Friday, April 27, 2007
Consumption with a conscience
Do you care about your world? Do you care about making it a better place? Many of you will probably answer yes. I'll even go further and say that many of you will say yes but the demanding needs of one's life take over. I'm in that camp as well. When I was living in Canada and the U.S. I drove my car practically everywhere. I rarely recycled. And, my day consisted of being consumed by my work, my family and my friends. Now living in London, I don't drive a car. Instead, I take public transport. If I'm being completely honest, it's not by choice. No parking! To make matters worse I travel A LOT. I shudder to think what kind of carbon footprint I'm leaving with the frequent flights I take. I still don't recycle. And my day still consists of being consumed by my work, my family and my friends. There's one difference though. Now I wonder what more I could be doing to change my world instead of simply existing in it. Environmentally and socially.

I probably won't stop traveling on planes any time soon because 1) my job requires me to do so and 2) how else does one become more aware of the world around us? I could start recycling (in fact, I should). I know that if I were to buy a car it would be a hybrid because they are fuel-efficient. For those of you who care about the luxury aesthetics of a vehicle, Lexus and BMW have some hybrid models you should check out. As for the changing the world -- the first step is actually being aware of life beyond your front door. Rahul Bose, a successful actor and activist in India, said passion is not about just being angry at all that's wrong with the world but it's about being angry and wanting to do something about it.

It all starts with one person. The people I meet on Art of Life constantly inspire me. Not only because of what they have been able to accomplish professionally but also how they are giving back to society. Changing their world the way they know how. Take Carlos Miele for example. I like to call him "The Fashion Designer With Heart." I met him on a recent trip to New York and I was so touched by how deeply he feels about his fellow Brazilians and how much he wanted to change their lives for the better. Miele grew up in a poor neighborhood in Sao Paolo and he saw how hard life was for those around him. He considers himself one of the lucky ones where his parents worked hard to give him a good education so he could get out of that cycle of poverty. The pride he has for his culture is reflected in the clothing he designs, which are recognized globally. The intricate detail on the fabrics and hand embroidery are Brazilian-inspired and indigenous by nature. But frustrated by the government -- and who he called "the elite" -- in Brazil for the lack of social services for the millions living in the favelas, or shantytowns, Miele took matters into his own hands and started hiring women in these areas to help create the beautiful designs that are now worn by celebrities worldwide. As a result these women are employed, they are making money for themselves and their families, and they are feeling a sense of self-worth.

Miele's success isn't only his. It's the people who work with him who help create his brand. He may not have conquered the world but he has changed the world for the few hundred women he has employed. It's people like Miele who make me feel that even I can do something. I may not know exactly what that something is right now but I'm hoping the more people like Miele I can meet the more inspired and closer to the answer I will be.

Watch the program: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

The Art of Life show on luxury spending airs on Saturday May 26 at 11:30 and 17:30; Sunday May 27 at 07:30, 13:30 and 18:30; and Monday May 28 at 13:30 and 17:30. ALL TIMES GMT.
Posted By Monita: Friday, April 27, 2007
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CNN anchor Monita Rajpal blogs about her experiences filming the "Art of Life" show.

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