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Individual Paper: Approaching sufficiency: motivations and experiences among buy-nothing activists and declutterers

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The idea of sufficiency - of not consuming more than we actually need, or more than what can be considered to be “good enough” - is a challenging thought in a consumerist society. This study nevertheless recognizes the urgent need for affluent individuals and societies to develop such a sense of sufficiency in order to combat over-consumption, and argues that this might be one important step towards a post-consumerist and degrowth future.

This paper presents the results of interview studies made with two groups of individuals with very different entrances to a more sufficient consumption practice: “buy-nothing activists” and “declutterers”. Whereas the buy-nothing activists actively have chosen to refrain from consuming anything more than the necessary for one year, the decluttering group started from a wish to decrease their number of material belongings in aiming for a tidier home. Many of the buy-nothing activists included concern for the environment in their motivations for stopping consuming, whereas declutterers rather referred to motivations such as “I had too much stuff” or “I was tired of never being able to keep my home tidy”, suggesting a common sensation of “fatigue of stuff”. The experience of extensive decluttering has however in many cases also led to a decreased level of consumption and a renewed appreciation for one’s belongings.

Looking into the experiences of these informants offers valuable hints as to how consuming less can be made an attractive choice also for the “mainstream consumer”. Some suggestions are better economy, less worrying (about maintaining and “keeping up”), a more relaxed view on status in relation to belongings and style, a tidier home, and a personal development that some would call life-changing. This in turn suggests some possible ways that sufficiency could come to be a more desirable way of life also for those consumers who are not convinced by sustainability arguments, highlighting the possibilities available in regards to planning and policy-making for a postconsumerist, more sufficient society and way of life.


Day: 2018-08-24
Start time: 14:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: Moriskan (Bistron)
Track: Subjectivities, Values, Ideas and Satisfactions



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