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Sharing leads to a better society

During his first speech as the new leader of the Dutch GreenLeft party, Jesse Klaver revealed the party’s latest enemy: ‘economism’. Public debate in our society is dominated by it, says Klaver. There is something terribly wrong with the way we live today. For thirty years we have only been pursuing our own material self-interest. The entire public debate is dominated by economism, we don't ask ourselves: is it fair, is it good, does it bring us closer to a better society? Every aspect of our society is reduced to a simple cost and benefit calculation, when all around us the more important matters are pushed to the side lines. Justice, for instance, and sustainability. And, let's not forget, compassion. We only look at viability and cost effectiveness. Not at what things are worth. This dreary bookkeeper’s mentality is what ruined healthcare, destroyed art and changed schools into talent devouring factories.


Does economic growth lead to an enhanced quality of life and improved human flourishing?


"... But our idea of prosperity is too limited. Prosperity is less than happiness. Happiness is also about if you are in a good relationship, for instance. But prosperity is also more than how much money is in your wallet. Robert Kennedy already said: Our Gross National Product measures everything, except that which makes life worthwhile.  (...) I do not want to steer for profit numbers or head for economic growth, I want everything to revolve around our ideals. Care for the earth. Allow people to follow their hearts. Everyone contributes and no one gets left behind. We have to find a new balance between market, society and the government. With a little bit less market, a different government and with more society. There is a need for politics where not only counts what can be measured in money, but also what is intrinsically valuable: nature, friendship, art, healthy food." According to Jesse Klaver.


The economy of sharing


Already one year ago we wrote a blog about "The economy of sharing'.


The emerging ‘sharing economy’ is a step in the right direction. If only we could start 'sharing' on a larger scale. But the current economy is not aimed at sharing but aimed at self-interest. While ‘sharing’ is in everyone's interest!


Imagine that we're going to do things a little bit different: as a consumer I do not buy cars anymore but I pay for the use of a car, for example for 15,000 kilometers per year. I do not buy a washing machine, but pay for the use of a washing machine. I do not buy a couch, but pay for using a particular couch for a certain period of time.

In other words, I do not buy products, but only pay for using the products that I want to use. With the manufacturer of the products I make agreements about quality, performance and maintenance of these products, and we decide on the duration of our agreement and the price I pay for this service.


The products remain the property of the manufacturer. He has made them and he is - and remains - responsible for them. (Why did we ever find it acceptable that manufacturers produce an endless stream of products and never look at them again after they sold them?)


An attractive idea, this 'circular economy'. Producers will suddenly make sure that their products last for a very long time without needing much maintenance. They will also quickly start to use only materials that can be used again (and again). Their profit will come from using a truly sustainable production process and reliable services; and that is exactly what consumers want. And of course, just as is the case now, consumers will have to pay for the use. And that is fine with me, because I would rather pay for this kind of economy than for the current state of affairs.


Can the practical tools Jesse Klaver is looking for to fight economism, maybe be found in this direction? 


The term ‘circular economy’ has become increasingly popular in recent years. The attention of many policymakers has been drawn especially to the reports from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF, 2012, 2013, 2015), in which McKinsey calculated the potential of the circular economy in economic terms.


The Circular economy is an economic (cradle to cradle) model, which is foremost about practical and useful thinking to structure an effective economy based on the efficient use of materials and reducing and ultimately eliminating waste flows. As opposed to our current linear (cradle to grave) economy where we extract resources from our planet at an ever-increasing pace, and turn them into a product that we mostly dispose of after use.


The circular economy is actually a misleading term. Circularity does not refer to the macroeconomic process (which is already circular), it refers to making the circuits of materials and goods circular. The circular economy is mainly a way of achieving a different goal, such as sustainable progress or green growth, while in the linear model on which the world economy is currently based, the last phase of a product is not 'reuse', but 'disposal'. 


Check our database for organizations that strive for a sustainable economy and sustainable production methods, like for instance Circle Economy.


Elske van der Horst and John Hogervorst

September 2015 and October 2014


Sources: DutchNewsNRCTrouwRabobankCircle Economy

Image: EU Forum




Elske  |  2015 09 30  |  Permalink  |  Share


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