In a recently published article on AlterNet, Dara Colwell sites how Americans are working harder than ever before and are doing so at a greater cost to the environment. Even though research continues to suggest that practicing a simpler lifestyle, while using fewer resources, makes people happier.
“We now seem more determined than ever to work harder and produce more stuff, which creates a bizarre paradox: We are proudly breaking our backs to decrease the carrying capacity of the planet,” says Conrad Schmidt, an internationally known social activist and founder of theWork Less Party, (the Vancouver-based initiative aimed at moving to a 32-hour work week — a radical departure from the in early, out late cycle we’ve grown so accustomed to. “Choosing to work less is the biggest environmental issue no one’s talking about.”
A former computer programmer, Schmidt is a man of action. He started by getting rid of his car and cycling to work, then took advantage of the savings by reducing his workweek, which in turn allowed him enough time to write his book, make two documentaries, and organize a community theater group. Not bad especially considering he did it all in the last three years!
“People spend so many hours working they have no idea of how much creative potential they have, but when you get a taste of mental freedom you want more of it. It’s an explosion of creativity.” says Schmidt, quickly adding, “I’m a workaholic, but it’s the type of work that’s the problem. Our society is focused on work that makes stuff that goes directly into landfills. Essential work such as art, music, creativity, community, the kind necessary to create a healthy society and planet, is being negated in favor of that.”
If there’s any solution to increasing our well-being, as well as the planet’s, Schmidt’s advice flies counter to our driven consumerism. “If you want to protect the environment, you have to consume less, which means you have to produce less, and you have to work less. We have to keep the message positive — our standard of living will improve hugely. I think people are starting to make the connection.”
Interested in finding out more?
Check outSchmidt’s 32 hour work week policy objectives