We must consume less ... and this not just with regards to energy

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

On a finite Planet, such as our Earth is, the very idea of perpetual growth of the economy that we are being indoctrinated to accept is preposterous and it is simply not possible. Period!

While this message is not (going to be) a popular one it must be repeated, however, time and again until people understand the the whys and wherefores of it. It is also a message that the powers-that-be would rather not hear and especially one they wish the people not to hear and heed.

We do not need a (perpetual) growth economy but a resource-based economy and our resources, especially the non-renewable ones, at running out at a rate of knots. Even many of our renewable resources – renewable by right – such as fish stocks, for example, are being depleted faster than they can be replenished due to extreme over-fishing and bad fishery practices. Timber is being felled to be made into (EURO) shipping pallets the great majority of which are but used once and then discarded and on and on this story goes.

We have to consume less (and learn to make do with what we have) rather than wanting more and more and bigger and bigger still. Products are designed and made in such a way that they have to be replaced shortly after the warranty on them has run out – if they come with one – and all in the name of economic growth, though we better read this as “in the name of profit for the capitalists”.

Just in Autumn 2014 the British electricity generating companies announced that they may have problems in keeping the lights on in the country for Winter 2014/2015 as they have less than 4% spare capacity. While there may be some other reasons for this announcement that just our energy demand fact is that we must reduce our energy consumption and if we reduce other consumption too then this will also reduce energy consumption in general.

As far as reduction of energy consumption goes it must not just be concentrated at our homes, as government keeps doing, but especially at reduction of energy consumption in industry and commerce, as well as government offices and establishments, and that means turning off the lights in our offices, buildings and shops at the end of the working day and the lights in the shop front window by 10pm latest.

But, as said already, it is not just a reduction in energy consumption by us all that is needed. A reduction in all consumption is called for.

The powers-that-be, however, governments, industry, et al, are trying to convince the people all that we must consume more, more and then still more in order for us all to live better lives. What they really mean so that the capitalists can have ever bigger profits, but they don't say that. Talking of moronic does not even cover this stupidity. On top of that people who want to exit the consumption madness are likened by them for not supporting economic growth.

We need, as individuals and countries, learn to live within the limits of a finite Planet and its resources and indeed below those limits and not trying to live on the resources of two Earths. There is but one.

Living within the limits of the Planet and its resources means reducing consumption and making do with less, especially as regards to material things. Using the things we have until there is really no way of using them any further.

But as things cannot be repaired more often than not today due to the built-in obsolescence extending the life of our possessions, especially our electric and electronic goods, is not easy. That is why we must demand a change in attitude and production and demand that goods are made (again) in such a way that they can be repaired and thus live, as many things did not so long ago, forty or more years productively. It can be done because it was once done, and that not all that long ago even.

The best way to do something about our consumption is to buy well-made products and that wherever possible from local (as local as possible) producers. And, while this may be somewhat more expensive the goods will, in general, be better made and repairable if and when something goes wrong.

Also simplifying things will make for better purchases and a longer life of the product. Far too many products of whatever kind almost are too sophisticated for their own – and our – good. In order to use many, especially electrical and electronic products today one almost needs a degree in computer sciences and for repair, if one can get the things open, a doctorate in electronics.

Furthermore employing reuse and upcycling will cut our consumption also especially when we can make things we need and/or want from and for almost nothing. Oh, but I must not say such things, I am encouraging economic terrorism.

While some people take the step of a total strike as far as buying new things or buying things altogether this is not a step we will have to, necessarily, take but taking the route of Voluntary Poverty is one that is not just a good idea but one that we will have to take, and in the end it will not be voluntary anymore.

That means doing with less, a lot less, of always new stuff and making do with what we have, be that our clothes or our computers and cellphones, and also getting used to, as our grandparents and their parents did, reuse and upcycle and to make things for ourselves. Not a popular move but a necessary one.

© 2015