Thursday, December 1, 2011

Take only what you need

Professor Tim Jackson from the University of Surrey has, as part of the Sustainable Development Commission for the UK, published a remarkable report about "Prosperity without Growth". He outlines problems of our current system of rampant consumerism and shows possible ways out of this economically and ecologically flawed a approach.

Our market-driven model is entirely predicated on continued growth, which inevitably has to finds its end at some point. Resources such as fossil fuels become more scarce very quickly and the ecological footprint of growth brings our planet to its knees.
Growth has delivered its benefits very unequally within societies and across countries. Also, the blind belief in consumerism as a credo doesn't really raise people's happiness, in fact it it brings about a feeling of emptiness and "affluenza". I recommend at least reading the first introduction pages to get an idea of Jackson's work.

Now, as we enter the high season of consumerism called "the holidays", maybe we should ponder if Black Friday violence isn't a tell-tale sign that something isn't quite right with the social status we associate with mere "stuff". My personal recommendation for the Christmas Season this year (again) is to take action against deforestation and protect an acre of rainforest with Conservation International. Or just spend good old quality time with someone. In any case more meaningful than yet another unloved plastic toy or tech gizmo du jour.

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