simple living waste wealth

Waste and the definition of affluence

Yesterday’s post about waste was from a developing world point of view, but I read an interesting counterpoint last night. It’s from Mark Burch, writing on the idea of Sufficiency for the Simplicity Institute.

“The very goal of consumer culture, which is universal affluence, ignores the definition of affluence which is ‘more than enough; abundance; excess beyond need.’ If we think about it, that which is beyond what is needed can only be one thing: waste.”

Under that definition, it’s little wonder that in an affluent society, we waste a third away of the food we buy and a third of the energy used to heat our homes, or that we have a landfill shortage and an obesity problem. This is all evidence of our success, if affluence is to be our goal.

That’s why we need a better understanding of good living, and a definition of wealth that is healthier for the planet and fairer to those who don’t yet have what they need.

4 comments

  1. I witnessed a stark example of this on my recent mission trip to belize. They do not even have landfills. There is no need. No junkyards, no used car lots, nothing to deal with their excess, because there is none. It is not because they are a third world country, becasue they are not. They have technology similar to what we have in america, but an overwhelming desire to accumulate is not present. They acquire what is necessary to sustain their life and reuse everything they can.

  2. Jeremy – Does Belize have a better understanding of good living, and a definition of wealth that is healthier for the planet and fairer to those who don’t yet have what they need?

      1. Since it is agreed that we need a better understanding, perhaps we ought to take a good look at them to see if Joe is correct and what examples they may have to offer? I urge you 🙂

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