I'd like to hear how you've reduced your own personal consumption in order to provide more for other people.
A few fairly simple pointers, most of which could be readily adopted by most folk, would be
> Conserve space
by preferencing apartment blocks, townhouses or even just smaller houses/yards over sprawling suburban mini-mansions. In general that'll reduce energy consumption for heating/cooling, reduce transport/fossil fuel usage through more compact cities, and hopefully reduce almost all material consumption through the tendency to clutter (rather than artificial need to 'fill') more reasonably-sized living spaces.
> Reduce meat consumption
, especially seafood and beef, for their devastating environmental impacts and the effect on global food prices of such wildly inefficient use of limited agricultural land.
> Reduce fuel consumption
by using public transport, biking or walking. This also saves money and is healthier both for you and for everyone's air quality. In well designed cities pretty much no-one should need a personal car; as things stand some people (particularly those with small children) may need one, in which case fuel efficient/electric vehicles can be prioritized and still used sparingly/shared among families. (In terms of government policy, registration fees should be based on miles traveled as well as vehicle type to remove the perverse incentive of "I'm paying for it so may as well get the most out of it.")
> Reduce energy consumption
by using fans or sweaters instead of air conditioning where possible, using fewer and more energy efficient appliances and turning things off when not in use.
> Replace things only when needed
, not just because a company released an 'improved' model. Avoid brands which don't last.
> Obviously, reduce, reuse and recycle
in general. Check out local thrift shops, swap meets etc.
> Boycott the idiot tradition of giving material 'gifts,' especially store-bought, for birthdays, Christmas etc
. Give your presence instead of presents, or for those truly suckered into the notion that how much you care is measured by what you give, why not truly embrace that notion and just give cash?
> Give more to international aid/development charities
like Oxfam, Red Cross, World Vision etc. For most of my 20s I was devoting more of my income to a single luxury for myself (alcohol) than to help my fellow human beings in desperate need around the world. What kind of person does that? Probably most of us in one way or another... but if anything that makes it all the worse.
This is the same mistake Thomas Malthus made:
Sorry, are you pretending that our planet is not finite? Some resources are renewable (although many of those, most devastatingly marine life
, are being depleted at wildly unsustainable rates), for others the efficiency of usage can be improved (eg. skyscrapers allowing for more compact cities, fertilizers allowing greater crop yields) and for some resources the quantity available on the planet's surface is far more than we'll ever use (eg. coal, which would last almost three millennia at current usage rates even if we weren't well on the way to cooking the planet). None of that changes the fact that consumption at the scale of current human civilization is devastating or depleting even some seemingly inexhaustible resources.
It may be little more than grains of weathered rock, and can be found on deserts and beaches around the world, but sand is also the world’s second most consumed natural resource.
Of course those are only doom and gloom facts if they are ignored; if we decide that neoliberal dogma is a better way of organizing our societies than observational science and actively adapting our behaviour to avert the likely problems. Human civilizations for nigh on ten thousand years have known
that their worlds and their access to resources were limited. They haven't always adapted appropriately, and sometimes have been devastated by changing climates or circumstances in spite of their best efforts: But it's only been in the past century or two that we've seen a widespread acceptance of this remarkable fantasy that our planet isn't
finite, that there aren't
any limits to how much we can use and consume. It's really quite mind-boggling that this delusion has spread so much during the period that both our scientific understanding of those limits and our consumption of those resources have increased exponentially; a consequence perhaps of the dual factors of a) endless advertising and mind-numbing saturation of capitalist consumerist culture and b) the fact that we in wealthy countries don't
have to deal with daily scarcity for the most part, living instead in our comfortable bubbles where it really does seem
like everything is limitless for those with the money to buy it.