Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

The ‘Affluenza Season’ is upon us; advice is to give less

Posted on 21 November 2017 by calvin

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
Nokomis resident and entrepreneur Brianna Harrington has a suggestion for the holiday season this year: give less! Harrington is not a modern-day Scrooge, but someone deeply concerned about the effects of hyper-consumption on our planet and its inhabitants. She believes that we would all be happier exchanging more moments, and fewer mementos—not just during the holiday season but all year long.

Harrington founded her non-profit organization Seek United in 2016, shortly after returning from a year in Dublin, Ireland, where she pursued a graduate degree in international development.

Photo right: Brianna Harrington, Seek United founder, giving a community presentation at Patagonia in St. Paul. She said of her monthly Live Well Challenges, “They are meant to guide people to live more mindfully.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

“Research shows that all the clutter we’ve accumulated in this country causes stress,” she said, “depletes mental energy, leads to impulsive decision making, and is linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety. Families now spend more time shopping than they spend enjoying products they already own.”

Harrington wants to do something about all that. She experienced an “aha” moment while reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by author Maria Kondo last year, and recommends it as a jumping off point for those who want to start living more sustainably. She said, “After reading Kondo’s book and seeing a film about the highly polluting fashion industry called ‘True Cost,’ I decided that I wanted to create some actionable steps to address hyper-consumption. These actionable steps are called the Live Well Challenges, and they can be found on my website..”

“Each challenge is one step that a person can take to effect a change in their own life,” Harrington said. “With each challenge, we become more aware of how small changes add up to make a big difference in the world.”

The upcoming monthly Live Well Challenges will be Give Less in December; Mindful Goal Setting in January; Detox your Personal and Home Care Items in February. More information can be found at www.seekunited.org.

Harrington is available for small group, community, or workplace speaking engagements, and can be reached at info@seekunited.org. She is particularly interested in talking with companies that want to create a happier, healthier work environment. She said, “Many of the Live Well Challenges are home-based, but there’s a lot of crossover from home to the workplace.”

Harrington continued, “The thing about clothing is very important. The fashion industry is the second highest polluting industry in the world—after oil. The trend now is for people to buy cheaply made items of clothing, to wear them (on average) no more than seven times, and them to discard them. This is called ‘fast fashion,’ and it has had a devastating environmental impact.

What if companies created a work climate where it wasn’t seen as negative to wear the same clothes to work a few times each week? What if companies really paid attention to the amount of food waste they generate at corporate events?”

“As the holiday season approaches, consider using your creativity to give more shared experiences instead of more things,” Harrington said. “The amount of waste that American families generate in November and December is thought to increase by as much as 25%, and it’s already too high the rest of the year. If you have to give a gift, try giving it un-wrapped, or wrapped in something re-usable like a piece of fabric.”

Harrington said, “’Coming out’ to family and friends as a minimalist can be a sensitive subject. If you see your family at Thanksgiving, try mentioning then that you would like to steer away from material gifts this year. Suggest an ‘experience gift” like going to an art museum or the zoo, or a donation to a favorite non-profit. Then ask others if they’d like to do the same…”

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