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Consumption Is Inversely Proportional to Quality of Life


In the video below Joe Romm, chief editor at Climate Progress, interviews Paul Gilding, former executive director of Greenpeace International and author of the book The Great Disruption.

There’s a lot that’s of interest in the interview. Gilding talks about how continuing our current levels of consumption will spell global disaster, and how reducing our levels of consumption will lead to a better economy and a greater quality of life. He puts it this way: if you consume 10% less, that’s 5 weeks you can take off work every year.

The government and most analysts measure our economy’s health by how much we consume. This way of thinking is proving increasingly destructive.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. John Erickson permalink
    10/15/2011 4:37 PM

    I will definitely admit you can live easily without as much as business wants you to have. My computer is more than 2 years old, my TV is neither LCD nor plasma, and most of our other “consumer goods” are far from cutting edge. (I understand the idea of buying newer items for better efficiency.)
    The biggest gripe I have is the “throw away” nature of so much. I have a number of fans (both stand and floor models) that should have been thrown away and replaced at least twice. I’ve taken them apart, simply oiled a few bearings, and brought them back to life numerous times. But that talent is thanks to my father, who lived through the Great Depression and became “handy” due to economic need. Most people wouldn’t know how to just disassemble and oil the fans, so they’d be thrown away. Ditto a number of household appliances that I’ve fixed a poorly made cord, or repaired a too-cheap switch. If the items we bought were built to a higher standard, we would consume far less. (Though I know these items’ cheapness ts driven by consumer demand for inexpensive goods.)

    • 10/16/2011 9:09 PM

      I’m a bit torn about my laptop. It’s around 6 years old, meaning I’ve resisted the urge to buy a new one this long. But I read recently that computer energy efficiency doubles every 18 months–at the same rate processing power does. So maybe it would be greener to buy a new one as soon as I can.

      I hate the throw-away mentality, too. If I buy something, I make sure it’s something I’ll use, and I try to buy quality. There’s a conflict here as well, though–I also hate hoarding things. So I find myself getting rid of stuff a lot, but I normally give it away or try to sell it.

      Being handy, I think, will become increasingly valuable as the economies become more local. Trading skills/services for goods, like we discussed recently, is bound to become more popular. I’d like to become more handy. Wine and beer making–I bet that would be a hit!

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