In modern society, overconsumption and wastage of resources seem to be a norm. We buy more than what is necessary, use and waste more material, water and electricity than needed, and throw away more waste.
We tend to change our material belongings constantly to suit the current fashion and trend, leaving behind a trail of “old-fashioned” waste. These “old” waste are thrown away although some could still be in good condition.
The Idea of Sufficiency
It is time to ask ourselves whether we should practise “sufficiency” in our consumption. Sufficiency means that as we do more and more of an activity, there will be a state when we feel a sense of enough and too much, and we know it’s time to stop.
In other words: Buy only what we need; Use only what we need; Take only what we need. As Paul Ekins explains in the book, Capitalism as if the World Matters:
“In a society devoted to ever-greater consumption, it is hard not to identify sufficiency with notions of sacrifice, of ‘doing without’ or ‘giving things up’. Such identifications are, however, misplaced. Certainly, sufficiency implies relatively modest consumption and simplicity in personal lifestyle. But these are not motivated by abstract aestheticism or self-denial, but arise from a perception that sufficiency in consumption permits a greater emphasis to be placed on other aspects of human experience, which are actually more personally rewarding and fulfilling than consumption.”
We have to recognise that there are other things to pursue in life besides buying, consuming and discarding; things that are more important like relationships, health and happiness. Don’t end up like the rats in this video:
Always remember the idea of sufficiency and ask yourself whether you need to buy or use something in the first place. Buy only what you need. Use only what you need.
Some examples of thinking in terms of sufficiency:
Don’t be a Slave to the Latest Fashion
We have a choice. We can choose what we want. There is no need to follow the latest fashion and keep on changing our clothing and accessories to suit the new style.
Fashion changes frequently so that companies can keep on selling new things to consumers. Don’t be a slave to the latest fashion and to the companies that promote excessive consumerism and false obsolescence.
Be clear with what you want and stick to your style regardless of the ever changing fashion trends. If you change less, you buy less. And if you buy, we recommend clothing and accessories that are classic and simple in style. We like simplicity, they never go out of fashion.
Avoid Changing Your Handphone Frequently
In 2006, the number of handphone subscribers in Singapore is about 4.6 million, which means that each person in Singapore probably own at least one handphone.
The rate of change of handphones is fast and we know of people who change their handphones every few months so that they can have the latest model with better functions and features. If each person change their handphone once a year, we would end up with 4.6 million old handphones that are usually sold as secondhand phones locally and overseas, or disposed of.
There is no need to keep changing your handphone to the latest model if your current one is still working fine. The frequent changing of handphones results in more resources being used to make new ones and also increases the disposal of the old handphones.