It’s finals week over here, which explains the scarcity of posts – I am spending most if not all of my time glued to Excel spreadsheets and Word documents, trying to make convincing cases to save Ecuador’s rain forests and re-energize the Mexican agricultural sector, and then there are exams as well, sigh! But I do have a thought-provoking read for you today, even if I haven’t written it myself.
I have recently thought a lot about what my Masters’ thesis will be about, and have pretty much nailed it down to sustainable consumption behavior and the impact of behavioral (most likely dietary) changes, taking into consideration rebound effects – the effects that come when you spend less money on one environmentally harmful activity, but then turn around and spend it on something else instead that could have even more dire consequences. This is likely to happen in one way or another as long as you earn the same amount of money – which means that in order to truly change our environmental foot print (and potentially be happier in consequence), we should cut down on working hours in conjunction with cutting down on consumption and enjoy more free time doing free things, rather than spending the little offtime we have doing and buying expensive things.
This is hard to do, however, as David Cain explored in 2010 when he came back to his 9-to-5 after traveling around the world for 9 months. Read his article – “Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed” – and think about how you would ideally spend your days – do you currently do that?
Bonus: As a response to comments generated on the original article, many of which criticized that he should be happy to have a job at all and not complain about the need to work 40 hours at a time, David penned another piece on “Using Your Privilege” just a couple of days ago. This passage strongly reverberated with me:
Imagine, for a moment, that the internet-using class of the Western world is, right now, experiencing the peak of human civilization — that there will never be more opportunity, for the typical citizen, for making a great life than there currently is. The typical Westerner has never been more privileged, never had such a well-paved path to personal greatness and fulfillment. And imagine that during an era of incredible technology and possibility, most of these privileged people continued to overspend, underachieve, complain, and fill their time with minimal-return activities like watching reality television.
He goes on to encourage us to “use our privilege” to live the life we truly want, since the opportunities we are offered are pretty much endless. And yes, that is an oversimplification to a certain extent, and he does realize that there are many others that are disenfranchised or not as privileged as others, but argues for then actually being grateful for the privileges you are awarded with by making use of them.
I would add just one more thing – having the privileges we do (as he notes, “depending (slightly) on where you live, it has probably never been safer to say what you want to say, to find an audience for your ideas, to start your own business, to wear what you want, to go where you want and to love who you want“), we should also have the responsibility to stand up for those who don’t, and turn our privilege into empathy and solidarity rather than perpetuating a cycle of a widening gap between the have-too-muchs and the have-nots.
What are your thoughts?