Merry Post-Materialism Christmas!

Lately, I’ve been struggling with the amount of “stuff” in the house.  This year, like no other, I’m dreading the influx of the new stuff that Christmas traditionally represents.  To my delight, something was going around work  recently on things we can do towards a sustainable Christmas.  One of the ideas pushed was to cut down on the stuff being passed about in favour of experience, or intangibles, and that is SO speaking my language lately.

So, this year, the present buying I’m in charge of is taking a real intangibles bent.  I’m pouring over service aggregation sites like redballon, and targeting queries to places where my gift recipients live (mostly Brisbane and Cairns).

I’m also looking into other options like supporting threatened and endangered species, which includes trying to match people against animals I know they like, and sponsoring support programs on their behalf.

For instance, I recently learned that 2012 has been a very rough year for our native Koala, and its conservation status has downgraded from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘threatened’. Programs like adopting a koala and bushland restoration are now options that I’m considering for friends and family who are keen on koalas.

I was also recently sitting in on a presentation from a researcher specialising in tree carbon dioxide uptake.  I learned that there is a carbon dioxide tipping point for vegetation, that once passed, cause them to absorb less carbon dioxide, triggering systemic collapse.  This researcher was arguing that for certain susceptible species, it’s already demonstrably happening.

Now, this presentation spooked me. Consequently, what I’m also looking for in terms of presents are options to do with carbon sequestering.  The Carbon Offset Guide of Australia has been a useful aggregation site.  My personal preferences come to the fore now, and I’m most interested in local options that involve forestry development.

Unfortunately, there’s not much for individuals. Seems most of these initiatives , such as Ecofund and CountryCarbon are targeted at landholders interested in revegetation programs.  What about the city-dwellers who want to participate in progams that actively support carbon sequestering?

Well, there’s always Greenfleet.  They allow contributions from individuals.  It’s been a while since I looked at Greenfleet, and I was delighted to discover that they supply “typical” packages targeting carbon offset values that match the circumstances individuals might find themselves in.  As a sweetener to the deal, these donations are tax deductible.

That’s about it.  I’m not keen on getting more stuff, so I’m actively seeking to gift others with not-stuff that might just make a positive difference.  No doubt there are other things I’ve missed, so if you have any further ideas, let me know.


2 responses to “Merry Post-Materialism Christmas!

  1. friend of the koalas


    (um, how can you follow that word with anything else?)

    but you’re right, buying stuff in a world where [insert frightening environmental statistic here] is happening, is well, I guess a matter of personal choice, within a cultural framework that is weighted with making thermodynamic whoppie (yeah, I’m rambling but kurt vonnegut would know just how to comment here, and make it poignant and funny and sad all at the same time, god how I miss him) so you do what you can and whatever makes you feel good while doing it I guess. That’s the eternal jolly red spirit of Christmas.

    I reckon if the cute koalas could talk, they’d say: fuck man, we are the new materialism.

    Just kidding. Kind of.

    I think it’s great that you are looking at other options for gift giving than stuff. Giving not stuff has to be doing great stuff for your environmental karma. I’ve just picked up a car to go between bridges. I’m stuffed.

    The cute koalas say: fuck man, I thought you were on our side.

    I’d add to your list: give things you make by hand, yourself. The best and most successful thing I do is write software, but unfortunately there is little joy to be had in receiving a hand-crafted lambda function, wrapped in comments.

    And if you can’t make things, do things! Put on a one man play and be the Lorax. Or even better, perform the Hunting of the Snark for your extended family and friends! There are so many things you can do that don’t stress the environment, or feed the machine, that buying stuff has to be the last lazy resort, don’t you think?

    my gift to you is this comment.
    you’ll have to wait till next year for the lambda function…
    if we survive tomorrow, that is.


  2. And thanks for the gift there friend. Forget the the lambda function offer, I can cook my own thanks if the desire grips me. 🙂


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