Durban is packed to the rafters this week, between the “Matric Ragers” from all over the country, officials and celebs attending Cop17 – the Climate Change Conference.

Traffic is a nightmare with blue light conveys to and from the airport.

Add to this the start of the school holidays, tourists and of course Christmas.

As good as this all seems for business – I find it all very contradictory.

On one hand – you can’t open a newspaper or magazine without being drowned in advertisements and marketing booklets. On the flipside the whole premise behind Cop17 is the undertaking of green initiatives for sustainability as well as the protection of natural resources.

Consumerism is defined as the attachment to materialistic values or possessions, or the theory that a progressively greater consumption of goods is economically beneficial.

Dr. Jorge Majfud states “Trying to reduce environmental pollution without reducing consumerism is like combatting drug trafficking without reducing the drug addiction.”[19]

Can we combat consumerism and if we do, what is that doing to those trying to earn an honest living.

The questions here are, who is right or is there a right?

I got an amazing email last week, which I feel answers some of my own questions. I’m not sure the author of this circulated mail, but I loved the sentiment that was shared and added to be other readers.

It was titled “Birth of a New Tradition” – it went on to state that as the traditional holidays approach when there is always giving and receiving of gifts, lets think out of the box for gifts. Start supporting South African businesses especially the small owner run establishments.

It is always more personal to give a well thought through gift rather than running to your local mall and spending “just to get it done”

Nikki Brighton added “We don’t have a White Christmas in South Africa, so lets have a Green Christmas” –

Once you start thinking on this tract, it’s amazing what you can come up with.

  • Gift Voucher from: your moms regular hairdresser, your sister’s nail artist, a local garden nursery, a few buckets of golf balls at the local driving range, the car wash in your neighborhood, massage or beauty gift, book stores
  • Go Local: do your shopping at the local craft or farmers markets, homemade wooden furniture, jewelry parties, a car service, gym membership, computer tuning, a cleaning service for a day, bottled jams, homemade liquors and sweets
  • Entertainment: tickets to a local show at the theatre, tipping your server well at a meal out (local restaurant of coarse) if you have a venue – musicians are always looking for work
  • 2nd Hand: Pre owned items have a story to tell, Hospice and SPCA shops are full of treasures that can be restored or revamped, out of print books and publications
  • Buy a Brick: KZN Crane Foundation – support this endangered bird – Ann 078 599 0212
  • Substitute a gift – for a feel good donation, The online B.U.G Shop, SPCA, Meals on Wheels, almost all feeding schemes, children’s shelter and homes would all appreciate your donation of cash or time to assist them as they serve others.

This could be a “win win” festive season, no longer draining the SA pockets with money leaving the country, but by supporting South African small businesses you’re supporting your local community, which benefits us all.

This is a start, to caring about each other and the environment as a whole – and yet we can still spend and spoil friends and family. Consumerism at its best!

TomorrowToday Global