Enough’s Enough: Buying More Stuff Isn’t Always the Answer to Happiness
Anthony James , 5 Jan 17
       

Greg Foyster, Author provided

The average German household contains 10,000 items. That’s according to a study cited by Frank Trentmann in his sweeping history of consumption, Empire of Things. We’re “bursting”, he says, with the amount of stuff that we have - while all of this consumption is steeping us in debt and dangerously depleting the planet’s resources and systems.

So after Christmas, and the Boxing Day sales, it seems like a good time to ask: what is the purpose of all this consumption?

The consumption cake

If consumption is about facilitating quality of life, then quantities of money, materials, energy and so on are merely ingredients. They’re not the end product.

If I was baking a cake, would it make sense to use as many ingredients as possible? Of course not.

Yet “more is better” remains the narrative of modern society, and therefore of the economic system we use to make it happen. This makes sense while there is a sustainable correlation between quality of life and material resources consumed.

But this correlation is weakening. There is growing evidence that we are on a trajectory of diminishing returns on quality of life. A growing spate of titles such as Affluenza, Stuffocation and How Much is Enough? speak to the phenomenon.

Yet in the midst of unprecedented wealth, and unprecedented threats (from climate change and mass extinction, to inequality and social fragmentation), is the opportunity to move on to better things – to move beyond the consumer machine, and gear the future economy towards what we are really after in life.

So what are we baking? And what are the optimal amounts of ingredients we need?

Sign in to view full article

       
Searching Deep and Dark: Building A Google for The Less Visible Parts of The Web
In today’s data-rich world, companies, governments and individuals want to analyze anything and everything they can get their hands on ...
Christian Mattmann
Wed, 11 Jan 17
Far Beyond Crime-Ridden Depravity, Darknets Are Key Strongholds of Freedom of Expression Online
The internet is much more than just the publicly available, Google-able web services most online users frequent – and that’s ...
Roderick S. Graham
Wed, 1 Feb 17
How Robots Can Help Us Embrace a More Human View of Disability
When dealing with the otherness of disability, the Victorians in their shame built huge out-of-sight asylums, and their legacy of ...
Thusha Rajendran
Tue, 9 May 17
Why are We More Likely to Get Cancer as We Age?
This article is part of our series on older people’s health. It looks at the changes and processes that occur ...
Stuart Pitson
Wed, 1 Feb 17
Why Multilingualism is Good For Economic Growth
If your strategy is to trade only with people that speak English that’s going to be a poor strategy.
Gabrielle Hogan-Brun
Mon, 6 Feb 17
An Epoch Times Survey
Sports Elements
An Epoch Times Survey
Read about Forced Organ Harvesting
Sports Elements
Sports Elements