Cultivating Consumer Restraint in an Ecologically Full World: The Case of “Take Back Your Time”

  • Michael F. Maniates


Ours is an ecologically full world of some 6.5 billion people, more than half of whom live in material poverty. It is a world where the capacity of environmental systems to absorb abuse while delivering vital goods and services is more than fully taxed. Current patterns of global consumption deplete natural resources (like fisheries or ground water) faster than they regenerate. Prevailing networks of production create waste in volumes that overwhelm the absorptive capacity of natural systems (leading to problems like climate change). Taken together, 1.4 planets of ecosystem capacity and natural resource stocks are required to sustain human society, and we are quickly heading to 1.5 and beyond.1 Growing affluence among the world’s poor is yielding a class of “new consumers” for whom automobiles, a diet rich in meat, and larger homes with more possessions are the looming norm,2 and transnational corporations faced with saturated markets in the rich world work diligently to cultivate new consumer appetites among the new consumers of the poor world. Humanity seems locked on a collision course with massive ecological decline, destabilizing crisis, and authoritarian (even draconian) social and political response.3


Sick Leave Leisure Time Sustainable Consumption Vacation Time Human Happiness 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael F. Maniates
    • 1
  1. 1.Allegheny CollegeMeadvilleUSA

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