RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Here's something to consider as you check and recheck your holiday gift list: Many of us already have too much stuff. In fact, about 10 percent of U.S. households now choose to store their excess stuff (self-storage is a $20-billion business) rather than get rid of it. Yet all this stuff doesn't seem to be making us any happier. "There are theories that depression rates over the past 50 years have risen dramatically in the U.S. and other developed countries because people have more and do less," explains Rodale.com adviser Jeffrey Rossman, PhD, clinical psychologist and director of life management at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA. "We have more material possessions and engage in less physical activity than in any previous time in history.
As a counter-example, consider the Amish. "The trend is different in American subcultures in which abundant physical work and minimal reliance on technology continue to be part of the culture, such as among the Amish," he adds. "The rate of depression among their Amish neighbors is dramatically lower than among suburb- and city-dwelling Philadelphians."
We're not going to get all horse-and-buggy on you, but we will suggest creative, green gifts—many of them homemade items, experiences, or affordable tools—that will help you become more active, and are sure to lift the spirits of gift giver and receiver alike, without breaking the bank. Really, it all comes down to consuming less—which is lighter on the planet as well as your wallet.