Monday, September 24, 2007

Less and Local

A week ago, the International Forum on Globalization put on a three day teach in entitled "Confronting the Global Triple Crisis - Climate Change, Peak Oil, Global Resource Depletion & Extinction" in Washington, D.C. The teach-in also introduced the "Manifesto on Global Economic Transitions" by the IFG and the Institute for Policy Studies.

The Manifesto's theme was "less and local," stressing the need to turn aways from the consumer society; buy fewer things and buy locally made things.

"Less and local" is a direct challenge to the globalized economic system, rooted in continual, exponential growth, combined with unrestrained exploitation of natural resources. Globalization has given us a near universal culture of consumerism while destroying traditional societies that practiced more sustainable ways of living.

The corporate response to these growing concerns has been to market "green consumerism," selling items that pedal an environmental appeal by donating money to environmental groups which will offset the greenhouse gasses created in making the product.

The problem is that this solution does nothing to slow the exploitation of natural resources with its consequent devastation of the land.

In Europe, a new production analysis is gaining hold, called "life-cycle assessment" which examines the materials and processes that go into making a product to gain a true picture of its environmental footprint, and hopefully to reinvent the production cycle as a zero waste process.

The "less and local" philosphy is an important first step toward a powered-down, zero waste economy. It is a necessary replacement to the shopping mentality that reigns today.


At 10:38 PM, Blogger eugene said...

"Less and local" is indeed an important step towards sustainability. A similar concept is sufficiency - no more no less. This is different from the current emphasis on efficiency - do more with less. We have to first ask ourselves whether we need something before buying it. If we don't need it, then we can forget about buying it. If we really need it, then we buy a greener or more efficient one.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Luis said...

definitely we have to study and balance our standards. In that aspects it becomes a matter of making a lot of small changes around our very own world, until one day we find out that the world has radically changed.

German architect Mies used to say "less is more".

Let's go do it.


At 4:47 PM, Blogger Deltacang said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1:05 PM, Blogger Eric McNulty said...

I asked this exact question at a conference addressing clean and green innovation: with more and more products have shorter lifecycles (televisions, computers, cell phones, refrigerators -- you name it and we're getting new ones more often than previous generations), how to you reconcile between the drive of companies to provide "new and improved" products with the need to consume less. A five year old computer works but it is pretty darned slow. Cell phone providers provide incentives for a trade in every two years so that you can have a phone that supports their profitable new services. Appliances are now fashion accessories.

It's going to take a real crisis to change this dynamic (not that our current isn't a crisis, but celebrity shenanigans still make more news that climate change day to day). Maybe the fires and droughts will finally wake up the average consumer.

At 10:02 PM, Blogger said...

Yes, of course, less and local is always better but for those of us that don't grow our coffee or can't make our clothes, fair trade is as sustainable as it gets.

I wrote a post about it on


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