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Debating holiday consumerism
Julie Grant, Environmental Report
A lot of people don’t want to get caught up in the consumerism of the holidays. But often family and friends to get gifts from loved ones. Julie Grant spent time with one family where gift- giving is a real struggle:
(17 December 2007)

Time to call it a wrap for wrapping paper?

Caitlin Carpenter | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
Some dream of a ‘green Christmas’ without the gift wrap, while others can’t give up the element of surprise it brings.

After her husband opened an environmentally friendly restaurant last year in Boston, Heather Lionette began thinking about ways to help the environment at home. With the holiday season in full swing, Ms. Lionette recalled the huge number of garbage bags that pile up along her street during the holidays, filled with mounds of wrapping paper, ribbon, boxes, and cards.

This year, many green folk will opt for alternatives to wrapping paper, such as reusable fabric covers or old newspapers. A smaller number, including Lionette, are taking this waste-reducing idea a step further: They’re not wrapping gifts at all.

“Between opening the restaurant and Al Gore’s movie,” Lionette says, “in the past year or so I’ve really been thinking more about how to cut waste out of my life. When I started to think about it, wrapping paper is such a waste and doesn’t really serve an important purpose.”

While environmentalists say eliminating wrapping paper foreshadows Christmases to come, others wonder if these eco-Scrooges are cutting back on important holiday decorum.
(20 December 2007)

Boomers discover that it’s easy being green

Mindy Fetterman, USA TODAY
In a Christmas shopping season in which former vice president Al Gore won a Nobel Prize for his work alerting the world to the dangers of global warming, more consumers say they are trying to “shop green.”

One in five people surveyed said they will buy more eco-friendly products this holiday and shop more at “green” retailers that make efforts to save energy and resources in their stores and operations, according to Deloitte, a consulting firm.

But is the environmental surge by consumers just a flash in the pan? Not likely.

Online retailer says 71% of customers that it surveyed said it was “important to purchase eco-friendly products.” “I was stunned by that,” says President Ron LaPierre.

And then there are the boomers.

There are now 40 million so-called “green boomers” in the United States, according to a survey being released today by AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons. That’s more than half of all boomers, which, at 79 million, make up the largest generation in U.S. history.

While many may not have been early adopters of environmental behaviors, now that boomers are signing on in large numbers, the effects will be great, AARP says.
(20 December 2007)

America, the consumerist
We like barbecue, digital TV, soda – and cosmetic surgery

Bill Glauber and Ben Poston
We crave the constant stream of music from MP3 players and the age-defying jolt of Botox injections.

We drink more bottled water than milk, barbecue more than we bake and spend more than twice as much on prescription drugs as sporting goods.

This is America in all its numerical glory, as revealed in the Census Bureau’s 2008 Statistical Abstract of the United States.

… And in 2004 Americans consumed 22% more calories each day – 3,900 – compared with the daily caloric intake in the 1970s.

“The whole idea that people don’t really know how many calories we need vs. how much we eat,” said Patti Cobb, chief clinical dietitian at Froedtert Hospital.

Cobb blames overconsumption in part on what she calls the “clean plate syndrome.”

“As we are depending more on restaurant meals, there is more of a tendency to finish food there than to take it home. We have that perceived value of more is better, and if we are eating meals away from home we want to get a lot for our money,” she said.
(20 December 2007)