There’s not enough to go around…or?

Posted on April 8, 2013


One argument I’ve heard many times against the idea of making everything you’d need to live a good life accessible to everybody for free, is that there’s not enough resources on the planet for everybody to live according to the western society model. There are a few assumptions made with this answer. First of all, if every human being on the planet would live like we do in the western world, with the current system of production, waste management, social norms, perpetuate need for businesses to grow, then no, the resources would not be enough. We are currently over producing basically everything and we’re also making new versions of almost every product out there, every year or so. Businesses have to produce huge quantities, often more than what is demanded, and marketing departments are making sure we get the message that we need and should keep consuming. Businesses are coming up with all kinds of ways to improve their sales and extend their markets. The most expensive thing for any industry is to shut down their production lines, so no matter if someone would buy all their stuff or not, doesn’t really matter at that point. It’s not the production departments problem, it’s the sales departments. With this focus on production for the sake of businesses wellbeing, instead of peoples well being and genuine needs, it is impossible to expand that model to the level where every body could consume the same amount of stuff that we are and at the same rate. The majority of stuff that we consume today aren’t things we need, it’s things we want or been manipulated into wanting.

Another assumption that is made here is also that every human being on the planet wants to live their life according to the western society model. This simply isn’t true. There’s a lot of people who want to live a simple life and many of them who live in the western society unfortunately get swooped away with everybody else in the consumption frenzy. There’s also a lot of cultures around the globe who already live a very simple close to nature life and want to keep it that way, but are forced of their lands and have their way of life disrupted by big industries trying to use the land for their own commercial interests. I will write a separate post on this topic, regarding what we really want in life.

In this new model of society production systems would have to be adjusted for completely different goals than they are today. Produce on demand, allowing industries to stand still when there’s no demand, and make products last as long as possible, make them easy to upgrade if needed, create better services to maintain and fix broken products, question the need for the product in the first place (like one time use plastic cups) etc. The problem now isn’t really that there isn’t enough resources. The problem is that we are exploiting them and using more than we would actually need to if we had a different perspective on what should be mass produced, how to produce it and how to recycle or reuse it when the products life is over. Ask yourself this, how many products can you think of around you in your home and city, which only purpose is for a business to make money?
Here are a few I’ve noticed myself: Freebies and give aways of all kinds (not directly leading to revenues but does wonders for marketing purposes), different skins and cases for phones, all merchandises from movies, concerts and games, kinder egg toys, Mac Donald toys, phones that don’t last longer than 2 years, the majority of one time use products, several hundred different kinds of candy, thousands of novelty products such a the cheese hat, the million variteties of Christmas decorations and have to have Christmas specific cups, lights and pillows, valentines teddy bears etc. It makes me nauseous just thinking about it.
Seriously, do we really need all of this?
Would we cry blood if it all disappeared tomorrow and never came back into production?
There’s nothing wrong with products for the pure purpose of having fun, but I’d think we’d be fine if a bunch of them never got produced again.

We should question what materials and resources are most appropriate for different purposes.
We should completely rethink how we produce things. We have to create balanced systems within the ecosystem or completely closed systems if they are poisonous to the environment. The book Cradle to Cradle speaks about this idea of infinity systems. Using materials that are infinitely recyclable. Here’s a TED talk about it from one of the authors of the book.

Here’s another TED talk about sharing ideas and co creation.