Use public facilities.
Instead of always buying new books, use the public library where children
learn to care for resources not because they own them, but because others
need them too. Public parks and playgrounds provide many enriching
opportunities that backyard play equipment canít.
Watching TV with our children, looking through magazines together,
commenting on billboards provide opportunities to help young people become
more critical thinkers and less susceptible to advertising.
Enjoy the outdoors.
Young people who grow up learning the delights of natural beauty are less
interested in having lots of stuff in order to be happy. From walks in the
park to hiking in mountains, from sleep-outs in the backyard to camping or
canoeing, from local botanical gardens and arboretums to state and national
parks, the beauty of creation delights far more than computer games and
Personal "presence" can be more satisfying than purchased presents when we
celebrate birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions. Surprise
parties, albums with special photos and personal statements, "homemade"
gifts, going special places with the person being celebrated, etc., are all
wonderful alternatives to consumer-oriented rituals.
Open our homes and hearts to others.
Hospitality at home can include welcoming new neighbors, inviting school
friends to dinner who are having a rough time at home, reaching out to
relatives or neighbors living alone, offering a place to stay for teens
needing temporary shelter or respite, and including international students
who canít go home for holidays. Regular visits to local shelters, soup
kitchens, food pantries, and nursing homes offer opportunities to meet and
develop relationships with people who are hurting. This might motivate us
to make sacrifices in oneís life-style in order to help others who have
Spare and share.
up a regular process for cutting back on desserts, soda and liquor, costly
entertainment, or new clothes. Calculate the savings and decide as a family
how to distribute them. Collect appeals for money that you receive through
mail, email, the phone, or at the door and have the whole family decide
which to help.
Institute an "Exchange System".
Consider an "exchange system" whereby for each new item brought into the
home, a similar item is given away to someone in need. This works
especially well with articles of clothes but can also apply to books, games,
toys; dishware, appliances and furniture.
Shop with a conscience.
Buying from local producers (e.g., open air or farmers markets), eating at
neighborhood restaurants, shopping at local stores, buying the handicrafts
of "Third World" artisans for gifts, participating in boycotts of companies
that exploit their workers and/or the environment all demonstrate and teach
a sense of social responsibility. For a regular update on consumer
www.boycotts.org (the website for Co-op America).
Provide clothing allowances and shop at thrift stores.
Using thrift stores for some
clothes when the children are young opens up a whole new world for them
beyond the shopping mall. Inviting their friends to go along to a thrift
store provides peer support for this way of being "different." Putting
older children on a clothing allowance helps them learn how to budget and
shop for bargains, while eliminating many a "please buy meÖ" argument.