We are mistaking wants for needs and it is costing us the world

As consumers, we always want more, and we are very good at justifying these wants as needs. I discuss how to separate wants from needs, why it is important in a world on the cusp of irreversible climate breakdown, and why we urgently need to want less.

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The downsides of convenience

The modern society wants us to be productive, to optimise, to fit more into a day. Slowing down is thought of as a weakness, something to look down upon.

Consider a Monday conversation at the office, where your colleague asks what you did over the weekend. The reaction is to rattle off a list, to recall each activity, to talk about the quantity of things we did. The more the better; otherwise your weekend must have been a waste.

Bigger Better Faster More
How about Smaller, Enough, Slower, Less?

A key to fitting in more is choosing convenience. Convenience is sold as the solution to help with our busy lives, and it comes in many shapes and forms.

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On embodied emissions, exploitation and the unsustainability of consumer products

One core feature of globalised capitalism is that supply and demand, production and consumption are geographically separated. Consumers buying physical products have very little visibility into the supply chain and the participating organisations beyond the maker (the public brand) and the seller (the place of purchase). As consumers, we tend to stick with the story crafted by marketing and advertising, and assessing the sustainability of a product beyond this superficial understanding is a challenge we are not encouraged to take on.

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Undo capitalism or it will undo us

Let’s start with an assumption:

We want to live meaningful lives on a healthy planet and we want the generations to come to be able to do the same.

And a related definition of true sustainability (Ehrenfeld 2009):

[Sustainability is] the possibility that humans and other life will flourish on the planet forever

We are currently using 1.7 Earths each year. This means that ‘we use more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate, through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than ecosystems can absorb’ (source).

Our current way of life is deeply unsustainable.

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Technology and the tragedy of quiet as a commons

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash
Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

This post is about noise. It follows us everywhere, and there are lots of it.

I am writing this in the middle of Melbourne at an open-plan office where the floors above and the property next door have been renovated for months. Drilling, grinding, banging, hacking, boring, buzzing, sawing.

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