Why Fewer Work Hours Means a Smaller Environmental Footprint

Last week I got quite inspired by a rather beautiful video on working less, playing more and reducing our impact on the environment. From simple living in tiny houses to the value of DIY culture, we've already seen plenty of ways that people are thinking beyond the earn-spend-consume economic paradigm and toward a more connected, rich and ultimately sustainable economic model of "plenitude". But here was somebody connecting those dots. The creator of that video, Juliet Schor, has an article explaining the "plenitude economy" in mode detail, and it makes a powerful case for why less work and fewer hours would mean a cleaner environment and a more just, equitable economy too:

A French study found that, after controlling for income, households with longer working hours increased their spending on housing (buying larger homes with more appliances), transport (longer hours reduced the use of public transportation), and hotels and restaurants. A recent Swedish study found that when households reduce their working hours by 1 percent, their greenhouse gas emissions go down by 0.8 percent. One explanation is that when households spend more time earning money, they compensate in part by purchasing more goods and services, and buying them at later stages of processing (e.g., more prepared foods). People who have more time at home and less at work can engage in slower, less resource-intensive activities.

Tags: Consumerism | Economics | Poverty | United States

Best of TreeHugger