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No Efficiency in the Land of Plenty - Why We Waste More Resources When They Are Abundant

No efficiency needed in the land of milk and honey

Have you ever wondered why efficient use of natural resources is not so important in the land of milk and honey? Then I would like to answer this question here and now. We live in a truly disposable society, where everything we want is constantly available. However, due to the limited resources in our nature, this will not work forever. Today we are already looking for solutions for the biggest environmental problems of our time - such as climate change or plastic waste in the world's oceans. What does "search" mean? The masses create the problems - and a few fight against them. That is the reason, why we all need to live more sustainably.

In this article, I'll show you why efficiency is unimportant in the land of plenty - and why the wind shifts when abundance ends. Let's go!

What is a land of milk and honey? And what efficiency?

A land of plenty generally means a fairy-tale place where all people live a paradisiacal life of abundancewithout having to pay anything in return or think of the consequences for future generations of humanity.₁ Enjoyment is the greatest virtue for the inhabitants of the land of milk and honey, while hard work and diligence rather considered a sin become. Even old age can be stopped there with the help of the fountain of youth. The land of milk and honey is thus the idea of a utopian dream world in which the need to work, plan and manage efficiently is absent. 

Efficiency: The term efficiency describes an assessment criterion that can be used to describe whether a measure is suitable for achieving a given goal in a certain way (e.g., only with little effort).₂ Effort and result are thus put into relation for this purpose.

Why isn't efficiency so important in the land of milk and honey?

A suitable example to answer this initial question is the human handling of normally limited, natural resources represents. Since in a land of plenty all necessary resources are available in infinite quantities, there is simply no need to live in the most resource-efficient way possible or to optimize one's own actions in such a way that one's personal lifestyle causes as little damage to nature and future generations as possible, quickly and with as little effort as possible.

The land of milk and honey - A painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder
The land of milk and honey - A painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder / Credits: Wikipedia

After all, the effort is zero, while the yield is available in arbitrary quantities. In a land of plenty without scarce goods, the motivation for efficiency is simply missing. Accordingly, the need to perform also inhibits the pursuit of scientific, cultural and technical progress. Therefore, efficiency, or the efficient use of resources (e.g. raw materials, food or money) in the sense of sustainability, is not so important in the land of milk and honey.

In our real world, however, resource scarcity drives efficiency. A few decades ago, somewhat less so; today, all the more so. However, one thing must be remembered even in the land of milk and honey: even if all the physiological needs of humans (food, air, water, sleep; cf. Maslow's pyramid of needs) are met in the fairy tale world - this does not automatically apply to Safety needs and social needs. The fulfillment of the needs "esteem" and "self-actualization" could ultimately even be reduced without a drive for efficiency.

The Real World Was Once a Land of Cockaigne, Too

These days, we live in a Disposable societybut not in a land of milk and honey. But few decades ago, when the consequences for our environment were not yet apparent and resources were abundant, life could probably be described in rudimentary terms. Today, we are slowly discovering that efficient and sustainable behavior is the basis for life for future generations. Otherwise, scarcity is increasing at all levels - so everyone MUST cut back and "tighten their belts". Whether they want to or not.

I like to compare the problem with the handling of a Toilet paper roll. As long as it is still full, we use a little more. There is no need to Sufficiency. What is abundant is not precious. It's only when we run out of paper sheets that we use every shred and value it too! But precisely because we are just beginning, live more sustainably, when it is almost too late, we are facing massive, ecological challenges today. What I want to say: we must value the loo roll from the very beginning and not take it for granted! 😉

Learning to conserve natural resources

We need to understand that our actions have consequences. And learn to manage our personal reduce ecological footprint. Efficiency in the use of natural resources must be a priority. Otherwise, someday on a destroyed planet, our children and grandchildren will ask us why we just kept doing what we were doing - even though we knew what was going to happen.

Do you have questions about efficiency in the land of milk and honey and our wasteful use of natural resources? Then feel free to write me a comment.

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS: Generation X grew up with increasing wealth and didn't have to pay as much attention to efficiency and sustainability. Learn in a separate post how you can inspire older family members or your parents for more sustainability simply by following your heart.

References:
₁ Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities: Schlaraffenland, https://www.dwds.de/wb/Schlaraffenland. [03.05.2021].

₂ R. Lackes: Definition: What is "efficiency"?, https://wirtschaftslexikon.gabler.de/definition/effizienz-35160 [03.05.2021].

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Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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