Green Tip – Invest in Experience Consumption

by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Instead of buying stuff (remember last week’s Green caleigh-snowmanTip) invest in experience consumption.

What is experience consumption? It’s spending time, and perhaps some money, on experiences instead of material possessions.
Source: Robin Shreeves

I just read an awesome article at Mother Nature Network from my friend Robin Shreeves entitled Why I’m optimistic about 2010: Experience consumption. Robin explains how the recession has helped us remember our lives are not about the stuff we buy, they are about our family, friends and experiences. Does this sound familiar? Have I not been saying this forever?

Green Living is about living simply, sustainably and thoughtfully.

In her article Robin references a New York Times article that says a recent New York Times/CBS News poll has found, nearly half of Americans said they were spending less time buying nonessentials, and more than half are spending less money in stores and online.

I don’t need validation from the New York Times or ½ of America… but it sure is nice for a change.

According to the Times’ article, The Department of Labor’s time-use surveys show a similar trend: compared with 2005, Americans spent less time in 2008 buying goods and services and more time cooking or taking part in “organizational, civic and religious activities.”

In a subsequent article, January’s ‘experience consumption’ ideas, Robin gives us some wonderful ideas to help us amass experiences and not stuff in 2010. Here are a few:

Volunteer at a food pantry or soup kitchen. After the holidays, many food pantries probably need a bit of cleaning out and organizing. Soup kitchens still need people to help serve. Volunteer by yourself or as a family for an experience that you won’t forget.

Make a big pot of soup from scratch. Try to use up as many ingredients that you already have in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer before you shop for new ingredients. has a great search feature that allows you to search by ingredients you have on hand. Type in the ingredients you have and put “soup” for a keyword and see what you come up with. When you’re done making your soup, share it with a neighbor or someone else you think may enjoy it.

Borrow some great food-themed movies from the library.Invite friends to bring a snack to share for a movie night in. Chocolat, Diner, Mystic Pizza, Who is Killing the Great Chef’s of Europe, Ratatouille, Babette’s Feast, Bottle Shock, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Scotland, PA are just a few titles to look for. I’m sure you can think of dozens more.

Some local ideas for January 2010:

Institute a family game night.

Take advantage of the season. Get outdoors. Go for a walk, go sledding, make a snowman or snow angel.

Pizza Pop Family Concert: “Children’s Stories Set to Music” from the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony. This delightful program is 7pm on Friday, January 22nd at the NDSU Festival Concert Hall. Bernard Rubenstein is conducting. For more information contact go to

If you have any experience consumption ideas for us, please leave them in the comment section!

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:
Giving our kids (even big kids) unstructured outdoor play time makes them happier, healthier… even smarter. Learn more About Green Hour.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at


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  1. Jess @ Openly Balanced’s avatar

    Great advice! I really like the movie night suggestion.

    Also, while not free, the movie Fresh doing this small showing licensing thing where you buy the movie and the right to do a showing in your home. It might be really fun to have a Fresh night with a bunch of sustainably-minded food-loving people! I keep meaning to organize one, but the procrastinator in me decided to suggest it here instead :P.

    And yes – go outside!

  2. Leslie @LaMamaNaturale’s avatar

    Love this article Wendy! Great tips! The movie night suggestion was my fav also! 🙂


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