The art of un-necessity

Simple or not?
I like simple and get most pleasure from those things which are refined to a minimal status without significant compromise to quality, performance or aesthetics.

As much as some of the obsession around the I-phone rather bores me, I absolutely admire the pure simplicity of the item.

I believe simplicity is at the heart of the green/ sustainable movement, this is simplicity re-framed, simplicity on steroids.

What is driving some of the green businesses I have read about is a small steps approach. This opened their ideas to possibilities (and waste) they had not previously seen.

In this short post I hope to prompt that rethink with my audience.

    • How do you monitor vehicle miles?
    • How many flights could be cut back by people staying over; getting more organised and visiting more customers, clients or suppliers?
    • How much of your paper is recycled – even if that is just printing on both sides – having trays just for drafts or casual printouts on lower grade recycled material? ( thinking of which why don’t we have budget home office printers with dual trays to allow this convenience?) [pullquote]And hard as it is, I try, I try, I try.[/pullquote]
    • What incentives do you have for your employees to use local transport, bike or walk to work? (An annual bus pass for every employee?)
    • Do you compost/worm bin food scraps at work?
    • What do you do to discourage convenience food waste like coffee cups, plastic bottles and disposable containers etc.?
    • How much packaging from suppliers could be eliminated or returned?
    • How much do you over-pack your products? Cereal manufacturers take note. (If I recall correctly minimum surface area for a given volume is achieved when Height=Diameter for a cylinder, and Height=Width for a box)
    • What are your customers doing with the waste you generate for them? What impact on them if you offered to collect it?
    • What benefits would you get if your customers saw you were doing your bit?

Let’s embrace some new ways – like my colleagues who didn’t even look sideways when I attended a meeting in my cycle shorts and jacket two days ago.

And another question looms –“ What do we need, really?” . What is necessity?

    • A new phone?
    • A new car or even bigger 4WD?
    • A bigger television?
    • More office space?

Waste occurs every time we generate or produce something, every time we use something, every time we don’t fully use something and every time we get something we don’t need.

And hard as it is, I try, I try, I try.

And it feels great.

For more information visit here to download a paper on current initiatives around the world
and here to see some of what is happening here in NZ.

3 Replies to “The art of un-necessity”

  1. Dear Richard,
    I believe that major reason for Satisfaction is the gap between needs and wants. More the gap, more the dissatisfaction and vice versa. Your capacity to meet wants also plays deciding factor. As long as you meet those wants, you can minimise your dissatisfaction but when you are unable to fulfill that, it creates dissatisfaction. On the other hand, when you limit yourself to needs, you can stop or minimise dissatisfaction. I belive in simple living and high thinking. Simple living creates satisfcation in life and it connects with people,relativies, friends and family. It shows the meaning of life. Servant leaders are the classic examples of simplicity. They impact the society and people in a greater way.
    Yes I do belive that Waste occurs every time when we re-look. In fact where there is a waste, there is an opportunity. I see waste in terms of saving time, un learning, and sharpening the saw. More the waste, more the sharpness and it gives edge over others in terms of skill, talents,knowleges etc.

  2. We need very little as humans.
    Contact with the outside world a and a sense of belonging. Maslows Heirachy of needs illustrates this perfectly.
    Material stuff doesn’t matter…maybe…
    I’ve lived as a poor person with no money and as someone who has money (not a lot but just enough). And I can tell you that life is better WITH money. It’s what we do with it that counts.

  3. Great philosophical debating opportunities here Richard. I like what Mark has to say on the subject.I think most people would agree with him. Having “enough” is the thing and of course, at the same time that’s also the challenge isn’t it. “ENOUGH” is different for everyone.One could argue(and I would) the chap in Auckland currently building his 30M house probably has enough !

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