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Sufficiency - Meaning in the context of sustainability

Sufficiency - What is it actually?

What does sufficiency mean in the context of sustainable development? Surely you have heard about the sustainability strategies that should be anchored in politics and business in order to make all of our coexistence more resource-efficient and environmentally compatible, and to improve the Environmental problems of our time to solve. One of these strategies is sufficiency - representative of which is the question: how can we make less natural resources consume? For an honest answer to this, we need to find out and assess what things we really need and what is the right measure for them.

In this article, I would like to introduce you to what sufficiency is all about, what examples there are of it, how each of us can live more sufficently, and to what extent sufficiency really means doing without. Let's go!

In advance, you can find a brief overview of the article here:

  1. Definition
  2. Examples
  3. What to do?
  4. Closing words

What does sufficiency mean in relation to sustainability?

In sustainability research, sufficiency (lat. sufficient, genügen) is understood as the effort to achieve a sustainable development through changes in prevailing patterns of consumption and behavior. To achieve the lowest possible consumption of raw materials and energy, to natural Conserve resources. To achieve this, people's existing needs are questioned. The aim is to save materials and resources by consuming less and using a lower level of services.

In simplified terms, the sustainability strategy of sufficiency means, to consume what you really need. Completely in the sense of the minimalist lifestyle.

Difference with consistency and efficiency? In the sufficiency strategy, one does not try to make a product more resource-efficient or to replace it in an environmentally friendly way. Instead, the fundamental need to consume the product is questioned in order to simply produce and consume less.

What are good examples of sufficiency?

Sharing economy as an example of sufficiency

So how can we use fewer resources? Here are some examples of sufficiency to help you understand the concept:

  • Meat consumption: It does not have to be all people vegan live and completely renounce meat and animal products. What is important, however, is a conscious and reduced consumption of resource-intensive meat products.
  • Sharing: I don't need my own bike, but share it with others and use it when I need it. In this way, one less bicycle is produced and therefore material is saved. (This also applies, for example, to car sharing or borrowing a drill from a neighbor).
  • Tourism: One flies only 1x in the year with the airplane into the vacation, in order to reduce the output of climaticdamaging CO2-Emissionen for the own way of life - and recovers for it more in the own, sustainable garden or at destinations that can be reached by train.
  • Drying laundry: I hang my laundry on the line instead of using the clothes dryer. That way I save energy and on sustainable way also money.
  • Heating: Go to sustainable heating also includes wearing thicker clothing indoors in the winter so that less heating energy is needed.

There really are countless examples of sufficiency. If you can think of more, feel free to write them in the comments. But you can also derive some from the following paragraph.

How can everyone act sufficently?

Sustainability: What does sufficiency mean?

The Earth Overload Day, that is the one of the Day in the year that we humans have consumed more renewable resources, than the Earth can reproduce in the entire year, basically moves a little closer to the start of the year each year.

So what can each and every one of us change to live more sufficiency? I get it, Change is often difficult for us humans. But here are some relatively easy-to-implement measures that don't really require anyone to give up anything:

  • Take the public transport more: This way you are more relaxed, cheaper and last but not least also more resource-saving on the road.
  • Think minimalist: Unnecessary Consumption does not make happy - on the contrary. Living in excess drains the well-deserved money from our pockets and burdens the soul at least subconsciously.
  • Save energy: Boil your pasta water in the kettle, for example - and let warm leftovers from your meals cool outside the fridge before putting them inside. These are just a few examples of how to save a lot of Save energy.
  • Buy second hand: Buying second-hand also saves resources, of course, since no new product has to be created. This is especially the case with rather short-lived garments. You can find out more at Slow Fashion.
  • Avoid food waste: While other People starve - we in the Western world are so full that countless tons of edible food go into the garbage can. Reduce your food waste consciously - for example, by shopping strictly according to a shopping list that only contains the food you really need for the week.
  • Think of others: You are not alone in the world. And even if you don't always notice it directly: your actions have consequences for others. You alone decide every day whether you live at the expense of others or not.

These are just a few ideas as a little inspiration. Even more tips and tricks for sufficiency and a sustainable life can be found in the linked article.

Acting sufficently means acting responsibly in the interests of all

Politics, business, and all of our actions must be aligned as much as possible with the goal of a sustainable sufficiency economy, rather than profit maximization, in order to bring about sustainable change.

Whether consuming resources by reducing the demand for goods means doing without? Rhetoric of renunciation is out of place when it comes to not buying or using something you don't need anyway. Basically, one only refrains from destroying one's own environment. In any case, sufficiency does not mean absolute renunciation, but merely an adjustment to a healthy level. Healthy for the planet, healthy for us humans and all life on earth. Sufficiency should ultimately enable good living conditions for everyone - including future generations, which may include your children and grandchildren.

Do you have questions, suggestions, criticism or valuable input on sufficiency, sufficiency policy or resource-friendly consumption in general? Then I'm eager to hear your comments.

Stay sustainable,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS.: Did you know that there are also climate and environmental protection measures where we almost subconsciously tend or are moved to act more sustainably? You can learn more about this now in the article about the Nudging.

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you actively support my work with, because I get a small share of the sales revenue. Thank you for your support and best regards, Christoph!


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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