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A creative and passionate plea from Dolf Jansen, on 15 August at 12.35 CET on Dutch Radio 1. Listen to it! ‘Meuk’, argues Jansen, is the stuff that we don’t really or really don’t need but still buy under the pressure of marketing and ads. Jansen, in his characteristic style, gives some hilarious examples, making his plea all the more relevant and disturbing. Our consumer behavior causes roughly half of all energy consumption and co2 emissions globally. Everything we buy must be mined, grown, manufactured, and transported.
Why is it so difficult to consume less? Psychological studies indicate that the anticipation and action of buying something can be more satisfying than possessing and using it. In an extreme form, this is known as shopping addiction, but we all appear to be more or less sensitive to it. That is not a problem, it is just there, and I can sometimes feel it. The notion that I have this psychological temptation inside me helps me to resist the marketeers and ad makers who try to address it.


Let us indeed de-stuff ourselves. I have enough shoes, my smartphone still works fine, and I don’t need #blackfriday sales. If we all use all our stuff twice as long, we can worldwide save 25-30% of all raw materials, energy, and co2 (for comparison: all wind power and solar energy now save only 4% CO2). The only one who can accomplish this is the person we see in the mirror every morning.

About this column

In a weekly column, alternately written by Eveline van Zeeland, Eugene Franken, Katleen Gabriels, PG Kroeger, Carina Weijma, Bernd Maier-Leppla, Willemijn Brouwer, Maarten van Andel and Colinda de Beer, Innovation Origins tries to figure out what the future will look like. These columnists, sometimes joined by guest bloggers, are all working in their own way to find solutions to the problems of our time. So tomorrow will be good. Here are all the previous columns in this series.