Buy or Borrow? Plan a great winter beach getaway!

When planning a winter beach getaway, whether by yourself, with a few friends or family, there is a lot to do before you board the plane. Making your trip a little greener is easy to do. Use this infographic to remind yourself what you should buy and what you can borrow. Borrowing is great for items you only use once a year and it’s a great way to save money and reduce waste.

buy vs. borrow for beach vacation


Borrow Your Next Party Dress

As we enter the Holiday Season, our social calendar includes events that require dressing up. From office parties to family gatherings, we want to look great. There’s the dress, the shoes, a handbag and jewelry too. It’s all fun and cheerful until we see the bill! Dressing up for an event can cost hundreds of dollars, even when shopping at an affordable store. And chances are your new dress will never see the light of day again after the one glamorous night.


The solution: borrow a dress, and shoes and handbag and even jewelry too!

The concept is simple: Borrow a dress from a friend for few days, wear it, dry clean it and then return it.  Lendogram makes it easy to source and borrow dresses and accessories from friends.  Find out how!

How to Become a Socially Responsible Consumer

We are all consumers and customers. However, there is a larger difference between what we consume and how we consume, and how it can have an effect on people in the production and supply chain of these goods we consume.

responsibleconsumerWe mainly see socially responsible products pushed to the forefront of our consciousness these days due to slick marketing campaigns and ads, pushed by both corporations as well as celebrities on how their product gives back to the communities which they gain their raw resources from.

The real question here is, does it really do that? Who’s benefiting here? Behind a slick marketing campaign is the need for us to feel good about what we are buying, especially after many journalists and undercover whistleblowers shed light on how the luxuries of modern consumerism are produced – in the sweatshops of china, with slave labour in Africa, and sometimes, child slave labour too.

Sometimes, the product of such methods also cause massive environmental devastation, not pollution, devastation. We may or may not see it, but who knew your bar of soap causes forest fires every year in Indonesia started by farmers for their crop of oil palm? What’s oil palm you ask? Well, nothing much, except that it’s a major component in making many kinds of soap, dye, and luxury and everyday bathroom products for both genders.

Here’s how you can do your part to combat worldwide exploitative labour and consumerism destroying communities and livelihoods.

1. Check The Source

A product needs to be made from raw materials that have to be refined, processed, and shipped to your point of sale (POS). Now, in between the mining and processing of such raw material, many things happen.

We first need to look at where the raw materials come from. Generally speaking, it is neither practical nor feasible to trace back every raw ingredient in your shampoo to its source, however, a quick Google search will give you the locations and operational areas of the main ingredients of your product’s manufacturer. Sometimes, the manufacturer deals with its supplier who operates independently, however, you can still do a little research and find out.

A quick example is knowing where your paper comes from – is it from a sustainable timber and wood pulp source? or is it illegally mined? Some countries as a whole have very bad reputations in regulating their own resource extraction industries, it is best to steer clear of companies who operate in such countries.

2. Corporate Accountability

This is quite straightforward. Some corporations are very bad at telling the truth, resorting to bribery, lies, and intimidation as well as hushed deals to get as much wealth as possible from both consumer and communities that thy exploit.

Such businesses should be shunned, and their products avoided at all cost.

These businesses sometimes, in a bid to hide their bad rep, undergo a rebranding exercise and sell their products under different subsidiary brands, making it easy to hide their bad reputation from consumers like yourself.

This is especially prevalent these days, and can also be countered with a quick google search.

An exception however – should apply. Sometimes, said companies with a bad reputation get bought over, or taken over by a more reputable corporation and overhauled. In that case, it should be prudent to do your research on whether the company has adopted sustainable and responsible practices before buying their products again.

3. Check Production Partners

Modern day manufacturers very, rarely act alone. Such is the case that a company needs to harvest, say, oil palm in Indonesia for its soap for example; it works with a business partner in Indonesia to supply the local labour, machinery as well as raw material, while it provides the financing.

However, the local labour may be exploitative, and the harvest and planting methods may be damaging as well as polluting to the environment and neighbouring countries. In extreme cases, the manufacturer is unaware of such unsustainable practices being used by its partners as well, and is only notified upon a case being brought to court by watchdog agencies or whistleblowers leaking news.

4. Consider Materials Used

Before you actually buy the product, have you considered the impact it will have during and after its use?

Is it a one off product? Do you need it? Is the packaging/container re-usable, recyclable, or is it hard to decompose and recycle? These factors should come into play when you are considering buying or even getting the item for free.

For this reason, plastic bottles, styrofoam and other non-biodegradable materials should be sparsely purchased, or never, if possible.

5. Consider Impact of Product

Consider the product from a consumer standpoint, and the attitude it generates in society. is the product actually needed? Or is it just another whim that the market demands, but we don’t actually need?

Going by the saying, “if you don’t need it, don’t get it” is a good way to go. Needing and wanting are two different things altogether. A consumerist lifestyle not only pollutes, but also contributes to your general decline in a standard of living, as one-use items tend to be lower in quality.

Buying more and more of these one-time use items with short product life cycles only drains your finances as well as encouraging manufacturers to supply more of them, in a vicious cycle. Be aware of what you buy!

With all these points in mind, we hope you can become a more responsible consumer!

Household Happiness Factor

Household debt is defined as the amount of money that all adults in the household owe financial institutions. It includes consumer debt and mortgage loans. With consumers constantly buying items on credit, it seems as though the world is starting to get into a huge consumer debt.



In Australia, Australian households have more debt compared to the size of the country’s economy than in any other world. As of the third quarter of 2015, it is now the world’s most indebted household sector relative to GDP. It has around $2 trillion in unconsolidated household debt relative to $1.6 trillion in GDP.

In Canada, reports showed that Canadians are ending 2015 with record-high debt and mid-2016, household debt is still growing. The Bank of Canada has expressed concerns about the elevated levels of household debt, which pose a potential risk to Canada’s financial stability in the event of a sharp economic downturn.

In Asia, China’s total debt is more than double of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015, and industry experts have expressed concerns that the debt linkages between the state and industry could be fatal. The country’s debt has increased to almost 250% of its GDP due to use of cheap credit to stimulate slowing growth, and releasing a massive debt-fuelled spending binge by consumers.

In Japan, it looks like the country is heading for a full-blown solvency crisis as the country runs out of local investors and may be forced to inflate away its debt in a desperate end-game. The Japanese economy is trapped in a vicious cycle of deflation and stagnation where escaping from this requires bold attempts on both monetary and fiscal fronts.

“We buy things to make us happy. And we succeed for only a short period of time. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

Consumerism is good to a certain extent as it helps in stimulating growth in the country. However, consumerism becomes excessive when it extends beyond what is needed. When we start consuming excessively beyond our income level, boundaries are removed.


Although cheap and easy credit allows us to obtain money to purchase more items. Does possessing more material goods result in increase in happiness?

A study shown by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University who has been studying the question of money and happiness for two decades, says that it might not necessarily be so. According to him, “We buy things to make us happy, and we succeed. But only for a short period of time. New things are exciting to us at first, but then we adapt to them.”

“Buying more might cause unhappiness”

This refutes the basic assumption that we’ve been holding for ages. For example – when we spend money on a physical item – as opposed to an experience, the same physical item lasts longer and supposedly makes us happier for a longer period of time as compared to a one-off experience like a concert or vacation.

In fact, buying more items might be the cause of our unhappiness. Gilovich suggests that instead of buying the latest iPhone or the latest BMW, you’ll get more happiness spending money on experiences like going to art exhibits, doing outdoor activities, learning a new skill, or traveling.

One study conducted by Gilovich showed that if people have an experience they say negatively impacted their happiness, once they have the chance to talk about it, their assessment of that experience goes up.

He attributes this to the fact that something that might have been stressful or scary in the past can become a funny story to tell at a party or be looked back on as an invaluable character-building experience.

Sharing experiences can also help us connect with others more than sharing our thoughts about our material belongings. For instance, you’re more likely to feel a connection with someone who has also taken a trip to Bali than someone who also just bought a 4K TV.

Furthermore, when we buy material goods and items, new items are exciting to us at the beginning. But over time we start to adapt to them and a vicious cycle of buying goods and items in a bid to maintain that feeling of happiness occurs.

Gilovich’s research has huge implications for individuals who want to maximize their happiness return on their financial ‘investments’, for employers who want to have a happier workforce, and policy-makers who want to have happy citizens.

If we are to take this research to heart, it means that we should not only have a shift in how individuals spend their discretionary income, but also place an emphasis on employers giving paid vacation and governments taking care of recreational spaces.

In other words, before you start spending credit on those shoes or gadget, think to yourself, do I really need this? If the answer is yes, then think of ways where you won’t need to spend money or borrow credit to get that item. Because ultimately, with the technology that’s available to us and how connected we are, we can find access to what we need before having to spend money we don’t have and create debt we may not be able to pay off.

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt

A Tale of Two Sharing Cities: Amsterdam and Taipei

Amsterdam and Taipei are two very different cities. One is located in the liberal heart of Western Europe, while the other sits at the edge of the ocean, and is an Asian city with a very different culture.

Taipei is known for its modernity, it’s food and temperate climate, as well as its geography and unique culture which sets it apart from it’s larger neighbour China. Amsterdam known for its nightlife, its extensive canal system, historic architecture and “coffee-shops” as well as its vibrant culture and as a melting pot of ethnicities and people.

Amsterdam Sharing City

Sharing culture is growing steadily, and becoming an accepted and preferred way of life.

Both however, share a very common factor:

The sharing culture is growing steadily, and becoming an accepted and preferred way of life, and led not only by the government, but with business and civic partners leading the way as well.


Taking a look at Amsterdam, it has been on the cusp of becoming the regions sharing city capital for some years, with sharing start-ups leading the way. Since February 2nd, Amsterdam has officially captured the title of Europe’s first sharing city. This has only been possible due to government participation and effort, as well as sharing start-ups in the city and other normal businesses as well.

This collaborative effort to tackle issues and opportunities faced and presented by becoming a sharing city was only possible with the efforts of all actors involved. The prize? A more socially connected city – as well as a more efficient and enterprising economic landscape for both start-ups, businesses and customers.

As Amsterdam has a local government (as compared to some countries with only federal or country-wide governments) , easing and changing rules and regulations to make the city more friendly to sharing start-ups as well as initiatives is easier. They have also been the world first in developing regulations for AirBnB rental transactions – a key concern amongst locals worldwide.


Bikes in Amsterdam

The sharing economy in Amsterdam is not only confined to home-sharing or ride-sharing, but also includes borrowing platforms, which connects people who need stuff to people who can lend it, much like the libraries of things we covered in a previous article.

It must be understood that while Amsterdam still has some headway to make, bigger businesses like banks and insurance companies in Amsterdam are also looking at how they can utilize the sharing community and the power of collaborative consumption to make the city a more connected, liveable space.

On the other side of the world, in Taiwan and the city of Taipei, the issue of liveability – traffic congestion as well as pollution is a major headache in many Asian metropolises. Regardless of wealth, the amount of cars on roads only increases pollution, and with the ever increasing costs of owning a car, city officials are hard pressed to look for alternative.

The solutions to these problems have been many, and some have worked, and some haven’t. Some countries have banned cars with starting even numbers on their licence plates on even numbered days, and conversely, for starting odd numbered cars on odd numbered days. Others, have imposed fines and heavy tolls for cars entering certain areas at certain times to lower traffic congestion, or raised the cost of a car to astronomically high prices for licences or taxes to limit the number of car owners.

All of these have met with some limited success, to one degree or another. But to take people away from cars doesn’t solve the main problem, that people need transportation that is affordable, yet available and if possible, environmentally friendly.


Enter Taipei’s solution. Taiwanese have always ridden bikes, and they have a culture of bike riding, since their temperature and climate is moderate enough to allow for it.

The Taiwanese have taken it a step further, with the YouBike system, as it is called in English, and informally known as the Taipei bike sharing system.Youbike-Taipei11

The simplicity of the model combined with the availability and widespread use of the bikes are what makes this project an ongoing and longstanding success.

For NT$10, one time users can use the bikes as well as people who buy an EasyCard (a wireless payment card used for public transport). What’s more, EasyCard users get the first 30 minutes ride free to encourage the use of the bikes.

Of course, the EasyCard costs about NT$100 which is roughly USD$3 to purchase. As for non EasyCard holders, every 30 minutes of use costs roughly just USD$0.31! The popularity of the system is attested by the empty stands which hold these bikes – the locals use them so much that they are empty most of the time!

In addition to being affordable as well as being widely distributed, as they can be found outside underground train station exits, as well as busy interchanges and transit points, bikes are given leeway and a special path on most roads in the city as well.

The local government, of course, encourages the use of these bikes, as well as creating regulations to create a safe environment for people who use the bikes.

Again, public and civic cooperation along with business partnerships go a long way to furthering the sharing economy and culture across the globe. Without such cooperation, initiatives are less likely to succeed.

The Wealthy Poor

Ironic isn’t it? How can one be wealthy, yet poor?

Before you think that this is just another post on how society lacks values and morals while it’s so materially rich, read on.

We now are at an age of tremendous material wealth. If you don’t believe this statement, go out to your local mall. Go to the supermarket. look at the vast rows of food, clothes, makeup, consumer electronics and other products. Now, pick something up. Anything will do.

Ask yourself – was this grown or created within 5 miles of this supermarket?

Was it made by someone I know? Could I have made it by myself?

Most of these answers will probably be a resounding, hollow, no.

The question that begs us to answer it – How did we arrive here?

Through many years of mass industrialization, monoculture agriculture, globalization (not always a bad thing) and technological increases, we have made what kings and emperors ate in the medieval ages an everyday occurrence for most of us living in the developed world.

But why are we clad in the finery of kings and emperors, why do we eat like them, yet feel so poor? Was it because we made this system? Was it because we voted for it, rather, in our modern system of democracy, not with our votes at the ballot box, but with our wallets?

With our wallets, with our appetites, and with the things we consume.


Let’s take a look at free choice, consumption patterns, and who is actually responsible for all of this.

By the end of the 20th century, the world had largely recovered from the damage caused by the Second World War. With a lack of crises, threats, or in fact any major global trend or narrative, people started to pursue their own happiness. As a result, many people ended up pursuing creature comforts and the nebulous “good life” at the expense of true pleasure or their own self-defined satisfaction.

With mass production on the rise ever since the dawn of the 19th century (Industrial Revolution), products were now easily available to the common man.

What’s more, with the advent of online shops set up by both independent retailers and brand-name store chains trying to stay relevant, a world of products is now quite literally a few clicks away.

Just like that, the instant gratification offered by purchasing expensive or trendy items is now more than ever easier to obtain.

Ever heard of the term “fast fashion”? Well, it was created in response to the consumer demand for instant gratification. It’s a trend that utilizes quick and affordable manufacturing to cater to a large market at relatively lower prices.

The drawback, of course, is that it has contributed to pollution and poor working conditions in developing countries, in addition to placing an emphasis on very brief trends over classic and enduring styles.

However, the pursuit of happiness is not all there is to this story. As the individual affects the environment, the environment affects the individual. And the environment, especially for the millennials and beyond, looks especially daunting.

How does one even think of buying a house for themselves when property prices have been steadily on the rise, appreciating by 17% as compared to three years ago? Is it even possible to pay off one’s college debt when your tuition fees have increased by up to 25% as compared to ten years ago?

It is no wonder, then, that with the twin shadows of debt and an inability to secure individual housing looming over them, that the millennials have turned to chasing material comforts that are easier to secure, such as that shiny new phone or this new stylish shirt.

This, combined with the twin desires for a better standard of living and a sense of belonging run rampant in the form of consumerism. When a generation cannot find the stability that is their own home, or financial independence, they turn to superficial wealth.

Such consumerism manifests in keeping up with fashion trends and a constant pressure to keep an eye out for the next hip thing. In short, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

But don’t let that get you down! The good news is that as we have created this beast, so we are the ones best suited to slay it.

No, I’m not asking all of you to become ascetics or hermits overnight.

However, what we can do is very simple.

First of all, the most basic step forward is to simply value quality over quantity. What’s the point of getting five clutch bags at ten dollars each when you could just invest in a single bag that’s both respectable and long-lasting. Over time, getting fewer things of higher quality saves money, especially when compared to the mind-set of “I’ll just buy it because it’s cheap!”

Secondly, is to ask questions about labour practices used to create what you are buying. Did your jeans come from a company that uses child labour or provides safe working conditions for its workers? Did the makers of your fancy shoes dump toxic waste straight into some village’s drinking water supply? Ethics is the way forward, and some concern for your fellow man would do well in creating a better world for all of us.

Thirdly and last of all, we should invest in ourselves more. We’re not talking about investing in mere material objects.

No, it’s about experiences and more meaningful relationships. Build up a well of life experiences and memories and make your friendships more meaningful. Don’t spend all your energy on buying new things or making new friends. Invest in stronger relationships with friends you already have and take care and mend your clothes. Grab a coffee with a friend for $5 and have an intimate conversation, we promise it will result in greater happiness that will last much longer than the $5 shirt you may buy at the store.

Perhaps those treasured recollections and that compassion you have fostered for your fellow man, as well as the care you have for yourself in not consuming more than you need, may be the wealth we need the most of all.

The Consumerist Paradox

What does it mean to consume, why, and how does it fit into the system of capitalism based on monetary value as a trade currency, and why it feeds itself to potential undoing.

To start off – we need to look at Malthus and his theories. Thomas Robert Malthus was an English scholar who was most famous for the prediction of his theory of population growth.

Thomas Robert Malthus

His theory of population growth, while straightforward, is chilling and foreseeable, especially since his life and death in the 18th century till now, we have seen his theories at work in some countries.

However, he is commonly mistaken and quoted selectively on certain parts of his writing to be heralded as a doomsday author, as well as being used as a scare tactic.

What we truly are looking at, will be the two most important parts of his writings from his work : An Essay on the Principle of Population. In it, he writes

“Famine seems to be the last, the most dreadful resource of nature. The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.”

— Thomas Malthus, 1798. An Essay on the Principle of Population. Chapter VII, p61

Sounds apocalyptic doesn’t it? It’s not all bad news though, but we should also heed those words. There is part two, a bit further on in his writings-

“The great law of necessity which prevents population from increasing in any country beyond the food which it can either produce or acquire, is a law so open to our view…that we cannot for a moment doubt it. The different modes which nature takes to prevent or repress a redundant population do not appear, indeed, to us so certain and regular, but though we cannot always predict the mode we may with certainty predict the fact.”

— Thomas Malthus, 1798. An Essay on the Principle of Population. Chapter IV.

Get the gist? The summary of this whole series of writings was to identify and acknowledge that the population of a given area, in this case, a nation-state, would be constrained in its growth internally only by its ability to produce and feed its people.

Other factors also come into play of course – such as wars, diseases and famine, but those are not related to patterns of consumption directly, and our modern pattern of consumerism today, so we will not be taking them into account.

The second part states that this (law of population growth restrained by agricultural output) will happen naturally, through means we know, and means that we don’t.

Just keep in mind this happened before the 18th century, and the industrial revolution, the internet, mass assembly lines and even WWII hasn’t happened yet. For many years, people dismissed Malthus’ theories due to increasing technological innovations and the green revolution which enabled countries to feed a lot more people suddenly.

Now, the consumerist paradox is this – are we using so much to the point that we waste so many resources and the system is no longer sustainable. Are we heading ourselves towards starvation?

A very simple example – In certain countries, cars are cheap, to the point where there is at least 1 car for every person who needs to drive. Now, since everyone has one car, and 8o% of the population needs to use the roads in the morning to get to work, the roads get so crowded to the point where it’s pointless to drive. The benefits of driving to work are now outweighed by cost of fuel used stuck in the jam, the time cost wasted in the jam, and due to the extremely long queues and jams, the health costs too, due to the air pollution.

Because of this, people stop using cars to get to work – cars lie idle at home, and people take the bus, take bikes, walk, everything except using cars. Now, the car is a wasted asset, its value plunges. Due to this, car manufacturers go out of business, and other car-related industries and businesses take a hit in their profits and revenues. The money that was spent on purchasing the car could have been invested in better commute infrastructure that would last longer than the car. That is the consumerist paradox.

Now, if you multiply this effect where society uses more than it needs, and resources are wasted – then both intrinsic and monetary value is wasted. Literally, we are wasting our resources and our money.

And if resources are practically diminished to the point where producers cannot meet the demand, and eventually all of it is spent, all money will be worthless since it will not signify any value of any resource of commodity. On a global scale, what’s worse is that a lack of resources will lead to an economic meltdown, which will then lead to consumers consuming less, or not having the ability to consume anymore.

To summarize: if we really like to keep our consumer focused mentality and economy, we need to consume less as a society and waste less so that we can continue consuming!