The Year of Value

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I recently learned that the main driver of increasing natural resource consumption is not population growth – as I would have assumed – but affluence. This means those with the most money are currently having the most impact on our planet. Not just the wealthy but, in fact, the average North American household. Currently it is an impact of consumption. The empowering part of knowing this is that we can change our impact to one of conservation.

2015 is the year of value. This is the year we decide what truly holds value for each of us. Not too long ago we bought into a belief of accumulation: status and satisfaction through stuff. Time for a new belief: satisfaction and purpose through relationships, experiences, service, simplicity and sustainability. This is the year we decide we have enough. When less really is more.

I spent much of January pulling everything out of closets and storage rooms, drawers and cupboards. As I fleshed out the contents and story of my life through my belongings, I came face to face with all my ‘stuff’ – not only what lay on the floor before me but also my attachment to their stories and parts they played in my life. As I distribute it among charities, consignment stores, friends, and various new homes, I feel lighter, freer, healthier, and happier.

Cleaning house is good for the soul… and the planet. Perhaps it’s because I’m older and a wee bit wiser, or perhaps it’s simply because it’s time, but I am less consumed with consuming. I see riches in relationships, wealth in experiences, prosperity in purpose, and financial security in simplicity. I see that around me is already enough. And I see that this is not the case for so many in the world.

Digital detox is next. Less screen time = more time. Period. More time for what I value:

~ self care practices like yoga and meditation

~ time in nature

~ catching up with family and friends

~ sourcing and preparing great local, fresh, chemical-free food

~ sharing that food with family and friends

~ lightening up and slowing down

~ giving back

~ supporting sustainable solutions

When I learned of the effect of affluence, it was while studying Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities, a course by Johan Rockström of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. I had 2 chances at each quiz question during the course. I always took the first chance before watching the video lecture – just to see how much I already knew. Then I watched the lecture to expand my understanding. My first try on the question of the primary driver of natural resource consumption was population growth. That seemed logical at 7 billion people. The red x surprised me, as did the answer of affluence.

The following day my son returned home with a class assignment on consumerism. The link he gave me led to stats on Canada’s average household spending by province. No surprise that Alberta led the way. What surprised me was the dollar value. Over $101,000 in 2013. Over $100k per year!

And yet, most people don’t feel affluent because we live beyond our means thanks to easily available and abundant credit. It’s time to lighten the load: on ourselves, others, and the planet.

It’s time to look at what we truly value. If affluence is driving consumption of natural resources, that seems an easy issue to correct. One that we can all get to work on immediately.

Stop investing in stuff.

Start investing in the 3 Ps: people, planet, peace of mind.

Read how this pair saved over $40k each during their year of Buy (almost) nothing.

Read a buddhist perspective on climate change with Thich Nhat Hanh’s words of wisdom.

Watch this TED talk by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus on A Rich Life With Less Stuff.

Plant a tree in the atONE virtual forest while the Carbon Farmer plants one in their real forest.

Get informed. Get inspired. Get involved!

“Somewhere, someone is happy with less than you have.” ~Unknown