A fascinating article in the NY Times, entitled “But Will It Make You Happy?,” discusses the relationship between consumption and happiness.  A major finding of acdemic research is that “spending money for an experience… produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on plain old stuff.”  So playing board games, having picnics, taking classes, and learning to play an instrument may make one happier than buying material goods, and this is likely far better for the environment.  I’m noticing a small cultural movement towards a simpler lifestyle that desires less stuff, local products, and less consumption.  Due to the existing American consumption patterns and the rise of American-style consumption patterns in China, any such movement would be a positive development.