Worldwatch Annual Report: 'From Consumerism to Sustainability'. Press Release, Worldwatch Institute, January 10, 2010. "Without an intentional cultural shift that values sustainability over consumerism, no government pledges or technological advances will be enough to rescue humanity from unacceptably hazardous environmental and climate risks, concludes the Worldwatch Institute in the latest edition of its flagship annual report, State of the World 2010. The book, subtitled Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability, defines 'consumerism' as a cultural orientation that leads people to find meaning, contentment, and acceptance primarily through what they consume... In 2006, people consumed $30.5 trillion worth of goods and services, up 28% from just 10 years earlier... with the typical American consuming an average of 88 kilograms (194 pounds) of stuff daily-more than most Americans weigh. If the whole world lived like this, Earth could sustain only 1.4 billion people, or just a fifth of the current population, the report notes...

"The report examines the institutions that shape cultural systems. Business has played the leading role in shifting cultures to center on consumerism, making an array of resource-intensive products such as bottled water, fast food, cars, disposable paper goods, and even pets seem increasingly "natural." Government has also promoted consumerism as a lynchpin of policy, often making it synonymous with national well-being and job creation. As the global economic recession accelerated in 2009, wealthy countries primed national economies with $2.8 trillion of new government stimulus packages, only a small percentage of which focused on green initiatives...

"Today, an intentional shift is necessary and is already taking root thanks to cultural pioneers around the world who are starting to use six culture-shaping institutions-education, business, the media, government, traditions, and social movements-to reorient cultures toward sustainability. In 26 articles and 23 short text boxes, the report details dozens of innovative efforts that are tapping these key institutions, from changing business cultures and starting social enterprises to cultivating social marketing efforts, shifting family-planning norms, and tapping the power of primary schools, universities, and even school menus. 'As the world struggles to recover from the most serious global economic crisis since the Great Depression, we have an unprecedented opportunity to turn away from consumerism,' says Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin. 'In the end, the human instinct for survival must triumph over the urge to consume at any cost.'"

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