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

Share Spray: A New Way To Do Everything

length: 5:34   credit: The Sharing Solution and the Center for a New American Dream

The Sharing Solution and the Center for a New American Dream have launched a new 5-minute animation: Share Spray — A New Way To Do EverythingWith creativity, charm, and a bit of fun, Share Spray explores how sharing could transform our lives and neighborhoods. Written by Janelle Orsi.

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latest related publications

Putting Boundries on Selling Stuff

Bill Sheehan    Jan 07, 2014   

I was asked recently about my “theory of change” in the light of ever-increasing power of corporations that put profits ahead of sustainability of people and the planet. I agree that … >>

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How Palm Oil in Everything From Food to Fuel Is Killing Orangutans and Exacerbating Climate Change

Leslie Moyer    Nov 22, 2013   

By Mike Gaworecki, Leslie Moyer - originally published at Alternet Palm oil. It’s the ubiquitous additive in everything from soaps and lotions to cookies and diet foods. It’s found in … >>

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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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