Consumption & Waste


living within our means

We live on a finite planet: there is only so much "stuff" we can consume before it runs out. This is true not just for oil but for things like potash for agriculture and molybdenum for computers and aircraft. While we can often find replacements when resources become too scarce or expensive, these increasingly come at greater environmental and social cost — and finding enough of any resource is increasingly difficult for an exponentially-growing global population. Plus, there is no "away" where we can throw things on the planet: municipal landfills fill up, toxic substances leach into our soil and groundwater, and even small bits of plastic accumulate in the ocean.

Fortunately, human history is full of examples of highly-developed civilizations living in balance with their available resources. And in the modern world, we know how to create many things we need from renewable resources, and change manufacturing processes so that little is wasted and much is easily reusable or recyclable. As with so many other 21st century crises, it's a challenge not so much of technology as of political and economic will.

videos

Bill Rees - Why Degrowth?

length: 35:43   credit: The Extraenvironmentalist

Post Carbon Fellow Bill Rees recorded in April at the Vancouver Degrowth Event on why degrowth is the only realistic path to sustainability.

Watch the Q&A for this event

more videos

associated fellows

latest related publications

West-Slope Colorado Towns Restore Local Flows, Even as Thirsty Front-Range Lawns Drink From their Rivers

Sandra Postel and Todd Reeve    Jul 15, 2014   

The Roaring Fork River, a headwater tributary in the Colorado Basin, adds to the beauty and economic vitality of Aspen, Colorado. Photo credit: Grand River Consulting for the Colorado Water … >>

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Want to Change the World? Read This First

Richard Heinberg    Jun 16, 2014   

  History is often made by strong personalities wielding bold new political, economic, or religious doctrines. Yet any serious effort to understand how and why societies change requires … >>

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CULTURE AND BEHAVIOR: Dangerously Addictive: Why We Are Biologically Ill-Suited to the Riches of Modern America

Peter Whybrow

EXCERPT: But living now in relative abundance, when the whole world is a shopping mall and our appetites are no longer constrained by limited resources, our craving for reward--be that for … >>

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The ENERGY Reader

Daniel Lerch Richard Heinberg Bill McKibben David Fridley David Hughes Gloria Flora Wes Jackson

What magic, or monster, lurks behind the light switch and the gas pump? Where does the seemingly limitless energy that fuels modern society come from? From oil spills, nuclear accidents, … >>

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