The economics of less stuff and better lives.

Author:Ikari, Ben Wuloo

My approach to discussing the importance of producing less for a better life is simplistic, but critical. Production is a process of making things such as food or clothing. Goods and services are created and distributed to consumers. We are usually more aware of the large corporations involved in manufacturing. But in a simple sense, it involves all of us, because the machines or equipment in these companies don't operate themselves; human beings operate them.

In theory, consumers decide what they purchase. For instance, if a producer manufactures clothing that consumers don't want or need, merchants will return it. If articulated and channeled, consumers' refusal to purchase goods influences production strategy. Therefore, consumers should have quite an influence on what a producer creates.

In practice, we don't seem to have this power because we don't know how strong our influence is and we neglect to use it. What happens when one has something and doesn't know or appreciate it, or ignores and doesn't apply what he/she has, especially wisdom? It means he or she doesn't have that thing. We have power in a broad sense to control what we buy or use. We however allow companies to package things at their discretion and we send them our money. We put their junk in our houses looking at the emptiness of it while the money goes to these companies that continuously produce what we don't really need. They gain twice, even thrice, when we recycle this junk to them--they return it back to us as less quality junk that causes more and more health problems to our children and degrades the environment. The production of oil; petrochemical, food processing, pharmaceutical, auto and other production/manufacturing industries' goods are environmentally unfriendly to say the least.

Therefore, to reduce production, we have to be introspective; we should individually look inwardly and ask ourselves, "How am I contributing to the problem of overproduction that is harming the environment and harming me?" The answer will come quickly; it will be in the form of, "Oh, by my daily activities." Then, another question will surface in the form of, "How do I reduce my consumption of goods and services to help reduce mass production and sustain the global environment?"

And the answer will be: endeavor not to buy more than you need. Even when you buy to help the needy, buy only those quantities and qualities that are needed for that purpose alone. Most times we shop for...

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