A New Year’s Resolution: Collect Experiences, Not Stuff.

Matt McGibbon is a fourth year Political Science and Sustainable Development student at SFU. He is an aspiring social innovator and entrepreneur with a passion for craft beer, live music and good food.

I’ve never been one for new years resolutions, but the coming of 2016 has me feeling inspired to take some further steps toward a more sustainable lifestyle. 

Perhaps I’m still reeling from the positive vibes coming out of the Paris Climate Conference in December; or maybe it’s the very recent news that the B.C. Government will not support Kinder Morgan’s Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion. Either way, I’m feeling like the beginning of the New Year is a time ripe for personal growth, alongside positive social and environmental change on a larger scale.

My partner and I began 2016 with the joys of moving into a new home. While this can be an exciting and somewhat stressful time, there is nothing like having to pack and unpack all of your belongings to draw attention to just how much stuff you’ve collected over the years. From that waffle iron I got for Christmas in ‘09, to my partner’s excessive bag and boot collection, there is the tendency is to hold onto these things and lug them through life, even though I very rarely, if ever, require a waffle iron, and one or two pairs of boots are certainly sufficient for a short and mild Vancouver winter.

A lot of time and effort goes into the purchase and collection of stuff. I often think about how we have been programmed as a society to consume and require the newest and shiniest of things. So much so that our lives become cluttered and often the more important facets of life - such as human connection and experiences - fall by the wayside.

Having just finished trudging through another holiday season of traffic jams and last-minute shopping marathons, I’ve given some serious thought – as I do every year – as to how I might do things a little differently. It concerns me that so many of us – myself included – choose to associate the holidays with spending money instead of spending time with others.

This year, I am choosing to focus on the latter. Stuff doesn’t build character or bring richness to our lives; sharing experiences and connecting and collaborating with one another are the true keys to success and happiness.

Instead of purchasing new furniture for our new home, my partner and I have decided to find used items and refurbish them to our liking. And instead of spending time hunting for the “perfect” birthday gift for her in March, I think spending the day together on a hike, and ending the day with a home-cooked vegetarian meal will do the trick. 

As cliché as the notion of New Year’s resolutions may be, we could all use this time of year as an opportunity to reflect and set simple goals to let go of old habits, and to make room for healthier, more sustainable ones.

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