sustainabilty vs. minimalism

I consider myself a minimalist. For me, a minimalist is someone who has as little stuff as necessary. And that means, that a lot of technical and digital stuff is too much. There is no essential need for a smart watch or an Alexa in my living room. There is no need for a tablet or for a google home.

All these technical devices are not essential for human beings. What they cause is environmental destruction due to the exploitation of resources and human exploitation due to cheap work forces, especially in south-east Asia. At first glance, it seems like — on a global level — technology is not helping the planet, but harming it.

But what exactly, in today’s world, is not harming the planet but helping it? Almost everything we see and everything we use on an everyday basis is something that harms the planet.

So it’s not easy to figure out what to stick to and what to let go.

Critics also fear, that if we eliminate all the luxury and really go lead a sustainable lifestyle, that we’d be basically living in the stone age again with no room for progress.

Sustainability gives the impression that progress is not wanted.

Minimalism does the opposite and focuses on what is essential for people to keep and to let go of the rest. Smart watch included.

And hence, it offers a very different approach.

Technology fits into the concept of minimalism, but not necessarily in the concept of sustainability.

Minimalism is not necessarily sustainable.

The concept of sustainability doesn’t work.

It’s an anti-attitude that hasn’t spread as much as it should have. This is due to the fact, that it doesn’t offer a good story. Nor does it offer anything to strive for.

It’s an empty shell without any content.

It’s something that nobody wants.

Minimalism in comparison is something worth striving for. It offers a different model, a new model.

But nonetheless, it might not be enough to save the planet.

Radical approaches are necessary, but they don’t sell very well.

Just living with less is not an attractive idea.

But living with what’s important to you is an attractive idea.

Minimalism is a lifestyle. And: it’s stylish.

And that’s what sustainability is often missing. There is no newness, no aesthetic concept behind it.

Even me, who has been around the sustainability scene for years and who came to love it, still have the eco-hippieh-image in my head. Which I also connect to non existent progress.

Sustainability seems to bring no progress at all. It’s a concept that promises you to go back in time. For some this might be a tempting idea. They have romantic images of the past. How beautiful, simple and connected to nature everything was.

But humanity is not made to go back. We are here on this planet to progress, to move forward. It’s something that is so very innate in our nature that any attempt to suppress it makes us feel unhappy.

Happiness comes form progress. Standing still either depresses people or it makes them numb.

The reason we consume so much is because we feel so numb towards everything. And we think we have no other choice, because there is no way forward in this world. Everything will get worse. That’s what we fear, what media tells us, what we believe.

This standing still is death.

Sustainability promises you that everything will stand still.

But we shouldn’t strive for what is. We should strive for what can be.

It’s about maintaining what we think is essential and important and to let go of the rest.

It’s about telling a new story, a story that’s attractive.

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