What is sufficiency?

Sufficiency, often also referred to as frugality, starts with consumer behaviour. Based on the principle of "less is more", the general consumption of resources should be reduced to a level that can be reasonably sustained in the future, as the current distribution ratios for goods and resources are not only ecologically dangerous, but also internationally questionable.

A sufficient lifestyle means being frugal with the available resources, without reducing one’s own level of satisfaction and quality of life. This mentality can be seen in a more conscious and reduced consumer behaviour and, what's more, people who live in a "sufficient" manner often have more control over their lives, are more independent, self-aware, healthier, relaxed and satisfied. 

Only by combining efficiency and sufficiency measures can sustainable development be driven forward and greenhouse gas emissions reduced. This is because any improvements in efficiency are nullified if sufficiency is not taken into consideration. Such developments can be found in particular in relation to electrical devices: The energy efficiency of TVs is improving, but they are also getting bigger and sales are increasing. Refrigerators are more energy efficient, but they are not purchased based on the number of people living in a household, because large fridges are practical. What's more, the large cooling volumes mean the technological progress and energy efficiency cannot be exploited to the full. 

Simple ways to live more frugally include dispensing with consumer goods, meat or long-distance travel, shopping in stores or local markets that do not use packaging, swapping or sharing goods or repairing and recycling defective devices, furniture or clothing.

German Federal Environmental Office, University of Stuttgart, gruenewirtschaft.admin.ch



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