Happy degrowth and self-production: a desirable choice
by Lucia Cuffaro, vice president of the Italian Happy Degrowth Movement.
“Growth, development and social progress. Does the GDP measure everything?”, this was the title of one of the essays to be written during the 2016 Italian matriculation exam.
The Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research made a reference to the famous speech that senator Robert Kennedy held at Kansas University in 1968 in which he highlighted the unsuitability of using GDP as indicator of a state’s wealth:
“Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.”
Maybe something is moving…
Premier Renzi opened his inaugural speech of the politic year 2014-2015 talking (in a wrong and critical way) about degrowth.
In May 2015 the encyclical of Pope Francis “Laudato si’” was made public, soon becoming a historic text. It entirely regards the environment protection with a clear reference to degrowth.
Therefore, very clear messages which demonstrate the need of a deep change.
What is Happy Degrowth?
It represents a new and proactive cultural model that comes from the critic to a consumer system which is devastating and outdated.
The society in which we live stands on the concept of hyper-production and creation of purchase need in citizens/consumers in order to have the GDP growing continuously.
The massive production of garbage, the constant waste and the impoverishment of natural resources are the direct consequence of this sick and always more failure system.
However, is it desirable a world in which everyone is forced to gain always more in order to spend always more and make few powerful people always richer?
What we need is planning an immediate change of direction for this trend, so that governments may encourage specific politics of selective degrowth.
We need to promote qualitative instead of quantitative citizen well-being, what has a low environmental impact, everything that doesn’t lead to the exploitation of living being and what allows a fair distribution of money such as green jobs, clean technologies that reduce waste, small and medium-sized organic enterprises and much more.
As proposed by Maurizio Pallante, founder of the Happy Degrowth Movement, what we need is an evolution of the economy into organic-economy and the substitution of more with better, being aware that better doesn’t necessarily equal more, but sometimes it equals less.
It seriously damages the environment
All products introduced into the market create an exploitation of natural resources, even if often we don’t realise that. This slow poisoning should be communicated on each package as it happens with cigarettes.
Self-production as a peaceful action of informed rebellion
Unlike many philosophical and economic theories of social criticism, Happy Degrowth proposes practical actions.
One of these, which is probably the most famous, is the self-production of necessary and truly useful goods.
The know-how represents a political action that anyone can make. It is something revolutionary because it is based on a series of practices intended to instill a stronger self-awareness and an ethical way of consuming.
It starts with a correct understanding of labels and of the substances contained in commercial products that damage both ourselves and the environment.
Only then we move to the practical stage, that is to say self-production, in order to make safe products easily and most importantly being more free and informed. Cosmetics, soaps, food, natural detergents, health remedies, products for taking care of plants and animals are only few of the many ways to explore and enjoy self-production.
6 good reasons to start self-producing
- Health: reinforcement of the body, the immune system and every digestive process, cleaner skin and less presence of symptoms.
- Environment: less pollution thanks to the choice of biodegradable substances and less environmental impact. Huge decrease in the production of packaging.
- Saving money: self-producing and living in an ecological way allow us to save a considerable amount of money and be less dependent from it and from salaried work.
- Support to small and medium-sized enterprises: more aware purchases help redistributing money in a fairer way.
- Tradition: self-production revives ancient practices in a modern take, so that the things we’ve learnt from the past will not be forgotten.
- Fun: DIY activities are funny and give a great sense of satisfaction.
How to get started?
By reading books, attending labs and courses of self-production, watching tutorials or consulting reliable websites.
As first recipe you can start with a homemade bread with mother yeast, a basic food that nowadays is no longer very healthy due to poor-quality ingredients full of sugars and gluten.
Otherwise you can try a recipe for green cleaning, very easy and multipurpose.
All you have to do is diluting 200 g of citric acid in 800 g of distilled water in order to make out of nothing an ecologic and super cheap product to be used as a laundry conditioner or as a rinse agent for your dishwasher. You just need to add a coffee cup of product each laundering/washing, it lasts for long periods in a bottle of glass and it has to be shaken well before use.
Does it seem to easy? Self-production is just like this! It’s all about “small” revolutionary actions to improve our health and save the environment.
Lucia Cuffaro is the teacher of the 3-day course on self-production and self-sufficiency hosted by La Fattoria dell’Autosufficienza from July 15th to 17th 2016.
She published 3 books and a DVD on self-production with the publisher Gruppo Macro.
For further information on the Happy Degrowth Movement or becoming a member please check the website www.decrescitafelice.it.