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Posts Tagged ‘consumerism’

The Story of Bottled Water

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Do you really want to be buying your water in a bottle? Here’s what Annie Leonard found about the water bottling process.

Check out the Story of Stuff project for other stories - such as:

The Story of Stuff

The Story of Cap and Trade

Do good lives have to cost the earth?

Friday, March 19th, 2010

windOn the face of it, it would seem we must make impossible sacrifices if we want to do our bit for the environment and lead more sustainable, less damaging lives. This book shows that isn’t the case at all. It brings together household names who share a conviction that, on the contrary, living well needn’t cost the earth - and will tell you why and how.

Their collective vision, covering areas from architecture and politics to food and happiness, will completely reframe the way you think about climate change and what you’re willing to do about it. Far from the usual doom and gloom, many here argue that climate change presents a once-in-a-century opportunity to address a whole basket of problems with energy and imagination.

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

We’re all going on a summer holiday…

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Meredith Paterson

departures-boardScorching sand, ice-cream, cold waves, sizzling bbqs; these are the elements of the kiwi summer holiday. After a hard working year, we can’t wait to relax at the beach, holiday bach or our favourite camping spot. Some of us load up the caravan, strap the kayaks to the roof and head to the other side of the country. Others catch a cheap flight down to the South Island. Wherever we go, family, friends and relaxation are usually on the agenda.

We just LOVE our summer holidays! As a relatively isolated island nation overseas travel has also become important to many kiwis. In particular, the ‘Overseas experience’ (OE) has become a rite of passage for younger generations.  It is a way for us to experience the big wide world, meet new people and learn about other cultures.

But overseas travel isn’t just for young adventurers. Around the world, more and more people go on an overseas holiday every year. It is estimated that in 2010, tourists will take 1 billion trips abroad. However, not everyone gets to go on holiday and only a tiny percentage of the world’s population travels overseas. Most of these people come from rich, developed countries (the minority world).

Going on holiday puts us in a privileged minority, but we don’t even think much about it. After all, we deserve a break. We rarely consider the impact we have on people and places by being there.  But photographs and footprints are not the only remainders of our holidays. Our travels do have affects beyond ourselves.

Tourism and climate change

Climate change may well be the biggest threat the world will see. The impact of tourism and travel on this issue is coming to light. Air travel is recognised as the most polluting form of transport and accounts for 3-5% of carbon dioxide emissions released internationally per year. Sustainable Travel International calculates that even a relatively short flight, Auckland to Sydney, will release 2.06 tonnes of carbon dioxide for two people. Several strategies, including taxing airlines and getting airlines to buy ‘carbon credits’, have been suggested to reduce emissions.

wind-farmMany airlines are countering their pollution by offering carbon off-setting. Carbon off-sets seek to cancel out the carbon emissions from flights by donating money to environmentally focused organisations, who support renewable energy and reforestation projects. Air New Zealand offers customers the option to off-set their carbon emissions by purchasing Trust Power wind farm credits.

Critics argue that carbon off-setting is only prolonging climate change. “The only way to reduce emissions is not to create them,” argues Pamela Nowicka, author of The No-Nonsense Guide to Tourism. “We must use and develop non-harmful forms of transport”. Eco-tourism has become a popular guilt free alternative to mainstream travel. The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” In New Zealand guided walks around the Catlins and diving in the Poor Knights Islands are a couple of activities offered in the name of eco-tourism. Evidently, making your holiday environmentally friendly does not mean taking the fun out of it.

Is holidaying a human right?

st-clair-beach-1We take holidays for relaxation, pleasure, family time and new experiences. Some travel to ‘rediscover’ themselves or as religious pilgrimages. In minority world countries, like New Zealand, holidays are considered necessary for ‘the good life.’ But not everyone has the means to go on holiday.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights states in article 24 that “everyone has the right to rest and leisure… and periodic holidays with pay.” Article 13 also states that “everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and return to his country.” Unfortunately, these human rights along with others, are really only available to the minority of those who can afford it.

In developing countries (the majority world not only do most people miss out on the benefits of a holiday, but they often pay the price of other people’s holiday. Tourist developments can destroy natural environments, create waste and exhaust natural resources.  There have been many cases where the tourism industry undermines human rights. Prime beach front land has been snatched from locals who are forced to find new homes, locals working in hotels or resorts are commonly underpaid and forced labour has been used to make tourist areas presentable.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) believe that travel and tourism “can help raise living standards and alleviate poverty in undeveloped areas.” This is a mighty claim. We can’t assume money paid by tourists stays in the country and benefits the locals. Pamela Nowicka claims that “from 50 to 95 percent of money spent by a tourist will leave the country it was spent in.” This is known as ‘leakage.’ Nowicka cites Thailand as an example saying it is “estimated that 70 percent of all money spent by tourists ended up leaving Thailand via foreign-owned tour operators, airlines, hotels, imported drinks and food and so on.”

TAKE ACTION

But the WTTC are right. Travel and tourism can help fight against poverty. However, it is up to us to find out how our money can be used to best impact the local community and ensure our environmental damage is minimized.

Become an ethical tourist:

  • Fpoor_knights_island_1ind locally owned and run lodges, restaurants and activities whose profits stay in the   community.
  • Use the least damaging form of transport. It’s difficult to avoid flying if we want to go overseas. We can’t take a train under the Tasman Sea to visit our Aussie neighbours! But, we can take direct, longer flights, which are more fuel efficient. And we can use local transport, buses, trains and ferries when we are in country.
  • Next year, instead of loading up the caravan and crossing the Island to your regular beach, why not try something different? There are many cycle paths that allow you to explore a different side to the country. The Department of Conservation also offers well kept walk ways and informative signs throughout the country. A national park is never far away. Eco-tourism adventures are also widely advertised on the internet.

Being an ethical tourist does not have to mean spending more money. It just means doing your research, asking questions and caring about the impact of your holiday.

LEARN MORE

The No-nonsense Guide to Tourism Pamela Nowicka
The Ethical Travel Guide Polly Pattullo and Orely Minelli
(Both books available from Global Focus Aotearoa library)

www.ecotourism.org
www.sustainablestuff.co.uk
www.ecotourism.co.nz
www.maketravelfair.com
www.tourismconcern.org
www.responsibletourism.org.nz

another world is possible

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Published by - attac.org

This is a CD with 15 tracks from bands such as  Massive Attack, Moby, Manu Chao and the Asian Dub Foundation & Zebda. It also has introductions in 6 European languages, from people at the forefront of the discussion on Globalisation.

mall_photoIn English Noam Chomsky talks about the so-called boom of the 90’s, and Naomi Klein points out how uniform we can become when we buy into brands.

The introductions are not repeated in all languages so good luck with the ones you don’t know!

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

Material World - A Global Family Portrait

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

By Peter Menzel

material_photo11For the photos in this stunning book, photographers spent one week living with a “statistically average” family in each country, learning about their work, their attitudes toward their possessions, and their hopes for the future. Then a “big picture” shot of the family was taken outside the dwelling, surrounded by all their (many or few) material goods. Statistics and a brief history for each country are included as well as personal notes from the photographers about their experiences.

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!


Take it Personally

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

take_photo1Anita Roddick of The Body Shop fame has created a work of art with this book, putting images and phrases together, such as, fashion and victim which show us how we have lost perspective of the real world.

Roddick has always tried to conduct business in a personal way, but has found that the business world is dominated by the faceless, and relentless advance of globalisation. This is a world of secret, impersonal committees, who do not take their social responsibilities seriously. The focus is on profit. Without more openness and democracy, she says, the world will be unable to deal with the serious crisis brought on us by globalisation.

You can join our library and get books and DVDs out for Free!

Veja

Thursday, March 19th, 2009


www.veja.fr/

What do they do?

Make funky Fair Trade, environmentally friendly shoes!

How can I get involved?

Buy some! They are currently in stock at stores like Starfish and also on trademe.co.nz

The Story of Stuff - Introduction

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

For loads more information or to download the full movie check out:www.storyofstuff.com/downloads.html

I’d like to buy some happiness please

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

By Houston Paea

Google happiness’ and here’s what you’ll find. Hundreds and thousands of hits’, each and every one of them dedicated to either:
a) showing you the way to self-actualisation’ (fancy term for doing what feels right for you, or what makes you feel fulfilled’)
b) offering you tips’ and pointers’ showing you the way to true happiness’, or (and this is often the most common one)
c) ads for books, interviews and tickets to seminars that all offer you the chance to experience true happiness…at the cost of a small, but serviceable Honda.
happy in a field of flowers
It’s almost like they’re telling you, nay, commanding you to be happy, and that happiness is only attainable via The Secret’ RRP $31.99.

Since when was happiness not just a personal feeling, but a commercial product? Christmas, Easter… all of these days have been commercialised to the point that for most they have lost their cultural or spiritual value, but surely our core human feelings and emotions should be left untouched by the pervasive grasp of commercialism? Well, obviously not. Self-help books have their own section in the bookshop. It is estimated that self-help books generate roughly ’£80m a year in Britain alone. In US, where the market is more established, they are worth more than $600m! Globally the happiness industry is worth billions. You can study happiness at university, look for it at clubs, workshops and seminars, find it in books and magazines, go on happiness retreats and cruises. Every trip into town, just look around at the people shopping; they’re shopping for happiness’.

Has it always been this hard to find happy? If anything, the influx of happy’ products flooding the market has caused more distress, as people see them and realise that their lives aren’t as good as they could be; completely forgetting that they were fine up until they read that book or saw that TV ad. piggy-bankHow sad that our psychological well-being can be so strongly influenced by commercialisation and clever marketing to the point that we are willing to give up our hard earned cash in pursuit of a little bit of plastic happiness.

Who IS happy then? There are a lot of ways to measure happiness and there have been countless surveys and studies to try and work out who the happiest people are and which is the happiest country. They use all sorts of measures examining wealth, education, health care, life expectancy, resource use. The results tend to differ with various studies claiming Denmark, Vanuatu and Nigeria all the happiest country. (New Zealand usually makes it to the top 20!) What they do agree on is that you probably can’t find true happiness for $31.99 at your local book shop!

A 2003 study of more than 65 countries published in the UK’s New Scientist magazine found Nigeria has the world’s happiest people. The survey findings seemed to confirm the old saying that money cannot buy happiness, in fact it found that consumerism, or the desire for material goods, is actually a happiness suppressant.

Based on the results the survey proposes that the PATHS TO HAPPINESS’ are:

  • Genetic propensity to happiness
  • Marriage
  • Make friends and value them
  • Desire less
  • Do someone a good turn
  • Have faith (religious or not)
  • Stop comparing your looks with others
  • Earn more money
  • Grow old gracefully
  • Don’t worry if you’re not a genius


Want some more happiness in your life?

TAKE ACTION!

  • old-lady-smilingLaugh! You could evold lady smilingen join a laughter club. The concept of laughter clubs was started in India about 10 years ago by Dr Kataria, who was doing research into the health benefits of laughter. He went to the local park gathering friends and family to come and laugh with him. It started with a few jokes with friends and has grown into a world wide phenomenon. There are now 5000 clubs all over the world, including a couple in NZ!
  • Talk to someone new. Talking to someone can bring unexpected surprises and you might make a new friend, or make a real difference in their life.
  • Join people around the world and celebrate World Laughter Day on 4 May.
  • Check out The Happy Planet Index which measures ecological efficiency alongside human well-being and happiness. Calculate your own happy planet index.


LEARN MORE

A blog of one woman who tested all the happiness tips, theories and experiments available for a year.
An interesting article about Gross National Happiness in Bhutan and the ideas and concepts behind it.
Check out the Gross International Happiness Project who want to take Bhutan’s idea to the rest of the world.
This website
has a great summary of some important thoughts on happiness by some of the world’s great philosophers.

A happy planet

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

By Megan Eldergirl-smiling

Someone once quoted to me “When I was in primary school, they told me to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down happy. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment. I told them they didn’t understand life.”

So what is it that makes us happy? And is it the same everywhere in the world?

Finding happiness
According to our parents money can’t buy happiness, love, friends etc. And do you know what? It really can’t. To me anyway, happiness is having my friends around me, a roof above my head and being content inside. To some, it might be knowing that you’ve studied enough to pass a test, played a great game of sport or simply have a moment to head to the beach and forget about study. For others it might be going on holiday, getting a new car, apartment or cell phone. In general people in the West tend to be more individualistic and being happy is often seen as a reflection of personal achievement or material wealth.

Global happinessrainbow-world
Around the world, happiness means different things to different people. In the more community based nations for example, China and South Korea, happiness and satisfaction is likely to come from fulfilling the expectations of family, self-discipline, cooperation and meeting social responsibilities. In some parts of the world, happiness is linked to religion. In Japan, the ancient Shinto religion is woven into the lives of all of the country’s citizens. A happy life is a gift given from the Gods above. For most Muslims true happiness is found in knowing their purpose in life and by following the commands of God. Happiness is an exclusive quality of the soul and therefore cannot be attained by material success - money, power, fame, etc.

In Bhutan, a country which is one of the most isolated and least developed countries in the world, the wealth of the country is measured in Gross National Happiness (GNH). GNH was designed to protect the resources of Bhutan so they wouldn’t be exploited by the pursuit for development and national wealth. Law states that not less than 65% of the land must be covered in trees, and because of this law, 72% of Bhutan is covered in forest. The laws of GNH state that the government must conserve and promote Bhutanese culture, including language, art and national dress, to ensure that these traditions are not lost. In contrast most countries use Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which measures economic output only. Put simply, GDP measures a country’s level of happiness (or wellbeing) on its wealth, while GNH measures a country’s wealth based on the level of happiness.meditation

No one, in any part of the world, is going to be happy all the time, in fact it would be kind of weird to be happy 24/7, but despite our differences happiness is an integral part of people’s lives all over the world. In general it seems to depend less on what you have materially and more on your social, mental and spiritual resources.

I definitely want to be happy when I grow up.

TAKE ACTION!

  • Laugh! You could even join a laughter club. The concept of laughter clubs was started in India about 10 years ago by Dr Kataria, who was doing research into the health benefits of laughter. He went to the local park gathering friends and family to come and laugh with him. It started with a few jokes with friends and has grown into a world wide phenomenon. There are now 5000 clubs all over the world, including a couple in NZ!
  • Talk to someone new. Talking to someone can bring unexpected surprises and you might make a new friend, or make a real difference in their life.
  • Join people around the world and celebrate World Laughter Day on 4 May.
  • Check out The Happy Planet Index which measures ecological efficiency alongside human well-being and happiness. Calculate your own happy planet index.


LEARN MORE

A blog of one woman who tested all the happiness tips, theories and experiments available for a year.
An interesting article about Gross National Happiness in Bhutan and the ideas and concepts behind it.
Check out the Gross International Happiness Project who want to take Bhutan’s idea to the rest of the world.
This website has a great summary of some important thoughts on happiness by some of the world’s great philosophers.