Leading environmental experts contend that the highly consumptive lifestyles of Western nations are polluting our world and depleting its natural resources. Edward Wilson puts this idea into perspective in "The Future of Life": "For every person in the world to reach present U.S. levels of consumption with existing technology would require four more planet Earths."
Let us reflect on our lifestyle choices to truly differentiate between our needs and our wants. The current U.S. problem with obesity is an indication that we do not know when to stop eating, just as our society's obsession with material wealth is reflected in the vast amounts of advertising bombarding us constantly with the message to overconsume. I believe that materialism clutters our lives, exacerbating feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction and facilitating a constant comparison between what others possess and what we do not.
Instead of using luxury shopping as a pastime, why not look inward instead? Why not focus on relationships with family members and friends, improving connections with other human beings? Why not cultivate a spiritual relationship with the natural environment, whether it be in a local park or just outside the window with an evening breeze? Music, poetry, dance, theater and other art forms are excellent ways to appreciate and/or express individual and collective creativity.And volunteerism and service can be instrumental in helping individuals find meaning and contribute to their local community, thereby serving a purpose greater than themselves.