Diamond-Cut Life

More Joy, Less Stuff

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High Happiness, Low Carbon Footprint

October 7th, 2010 by Alison · 2 Comments · energy, entertainment, global warming and climate change, nature

I am flawed in oh so many ways. I am impatient, intense, I don’t write to my invalid mother as frequently as I should,  and while I no longer binge on Haagen Dazs ice cream, my sweet tooth is such that my husband terms my coffee a vehicle for sugar.

In my favor, though, I am happy, and I’ve been told my happiness is contagious (actually, research shows that emotions are contagious, in general). And when I used this fast and fun carbon footprint calculator I learned that my household’s carbon footprint is only 52% that of households with comparable income.  (It’s only by reducing our nation’s and world’s carbon footprint that we can contain global warming.)

What makes our carbon footprint low? We have just one car that we don’t drive a lot; we eat low on the food chain with lots of locally grown vegetables and little meat or dairy; our house is energy efficient, partly due to a helpful visit and free installation of compact fluorescent light bulbs from the Energy Trust of Oregon. We don’t buy much stuff, as evidenced by the garbage truck only collecting one small can of garbage from us per month. I buy my clothes at Goodwill, and look just as nice as other women. Singing, reading, dancing, running and hanging out in nature, or with friends at each others’ houses are inexpensive forms of entertainment.

Our carbon footprint is closely tied to our consumption. The point is that we don’t have to consume much to be happy. Unfortunately, our culture’s economy is based on the opposite notion. Fortunately, we do not have to be bound by our culture. We can lead it in a different direction, and our happiness as we consume modestly is a contagious force.


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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Colleen

    I like how you talk of not being bound by our American culture of consumption. I think one can reinforce this by being around folks from other countries, (either here in the U.S. or through travel) where getting by with less has absolutely no effect on happiness. A good example of how consumption-culture is ingrained (or not) is the well-received documentary “Babies.” With no backstory or commentary from the filmmakers whatsoever, the lives of 4 babies in 4 different cultures are simply followed in their first year of life. It is fascinating to watch how culture shapes us, and the babies with ‘less’ in Mongolia and Namibia were extraordinarily happy. The babies in Japan and America were frequently overwhelmed (and unhappy) with too much stuff and stimulation. I’d definitely recommend seeing this movie!

  • Crafty Green poet

    Excellent post, consumption doesn’t make us happy!

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