In True Wealth (titled Plenitude in hardcover), economist and New Dream board co-chair Juliet Schor offers a groundbreaking intellectual statement about the economics and sociology of ecological decline, suggesting a radical change in how we think about consumer goods, value, and ways to live: a plenitude economy.
Responding to our current moment, True Wealth puts sustainability at its core. But it is not a paradigm of sacrifice. Instead it’s an argument that through a major shift to new sources of wealth, green technologies, and different ways of living, individuals and the country as a whole can actually be better off and more economically secure.
As Schor observes, plenitude is already emerging. In pockets around the country and the world, people are busy creating lifestyles that offer a way out of the work-and-spend cycle. These pioneers’ lives are scarce in conventional consumer goods and rich in the newly abundant resources of time, information, creativity, and community.
Urban farmers, D.I.Y renovators, Craigslist users, cob builders—all are spreading their risk and establishing novel sources of income and outlets for procuring consumer goods. Taken together, these trends represent a movement away from the conventional market and offer a way toward an efficient, rewarding life in an era of high prices and traditional resource scarcity.
Visualizing a Plenitude Economy is a beautifully drawn 5-minute video based on Juliet Schor's book. Produced by New Dream in 2011 and narrated by Schor, it is the first installment of the New Dream Mini-Views series. This fun animation provides a vision of what a post-consumer society could look like, with people working fewer hours and pursuing re-skilling, homesteading, and small-scale enterprises that can help reduce the overall size and impact of the consumer economy.
Watch it, enjoy it, and share it!