Doughnut Economics: A Different Way of Thinking about Living

It seems almost quaint: Live so you are comfortable but still not deplete the world’s resources. This is called doughnut economics. The third world should strive to bring up their standard of living, but the first world should not live beyond their means and deplete the world’s resources. Huh?

Amsterdam Doughnut Economics

Amsterdam Doughnut Economics

It seems pretty reasonable, really. China, India and other poorer countries strive to economically improve and pull people out of poverty. That can only be a good thing. But then you have the first world countries consuming way beyond their means, because they are rich and because they can. As China and India improve, why should they not also consume beyond the earth’s means as well? The reason is that the world will then be depleted and we, as a species, will all suffer.

Our first world economies live as throw away societies, buying cheap things, using them once and throwing them away. Our economics functions on buying more stuff, outdoing your neighbour. New cars, always advertising on TV.

Tech is built on throw-away devices, and particularly phones. Operating systems and applications are upgraded, leaving old hardware behind. There’s very little attempt to upgrade and reuse equipment. There are issues with the right to repair, where manufacturers discourage the ability of end consumers to repair and continue to use owned equipment. As a society there is no benefit to using old but still functional devices. There seems also no attempt to engineer devices to be repairable and reusable beyond a few years. All this tech gets thrown into the garbage.

Fashion is terrible this way. Fast fashion is to buy cheaply, use a couple of times, grow tired of it, only to be replaced in a couple of months, the old and often not well work garment discarded to the trash. We are a throw away society. We like the new and shiny, the young generation, and discard the old.

I just don’t see how this can apply to the West without a catastrophic crisis that will force us to change. We need something like a CoVid-19 for the earth. I repair clothing to prolong their use, repair appliances and computers, but these skills have largely been lost. When we buy products their disposal costs are not included in their purchase price. It is society and cities that pay the price for their disposal. Cheap products rely on inexpensive third world labour that we could not afford in the first world. We need the exploitation of the third world. That’s just not how our economies function today. Until we have radical change that includes disposable and all other fees in the purchase price, this doughnut economics will not work.

2021 Feb 14 The country rejecting throwaway culture: EU’s Right to Repair movement. I like it!

2021 Feb 24 Feed your moths and hide your trousers: the expert guide to making clothes last for ever There’s a huge amount of truth in the donation of used clothing, most of which is eventually dumped.

In her book, she advocates boro, the Japanese art of mending denim, by which layers of fabric scraps are used as patches and affixed with visible stitches….

…De Castro insists that her longevity manifesto is all-encompassing: “The idea that cheap fashion doesn’t warrant mending is horrendous.” She says “it is precisely people of limited economic or time means for whom longevity should have been invented”

2021 Feb 20 Why France’s New Tech ‘Repairability Index’ Is a Big Deal: France’s fledgeling repairability index. I am all for this.

2019 Feb 25 “Fast fashion” furniture has given us a world of crappy couches

“The same thing is happening in furniture that you saw happen in fashion,” Hannah Martin, a senior design writer at Architectural Digest, told me. “You have this cycle where people buy something and it breaks and they throw it out and do it all over again.” She contrasts this with members of previous generations, who “went to showrooms or big-box furniture stores and sat on the sofa, thought about upholstery fabrics, and physically spent a lot of time with the things.

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