The term was coined by Canadian ecologists William E. Rees and Mathis Wackernagel in 1995. Ecological footprint measures how much fertile land is needed to support the level of consumption of an individual, an area or a country, and to absorb its waste. The ecological footprint shows the rate of humanity’s natural resource use, and also how many additional individuals our planet may adequately provide for. The units for ecological footprint are global hectares. Due to imprecise calculations, the model is being continuously revised, including more and more aspects in the process. The ecological footprint rate is rather approximate, symbolic so to say – its aim being an incentive to a more sustainable lifestyle and the change of consumption habits. According to the latest data, the average ecological footprint of Hungary is 3.7 hectares, while globally there are only 1.8 hectares of biologically productive land and sea area available per person. Currently the United States of America, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates have the highest ecological footprints of approx. 9 hectares, and the lowest number of 0.5 belongs to Mozambique, Nepal and Bangladesh.
We live faster, travel more, and buy more things. The present day, marked by the rapid development of technology and consumption-oriented societies, is more and more characterized by a fast pace of life, with stress and rush. Life today is filled with grave contradictions: throughout human history the majority of people have never lived so long and in such a good health, surrounded by such a tremendous wealth of goods. Still, nowadays we are forced to face problems like the negative consequences of urbanization, endangering our natural environment and biodiversity, impersonalization of human relationships, and increasing social disparities.
Globalisation has brought us certain guidelines as how to behave in this world. However, there are countless actions and strategies confronting the prevailing, “mainstream” way of living and doing things. These alternative endeavours manifest themselves at the individual level. There are many alternative life strategies. These are not specified, they may take different forms and means – depending on whether it is everyday life, work, an attitude, or beliefs. They might cover a wide range from growing one’s own vegetables in the living room to abandoning one’s home and moving to a house truck instead. The range of the alternative life strategies is endless; the point is to follow one’s needs, one’s heart, and to be in harmony with oneself.
Self-sustainability is a state of being in which the basic needs of an individual or a family can be fulfilled based on their own sources, without outer help. Self-sustaining entities make themselves independent of money, global economy and employers. This idea has emerged repeatedly in the modern history of mankind – see David Thoreau’s Walden – On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (1854), which gives insight into withdrawal into nature from the maiming impact of civil society. In addition, numerous other examples could be mentioned where individuals or complete communities withdrew from industrialised society to reach self-sufficiency by producing all raw materials and products for themselves and their families using traditional methods. Withdrawal does not only mean independence but also progression – through building a harmonious relationship with nature, one can also develop spiritually. Traditional methods of producing do not exploit nature the way industrial agriculture and livestock farming do. Self-sustainability can also be realised in an urban environment: by baking our own bread, by using chemical free sanitary and cleaning products, by drying, preserving or pickling fruits and vegetables, or by sewing our own clothes.
Zero waste is a self-imposed activity that aims at minimising waste production through the individual’s change of purchasing and consumption habits. As a result, producing waste – especially non-reusable waste – should be avoided to ease the burdens of recycling. The latter is essential, since the resources required for recycling are tremendous – it is easier to avoid waste generation in the first place.
Conscious consuming reconsiders the need of purchasing a certain product. Overcoming the effects of advertising or the joy of gaining something is challenging; however, current overproduction causes ecological problems, and environmental stress can be decreased through moderate consumption. Package free shops aim at helping this problem, and besides, reusable textile bags and boxes can replace disposable, single-use ones. There is no need to throw away items we already own – numerous organisations and forums help us pass on or repurpose them. Raw kitchen waste may also be of use after composting. Another important aspect of the zero waste approach is breaking the habit of using single-use, disposable products and switching to their reusable versions. Examples include textile bags (mentioned earlier), textile handkerchiefs, napkins and refillable water bottles instead of plastic ones.
sustainability, voluntary simplicity, climate crisis, ecological crisis, anti-consumerism, critique of consumerism
Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus made minimalism as a lifestyle famous around the globe; however, simplifying one’s style of living according to actual, essential needs had previously been practised by many.
Becoming a minimalist makes us rethink our routines, enhances our understanding of which habits or objects hold genuine value in our lives, and helps us detect the unnecessary. There are no rules in minimalism. It is up to us to analyse our work, personal relationships and home – i.e. all aspects of our lives, and differentiate between what provides us with real joy and content or causes negative reactions. The aim is simplification, and discovering possibilities that benefit our lives. In developed countries, overconsumption has resulted in the bad practice of organising our time, health, goals and hopes and dreams into a perpetual work-consumption cycle. Minimalists try to break out of this cycle to find joy, spare time, new experiences and real personal connections by pursuing a slower, but truly mindful lifestyle.
voluntary simplicity, awareness, mindfulness, anti-consumerism, critique of consumerism, wastefulness