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Currently Browsing: Overconsumption

Ted Trainer and the Simpler Way

Ted Trainer is one of the wisest, boldest, and most dedicated advocates of The Simpler Way.  In 2010 he published a book called, The Transition to a Sustainable and Just World, and I have to say that it is one of the best books I have ever read in my life. If you only have time to read one more book in your life, consider reading this one. It speaks directly to our global situation and condition, and it... read more

How to Win the Wilberforce Award: The Problem is Overconsumption not Overpopulation

There are now many credible scientific studies establishing that the global economy is exceeding, by some way, the regenerative and absorptive capacities of Earth’s ecosystems. One way to understand this defining problem of our age, and perhaps move towards its resolution, is to look at the problem of overpopulation. The planet is in such a dire situation, it can be argued, because there are just too... read more

We are not Machines: The Parable of Sufficiency

Let me define a machine very broadly as something incapable of thought that reacts predictably to a given stimulus. Take a vending machine, for example. Someone puts money in, pushes certain buttons, and without thinking about it, the machine distributes the goods selected. Now imagine another type of machine – a robot. Suppose every time this robot has an opportunity to acquire money it does so and then... read more

An Introduction to Peak Oil: Some Online Resources

For some time I have been interested in the notion of peak oil, but recently I have had the opportunity to research quite extensively on the subject. I am currently working on an essay about peak oil and its implications for high consumption lifestyles, but presently I would just like to share some of the best online resources (articles, videos, and websites) that I have discovered in my research. Before... read more

Money, Stuff, and the Deathbed Experiment

If you’d excuse the rather confronting title, I’d like to invite you to undertake what I call the ‘Deathbed Experiment.’ It’s simple and goes like this: Imagine you are on your deathbed and someone asks you: “What attitudes defined your life?” What would you want to be able to say? This thought experiment never fails to move me in some way, and I always feel that it moves me in the right... read more

Consume More or Work Less?

Rethinking attitudes to work is central to the way many participants in the Simplicity Movement approach simple living.[1] Charles Siegel poses the critical question: ‘Should we take advantage of our increasing productivity to consume more or to have more free time?’[2] If people keep raising their material standard of living every time they come into more money – through a pay rise, for example, or... read more

Defining Voluntary Simplicity

Voluntary simplicity is an oppositional living strategy that rejects the high-consumption, materialistic lifestyles of consumer cultures and affirms what is often just called ‘the simple life’ or ‘downshifting.’[1] Sometimes called ‘the quiet revolution,’[2] this approach to life involves providing for material needs as simply and directly as possible, minimizing expenditure on consumer goods... read more

The Voluntary Simplicity Movement in an Age of Commodity Fetishism

In the developed regions of the world today, such as North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, etc., decades of unprecedented economic growth have all but solved the economic problem of how to secure the necessaries of life and, indeed, have resulted in most people living lives of relative luxury and comfort.[1] Though a small residue of poverty remains in these regions, on the whole... read more

Will Science and Technology make Consumer Lifestyles Sustainable?

Aside from blaming over-population, a second mainstream response to the ecological crisis is to claim that science and technology will save the planet.[1] From this perspective, rather than focusing on reducing consumption or population, what primarily needs to happen is for scientific or technological advancements to make the production of commodities more efficient; that is, to make commodities... read more

A Scientific Review of the Ecological Impacts of Overconsumption

The last post suggested that living more simply will be a necessary part of any transition to an ecologically sustainable society. To support the contention that current consumption patterns are unsustainable, and that low-consumption lifestyles are necessary, here is a brief scientific review of the ecological impacts of economic activity today. The Living Planet Report 2008,[1] based on the... read more
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