There is increasing concern around the idea of constant economic growth; our governments and their advisers have enshrined the idea that growth is the only way forward, without any reference to the space and resources that growth would need or the distribution of this wealth once acquired.
Financial stability is the key to a sustainable future
Without necessarily rejecting the idea of capitalism or market forces, many believe that there are other economic models that make more sense within the context of a planet with finite resources to feed a growing economy and an atmosphere with a finite capacity to absorb its waste. Terms you may have heard for these ideas include eco-economy, sustainable or green economy, circular economy and steady-state economy.
Herman Daly coined the phrase ‘steady-state economy’ in the early 70’s. The idea of steady-state is to stabilise use of resources, production of waste and population and measure success against quality of life rather than GDP. This results in a stable ecological envirinment, distributing wealth more fairly among society thus regarding the accumulation of wealth as a means to an end rather than an end in itself.
Now until we have some of these ideas actually working in our national ecocnomics, you might be thinking there is little any individual business can do. Well, much like we talked about in our section on the environment, there are still things you can do.
Any organisation can look at its use of resources and its waste and make improvements to what you buy, who from, what you make and how you make it to ensure that materials are sustainable, recycled or biodegradable and recyclable. You can review how you pay staff, how they work and what their true value is and maybe there are other rewards that would complement the fainancial remuneration they recieve.
You may not make much money but you might be happy doing a job you enjoy and spending time with your family. Perhaps you do make money and invest it back into your community. You may have a lot of very happy clients that come back to you time and again or a really innovative workforce, who are happy in their work and create a great working environment. All these are valid measures of success.
Controlling costs may be part of what sustains your business and longevity could well be ragarded as a sign of success. And you might make it a priority to keep money circulating within you local economy, by buying and selling locally, using a local currency if you have one, etc. This could be great boon to your community.
However you make changes, it is important to remember that whatever you do makes a difference, however small, and sets an example. An avalanche starts with a tiny flake of snow.