February 9, 2006

Declaration of Independence from Overconsumption

Vicki Robin, New Road Map Foundation president, spoke to the United Nations on April 6, 1994. Her speech, "A Declaration of Independence from Overconsumption," appears in abridged form at the Foundation's site. Excerpts include:

"Overconsumption Is A Catastrophe for Ourselves: Declining quality of life. Our habit of overconsumption enslaves many of us to longer hours at tedious or morally questionable jobs. We say we value relationships over possessions, yet our behavior says the opposite. As we spend less time with our families and communities, we end up with more crime, violence and teen suicides. ...

"Overconsumption Is A Catastrophe For Our Country: Economic weakness. Our habit of overconsumption has led to debt, bankruptcy and the lowest savings rate in the industrialized world. We don't have money to invest in infrastructure, in education, in the future.

"Personal excess encourages institutional abuses. The more-is-better mentality allows us to tolerate wars over oil, and corporate practices that are wasteful, polluting and unethical. We can't say "no" to Nintendos for our children or new gadgets for ourselves, so how can we expect our government to say "no" to deficit spending or CEO's to say "no" to exorbitant salaries?

"Overconsumption Is A Catastrophe For Humanity: Modeling an unattainable and unsustainable lifestyle to the global community. The earth cannot support everyone in the manner to which Americans have become accustomed. We must find a way to limit our excess and maintain or increase our quality of life while providing the world's people with our best knowledge and technologies so that they too can enjoy sustainable livelihoods and lifestyles.

"Overconsumption Is A Catastrophe For The Earth: Environmental destruction. Overconsumption accelerates species extinction, water and air pollution, global warming, and accumulation of toxic waste and garbage.

"Resource depletion. Overconsumption means we're using renewable resources faster than nature can restore them. Twenty percent of the groundwater we use each year is not restored. One million acres of cropland are lost to erosion annually. Ninety percent of our northwestern old-growth forests is gone."

After this, Ms. Robin gives strategies for change on both an individual and group level, as well as defining the myths surrounding the resistance to change.

It's a must read.
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