Wise women and men, hermits and poets,  grandmothers and grandfathers, and now even social scientists and psychologists all agree. Stuff doesn't make us happy.  Yet we use precious resources on things that we buy today and send to landfill tomorrow.

This part of our website tries to work out what we can do about this.

What makes us happy?

Ideas from a WinACC meeting included:



  1. Buy toys and clothes from charity shops for young kids
  2. Challenge the expectation of piles of presents
  3. Give experiences as presents e.g. paintball, trips etc, instead of things
  4. Start a trend – don’t do party bags!
  5. Keep kids active and fit – outdoor play is free
  6. Don’t take kids to supermarkets
  7. Limit the amount of electronics that children have and set time limits.
  8. Avoid TV channels and websites with toy adverts
  9. Encourage healthy homemade food – rather than junk food
  10. Keeping fit as a family  - try walking using routes from walkinginhants.co.uk
  11. Cheap activities or free activities – try daysoutwiththekids.co.uk


  1. Travel without flying – get there without blowing your carbon budget
  2. Try a ‘stay-cation’ and take a holiday in the UK – it is less stress and discomfort
  3. House swap – try websites like homelink.org.uk to find houses in Great Britain and the rest of the world
  4. Camping – borrow equipment or buy second hand


  1. Choose your gadgets that do only what you need, not full of latest gizmos
  2. Buy gadgets that use less material and can be recycled
  3. Choose gadgets that have more than one use
  4. Be aware of peer pressure and advertisers who create demand to update phone technology
  5. Disposal – recycle phones and computers
  6. Buy fulfilling gadgets
  7. Community sharing e.g. DVDs shared amongst families, hand-me-down phones.
  8. Identify need before purchase - know why you are buying the new technology before you set out to buy
  9. Avoid impulse buys
  10. Try and limit the time you spend on your gadget – connect with the physical world and take time to have a conversation with somebody.
  11. Gadgets are often bought to fill empty space and  insecurity – find a hobby or activity that makes you feel good about yourself 

Household items

  1. Take a look at Streetbank.com for ways of sharing household items like tools
  2. Find what you need for free from sites like freecycle.org or ilovefreegle.org


  1. Clothes from recycled material
  2. Locally made products
  1. Make do and mend
  2. Encourage individuality and creativity – reduce transient nature of fashion
  3. Make charity shops more socially acceptable
  4. Look for organic clothing – they are more easily found these days
  5. Look for ethical clothing – check out the Guardian website
  6. Raising awareness about ethical issues behind ‘cheaper clothes stores’
  7. Think before you buy
  8. Discuss ethical fashion with teenagers to help them understand the true cost of cheap clothing

Christmas and gifting

  1. Stuff = responsibility
  2. Homemade or charity shop purchases
  3. Lessen adverts at Xmas, especially those aimed at children
  4. Only buy thoughtful and wanted gifts, no gimmicks
  5. Agree to buy one gift per person in a family
  6. Consumable gifts e.g. chocolate and jam
  7. Look into charity gifts – aiding those in need abroad
  8. Use newspaper, magazines, comics or old maps instead of wrapping paper
  9. Quality time gifts – taking friend for coffee, be creative
  10. Replace experiences over objects
  11. Children doing chores as a gift to parents

The actions people found most inspiring:

  • Wrapping paper from recycled magazines and maps etc
  • Breaking out of the fashion mould
  • House swaps as holidays
  • Purposeful gadget use
  • Item/gadget sharing – Street bank
  • Becoming more confident – less need for fashion

Prosperity or growth - ideas from a WinACC meeting


The Impossible Hamster

The Story of Stuff


Prosperity without growth, by Tim Jackson

In the news:

New national wellbeing statistics show money doesn't always equal happiness