planets on our one and only planet, Earth. Wow.

According to Patagonia, environmental bankruptcy, as well with corporate bankruptcy, can happen very slowly, then all of a sudden. This is what we face as consumers unless we slow down and try to reverse the damage. We’re running short on fresh water and raw materials, all of our planet’s natural systems and resources that support business and life.

There is much to be done and plenty for us all to do. Don’t buy what you don’t need this holiday season. Think twice before you buy anything. Remember to reduce, repair, reuse and recycle by supporting companies that are sustainable and making a positive impact. You can also fix old clothes instead of getting new things (it adds character anyways) or find a new home for things you don’t use anymore and see if any of your belongings can be recycled. The bottom line is that you should try to not buy what you don’t need, pledge to fix what’s broken, sell or pass things on and pledge to keep your stuff out of the landfill and incinerator.

More importantly, let’s reduce and reimagine a world where we take only what nature can replace.

“Christmas should be something to enjoy rather than endure,” writes author and activist Bill McKibben. “Instead of an island of bustle, it should be an island of peace amid a busy life. We want so much more out of Christmas: more music, more companionship, more contemplation, more time outdoors, more love.” In Hundred Dollar Holiday, McKibben, a church-going Christian, describes what it’s like to set a $100 limit on holiday spending – gifts, decorations, even the holiday feast. Some of us might find that level of simplicity a challenge, at least to start, but surveys bear out that those are the things people want most.

Time – especially time with friends – is one of the most valuable gifts we can give. How you choose to take back the holidays is up to you – that’s what it’s all about, creating and nurturing your own traditions. As with any gift, it’s the thought that counts. So this year, think hard about what really matters to you and your family and put that at the top of your holiday gift list.

As for me, I plan to spend time at home with my family who I haven’t been able to see for an extended period of time in so long, after being in Spain, then coming to Mount right away. I plan to simplify as well, and even though I already have some new clothes on the Christmas list and maybe a new camera, I believe my mindset and mentality is there. Most the clothes are from companies that support a good cause anyway!

How do you plan to reimagine your holidays this year?

(Thanks to Patagonia for some of the insight on this post)

Patagonia #Becauseilove Campaign

Patagonia #Becauseilove Campaign

Throughout college I have been very fond of the company Patagonia not only because it has amazing products, but I greatly admire its business model. It established the The Footprint Chronicles® which examines Patagonia’s life and habits as a company. The goal is to use transparency about its supply chain to help reduce its adverse social and environmental impacts – and … Read more


Throughout college I have been very fond of the company Patagonia not only because it has amazing products, but I greatly admire its business model. It established the The Footprint Chronicles® which examines Patagonia’s life and habits as a company. The goal is to use transparency about its supply chain to help reduce its adverse social and environmental impacts – and on an industrial scale. Patagonia has been in business long enough to know that when we can reduce or eliminate a harm, other businesses will be eager to follow suit. It believes that a triple bottom line incorporating people/planet/profits will ultimately make the company most successful. It doesn’t necessarily focus on just improving the world we live in, but it’s a better business option, more efficient and cost effective. Patagonia also has great books by founder Yvon Chouinard that I anticipate reading. Grab a copy of Let My People Go Surfing and/or The Responsible Company if you can. Also, if you want to read more about triple bottom line business, read this post about how Corporate Sustainability is Redefining the Future of Business.

Patagonia has extended its business model to an extent that is unimaginable. Last Black Friday the company spearheaded a Don’t Buy Campaign on one of its most popular jackets. Because it wanted to be in business for a good long time — and leave a world inhabitable for our kids — it wanted to do the opposite of every other business today. Patagonia asked consumers to buy less and to reflect before you spend a dime on this jacket or anything else. In the end, from a business perspective, I am almost certain the marketing campaign did exactly what the company wanted it to do, drove sales. (Note: Making the R2 jacket requires “135 liters of water, enough to meet the daily needs (three glasses a day) of 45 people. Its journey from its origin as 60% recycled polyester to our Reno warehouse generated nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, 24 times the weight of the finished product.”)

Another great campaign that is going on around this time of year and centered around the #Election2012 is Vote the Environment. Regardless of where you stand politically, this should be a pressing or at the least interesting issue to be handled by the presidential candidates. How will we reduce our deficit, while remaining energy independent and utilizing future technologies? Education, jobs, renewable energies, and much more have a lot to do with this.

From Patagonia’s website, Jack Johnson’s essay explains that, “Not only are we a product of our environment, we are an integral part of it. This statement seems obvious enough, but in our modern culture human beings often feel separate from nature. We see this when we vote: the environment has become only the 10th most important issue on a list after war, healthcare, education and other concerns. As the foundation for all of life and all human endeavors, the environment should be our first and most important consideration…When you vote to improve water and air quality, you are voting to improve human health. When you vote to provide incentives to use renewable energy, you are helping to create jobs and energy independence, in turn making an investment in peace.”

I am very grateful to have some Vote the Environment materials that I will be giving to the Sustainable Management Advisory Committee, but please let me know if you would like postcards or stickers! Tweet @zmsuhar with the hashtag #becauseilove if you want any or shoot me an email!

To follow the campaign even further, Patagonia has gained a lead on social media and on its website. Hashtags are trending, and Facebook posts are consumed with the “Vote the Environment” logos. You can even tweet, register to vote, get benefit tracks, gear and more right on Patagonia’s website (http://www.patagonia.com/us/vote-the-environment/)! Below you can find even more ways to interact…and I look forward to seeing some tweets about Patagonia and #becauseilove.

  • Twitter: Tweet the “#becauseilove” hashtag to share your favorite place, environmental cause or tag a photo to the tweet. Tweets with this tag will be shown on our web site, the Wilco and HeadCount websites and projected on stage at Wilco concerts this summer.
  • Get the Wilco Benefit Track: Download a live, exclusive version of Wilco’s “Whole Love,” the title track from the band’s latest Grammy-nominated album. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of the song benefit HeadCount.
  • Watch/Share the Video: What kind of world do you want to live in? Created by Patagonia and Free Range studio.
  • Register to Vote: Register to vote online at HeadCount.org or visit the HeadCount booth at Wilco tour sites this summer.
  • Know the Voting Records of Your Representatives: Check out League of Conservation Voters to know the environmental scorecard of the candidates.
  • Get a Benefit T-Shirt: Purchase a Wilco or Patagonia Vote the Environment t-shirt and Patagonia will donate $5 from the sale of each t-shirt to HeadCount.

I am curious to hear, excluding political opinions, what are the things “you love” in regards to Patagonia’s campaign? Also, what are your thoughts on its business model?

A Conscious Holiday Season – 5 Tips for Being a Sensible Gifter

A Conscious Holiday Season – 5 Tips for Being a Sensible Gifter

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Thanksgiving time has surpassed and some might say it’s now time to spread Christmas cheer, singing loud for all to hear. My final few weeks of the semester are definitely going to be daunted and seem endless, but the reward of going home over winter break will be second to none. The reason I anticipate Christmas break so much is because it is really the only time of year I get to go home and spend a generous amount of time with my family! Also, not to mention I leave for Spain in just about a month!

Come this holiday season, I am sure there are going to be tremendous acts of kindness and irreplaceable gifts. One thing to keep in mind is to be extra kind to our planet, and be sure to shop with a conscious. I recently read an article on Grist, and it said that, “in general, we need to be sensible gifters, steering clear of buying unnecessary, useless stuff. Give experiences, not things. Or give wanted things. Or make things for people, if they’re open to it.” I think that it is very important to keep these points in mind, and have the needs champion the gifts you want. To help, I listed some tips for helping to be more conscious this Holiday season.

Do More with Less
Instead of buying a brand new article of clothing, buy a used one that is in just as good condition. The company Patagonia is actually encouraging its customers to stop buying their products, part of its Common Threads Initiative. The company believes that reducing, repairing, reusing and recycling its clothes can help contribute to a better environment, thus lowering its carbon footprint. This is a part of an initiative where that together we can reimagine a world where we take only what nature can replace. Part of this program was for Patagonia to open up its own Ebay store, where Patagonia wearers can find used clothing for reuse.

Shop Online
Online shopping is generally a greener way to shop because trucks can deliver goods efficiently, and it takes less energy to run a warehouse for goods than a whole mall!

Make Your Own Wrapping Paper
Most wrapping paper you find in stores is not recyclable and ends up in landfills. This is an opportunity to get creative, use old magazines, newspapers, comics or old posters to wrap gifts! According to the Sierra Club, if every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

Give a Gift that Tells a Story
The Sierra Club allows you to “sponsor a wild place” and share the country’s most special wild places and national parks with friends and loved ones. Sponsorships start at $20 and come with a range of special gifts, like a photo, plush animal, certificate of sponsorship or a backpack. Also, you could give the gift of an annual pass to a National Park, a place where you can appreciate the outdoors.

Use Holiday LED’s
Instead of using ordinary Christmas lights, purchase some LED lights that use 90% less energy than conventional holiday lights. This could save you up to $50 on your energy bills during the holiday season as well … just saying.

I hope these tips help for this coming holiday season. One of Raider Relief’s past projects was H20 where we raised money during the holiday season to build wells supporting clean drinking water. Americans spends 450 billion dollars on holiday gifts each year, and it would only take 10 billion dollars of that money to solve the world’s water problems. When you think about it, there are many little gifts that are used just as stocking stuffers. I challenge you this Christmas to think about only a few gifts of what you really need, not just desperately want. Also, try to focus on some of the tips I listed, it might make a gift you give have a more personal touch, feel more intimate and make a positive impact on the world. Everyone loves a homemade gift or one that tells a story anyways!