“He will always be a slave who does not know how to live upon little.”

– Horace

Well-being and Sustainability

To achieve environmentally sustainable human well-being “the aim ought to be to obtain the maximum amount of well-being with the minimum amount of consumption,” as E.F. Schumacher said.

The overarching strategy to achieve this goal would be to limit your material consumption to a sufficient level for physical well-being, which can be surprisingly little. Well-being has very little to do with material consumption after basic physical needs are met. The time and money you save provides the freedom to do other things that enhance well-being.

How do you increase your well-being at the same time that you are cutting consumption and resource use? The answer is to look at the material things you consume that are instrumental in providing real freedom, growth and well-being. Anything else is called terminal materialism because it is materialism that goes nowhere, it is a complete waste.

The most potent way to live a sufficient life is to practice voluntary simplicity. Reducing your ecological footprint can increase your well-being in all sorts of ways. It might seem paradoxical but the continually growing convenience and labour-saving of modern goods and services are actually harmful to people, as well as the planet. Being continually passive, sedentary and comfortable is not good for you. In this case, ease is a disease.

Living a materially simpler lives does not mean sacrifice, on the contrary, people who have simplified their lives talk about how they feel freer and richer. In a very real way, people are slaves to the belief that getting ahead means working long hours, being stressed and sacrificing time with family and friends.

Being as self-sufficient as possible will also reduce your footprint. It is also a great way to increase well-being by providing greater security, resilience, self-esteem, freedom and independence.

These tactics for doing more with less are about leveraging the value you get out of what you have, so you don’t have to consume so much.