This is a very important distinction to be made on our way to a more sustainable life. In practice, growth means “more”, while prosperity means “better”. Sustainable living demands that we consistently choose prosperity over growth.
Unfortunately, our society has become totally obsessed with growth. We see 5000 advertising messages per day screaming at us to buy more stuff, our malls are filled with “bargains” trying to get us to buy things that we don’t even need, and low-cost-low-quality consumables of all kinds are now so common that it has become the norm to replace our entire arsenal of miscellaneous stuff yearly.
With regard to the environment, growth implies that we consume more and more planetary resources (both because growth-oriented consumables are so cheap and because they break all the time), while prosperity implies the exact opposite.
When looking at the economy, low quality, growth-oriented products derive their price from the planetary resources they are made of, while high quality, prosperity-oriented products derive their value from the labour needed to develop and produce products of real quality.
And when it comes to personal finances, high quality, long-lasting products will often actually work out cheaper in the long run becuase they have a very long lifetime and tend to run much more cost-effectively.
Choosing prosperity over growth therefore implies that we will take less from the environment while simultaneously increasing the number of jobs in the economy and raising the standard of living of individual consumers. Pretty handy combo, right?
So, next time you are out shopping, make our world a better place by choosing prosperity over growth.
Filed under: Introduction – Key concepts