Consumption in a Steady State Economy

In a steady state economy, people consume enough to meet their needs and lead meaningful, joyful lives without undermining the life-support systems of the planet. They choose to consume energy and materials responsibly, conserving, economizing, and recycling where appropriate. Conspicuous consumption becomes a thing of the past. Citizens (yes citizens, not consumers) recognize the culture of materialism as a bankrupt ideology and a poor path to happiness. They forget about trying to accumulate evermore stuff, instead focusing on more worthwhile pursuits. Personal and societal decisions about how much to consume take into account sustainability principles and the needs of future generations.

Child and Guitar

More of this…

Building relationships and value
through less consumptive activities.

Image credit: Midiman


Continuously Growing Consumption

We can’t consume our way to sustainability. Ever increasing consumption is not possible over the long haul, nor is it desirable. History is rife with examples of failed societies that didn’t pay attention to the limits of growth in consumption. Any system that continuously increases its consumption of resources (e.g., yeast in vat, a human body, or an economy) meets an unpleasant end. Are we smarter than yeast?

Massive Container Freighter Ship MSC in the Santa Barbara Channe

Less of that…

Unsustainable quantities of stuff circling
the globe to pursue evermore consumption.

Image credit: Mikebaird


Exemplary Consumption Ideas

The Center for a New American Dream helps U.S. citizens consume responsibly to protect the environment, enhance quality of life, and promote social justice. The center has all sorts of commendable ideas about conscientious consumption.