This week a friend passed onto me an interesting little film called The story of stuff. If you've got a spare 20 minutes it is worth watching. You can watch it below or download it here. The download is probably a better option if you have a slow connection.
I'm no scientist so I'll leave the environmental claims right alone. As a sociology student, what I found facinating is the way in which our society has deliberately been molded to create a consumer culture. It is illogical how often we buy new stuff when we still have old stuff that works fine. At this time of year people get particurly sucked into the compulsion to buy too much. As you shop this Christmas (and afterwards too) it is worth slowing down and considering whether you are buying what you are because you have a genuine need or use for it or just because you've been taught to keep on buying. The extra stuff you would be buying probably won't make you happy for long, but not being in debt and being able to help others because you didn't buy stuff you didn't need probably will.