Creating an Economy for People and the Planet

The word ‘economy’ is derived from the Greek oikonomia which is roughly translated as ‘household management’. In its original sense then the economy was meant to be concerned with the management of our activities to meet our needs. Yet in recent times the economy has gained a life of its own and we seem to have become subservient to its need for continual growth.

“Nested sustainability-v2″ by KTucker (CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)

275px-Nested_sustainability-v2Over the last few months I have been part of a small working group (Turn the Systems Inside Out) that has been exploring what an economy would look like if it served human needs and respected the limits of our Earth.

As highlighted in some of my previous posts there are already a number of alternative initiatives and economic models out there. Yet these models have not yet gained enough movement to change the dominant system. It would seem that at a personal level we too need to examine what keeps us entrenched in the current economic system and what personal barriers there are which stop us from engaging in alternative initiatives.

We  will be running a workshop in September to further explore these issues with a larger group of people who are interested in exploring alternative ways to meet our needs. Full event details are available at If you would like more information email me.

Economies for People and the Planet FlyerImageFurther information:
A full set of readings for the workshop is available at

A great article on human needs and the Fundamental Human Needs matrix as a tool for measuring these needs was published by the SHIFT magazine

Groups such as the Post Growth Institute and the New Economic Foundation are great sites for further exploring alternative economic models.

A few years ago the Economics Working Group from Sustainable Communities SA produced following reports on the Economy.

A wasteless world

In the natural world nothing is wasted. Waste from one species is food for another species and energy and nutrients are continuously recycled.Yet our modern economic system has been built on a linear model of Make -> Consume ->Dispose.

The Cradle to Cradle concept by William McDonough and Michael Braungart aims to eliminate the waste going to landfill  and conserve scarce resources. In this nature inspired circular model the waste from products are cycled back into the production of other products.

This Circular Economy is one of the important changes that needs to be taking place in the way we manage our economic system!

Also see

The Circular Economy and The Access Economy _ from the Cruxcatalyst blog

The store where money is no good

Last week I put up a post about the Willunga Community Share. Then this week I came across this great article “Birth of a FreeStore”  about the FreeStore in Media, Pennsylvania (USA). Yet another fantastic example of how people are creating beautiful human-centred alternatives to the money-based consumer culture. The following quote from the FreeStore website eloquently summarises the ethos that underpins these initiatives.

Everyone has things they can give. Everyone has needs to be met.

Our philosophy is simple. Money is not needed for everything. With some creativity, we can get many of our needs met through gift-giving, sharing, community-collaboration, and simple kindness and connection. So much of this is within our reach, but our consumer culture has led us to be dependent on money, exclusively, to get our needs met. No longer. Many creative people are establishing new ways to get our needs met in other ways, and The FreeStore is part of that new (and ultimately very old) way of doing things. Won’t you join us? “

For more on Gift Economies this short film “Sacred Economies with Charles Eisenstein” is a good starting point.


July One Planet Market Talk : Natural Burial

by Anne Wharton

Some of us who are concerned about the state of our environment have become increasingly interested in Natural Burial in recent years. For natural burial, the body is prepared without chemical preservatives and a biodegradable coffin or shroud is used. The first natural burial sites were started in the UK about 1993 and there are now over 200 sites there. The original idea of natural burial was to revegetate degraded land and restore it to its former diversity. Anything used for the burial has to be biodegradable. The body is buried at the top level only at a depth of 1.8 metres so the body has much more chance of breaking down quickly than at lower depths.

Enfield103Wirra Wonga at Enfield Cemetery is the only natural burial site in Adelaide. Wirra Wonga which is the Kaurna word for bush grave, has a 99 year lease on burial sites. Six months after the burial, a shrub or tree is planted on the grave, using plants indigenous to the adjacent Folland Park Reserve. There is no physical identification at the burial site but there is a memorial stone with the names of those buried there at the entrance.

Research tells us that on the day of a funeral, cremations have 4 times the emissions of a burial. However, in the long term, burials have a bigger footprint than cremations because of the resources needed to maintain them. For a natural burial at Wirra Wonga, this footprint would probably be a little less.

About 3 years ago I did some research on natural burial and funerals generally, including funeral companies in Adelaide. Come along to the One Planet Market this Saturday, where we will discuss these issues at our Workshop at 10.30. The Market is at Payneham Community Centre and runs from 9am – 12 Noon.