Reinventing "abundance", according to Terra Nova

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Towards a new consumption: Terra Nova publishes a report to reinvent "abundance". Today, our society of over-consumption rhymes for many with superfluous spending stimulated by novelty and advertising, impoverishing consumers and aggravating the scarcity of natural resources... But today, new forms of consumption are appearing, which give more meaning to the act of buying: collaborative consumption, sharing, recycling, rental systems, etc. Social innovation is gaining momentum, driven by informed consumers who now ask themselves more questions before buying.

To relay this trend, the think-tank Terra Nova released a report late last year entitled "Reinventing abundance, for a consumption policy.". It proposes to reorganize uses, needs and production methods in order to reinvent a social and ecological consumption policy.

Terra Nova makes 85 concrete proposals, such as reducing the number and density of advertising panels, allowing the sale of food products at a loss 72 hours before their expiry date, developing short circuits and alternative consumption, or creating a VAT of 5.5% for products resold after being repaired or recycled.

In the end, the report is logically (this is Terra Nova's mission) very much oriented towards public policies and the transformation of supply (71 out of 85 proposals concern binding measures tending primarily to modify supply and whose recipients are the producers, and in the "10 basic proposals" that summarise the report, 9 are actions for the direct transformation of supply), but it says little or nothing about the mental changes that are indispensable on the demand side.

overconsumption2Yet consumption is an integral part of the system in which we live, and its inevitable decline is so contrary to the aims of the system that it seems difficult even today to make as if a superficial reformism could be enough to reverse the trend. Moreover, the transformation of demand, in order to help people want less, can only be a matter of social engineering and precisely of a global political project, decoupling the increase in the happiness of citizens from the increase in the consumption of material goods. It is a pity that, in the end, this global political project has so little place in the Terra Nova report.

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(Source © Mescoursesmaplanète.fr / March 2013)

Illustration © Courrier International 2013

 

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