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Experiential Giving Pilot Project

November 14, 2017

Today’s Guest Blog is by Kelley Denning, Behavior and Social Change Fellow, at New Dream.

The public health community has a guiding document that highlights the connection between health and consumption. The report, Principles of Ethical Practice of Public Health, describes how people and their physical environment are interdependent. People depend on natural resources; and, a damaged environment has an adverse effect on health. However, people also effect the environment through consumption of resources and generation of waste. People and the planet are uniquely connected.

Joel Cohen, a professor at the Rockefeller University and Columbia University, proposes three “schools of thought” about this connection:

First, the “Bigger Pie School”, subscribes to the liberal philosophy that more resources can be produced through improved technology such as the agricultural “green revolution” based on genetically engineered crops and advanced chemical fertilizers. Second, the “Fewer Forks School”, seeks to reduce the number of people and/or the expectations of people served, such as through family planning programs and encouraging people to eat lower on the food chain and reduce waste. Third, the “Better Manners School”, advocates changing the terms under which people interact both politically and economically and includes solutions based on freer markets, socialism, wealth redistribution and less corruption.

As a social and behavior change fellow at New Dream, I hope to address the “Fewer Forks School”.  I have spent years studying and working at the intersection of environmental science and social and behavioral change. In June 2017, I launched a pilot project for New Dream exploring people’s motivations, perceptions, and thoughts around reducing personal consumption as part of my master’s thesis.

Giving Memories Instead of "Stuff" Pilot Project

An experience is a fun and memorable gift, and can be anything from taking a bird identification class to attending a comedy show with friends.

Research shows that experiences are special because they can be unique, the associated anticipation increases enjoyment, they provide long-lasting memories, they are fleeting so we value them more, and their value increases with time.

I’m reaching out through various networks to ask you to help us inform the New Dream pilot project by participating in a short (8-10 minute) survey about the attitudes, barriers, and benefits associated with experiential gift giving.

And, if you are motivated, New Dream invites you to click the link at the end of the survey to pledge to simplify your holidays this winter by giving one experiential gift instead of a material gift.

After signing the pledge New Dream will send you three “e-tips” between now and the end of the year with tools, hacks and gift ideas to help make experiential gift giving and receiving easier and more fun. You can opt out at any time. Help spread the happiness by sharing this pledge with others!

Less Stuff Gift Idea #3

By choosing to give an experiential gift instead of a material gift, you will increase the happiness and well-being of someone you care about, and protect the environment through decreased consumption.

By Kelly Dennings

Kelley Dennings started her career in the recycling industry. She is currently working toward a master’s in public health at the University of South Florida to work at the intersection of health, environment and social change. She is also the President of the Social Marketing Association of North America. This all-volunteer organization works to bring social change professionals together for networking, learning and collaboration for improved impact.

For more details about Kelley’s project click here. If you or your organization would like to help promote these topics (decreasing consumption, increasing happiness, spending more time in nature and with family and friends, etc.) please contact Kelley.

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