GOOD

Shrink Your Super-Sized Life and Become a Better Neighbor

Americans use too much stuff compared to the rest of the world. If each of us cuts down, we will have more space for things that really matter.

Ever take the subway at rush-hour? In New York City where I live, rush-hour commuters regularly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their fellow travelers. They do it because they need to get where they’re going and they know the subway is the most efficient way to get there.


But ever so often, amidst the standing commuters there’s this able-bodied guy sitting down with his legs spread wide. He has his duffle bags on the seats next to him. In an empty midday-train, this would be fine, but at 5pm on the 4 train, the amount of space he occupies doesn’t work.
In many ways, Americans are the spread-legged guy on the train. We comprise 4.5 percent of the world population yet consume at least 20 percent of the planet’s resources. In almost every category of consumption, we use more per capita and in aggregate than any other nation. The planet and its 7 billion inhabitants need to get to a sustainable future, yet Americans still put our duffle bags on the seats next to us.
We need to adjust our lives to the realities of a world population with some serious proportion problems. My latest venture, LifeEdited, is out to address this. We are out to change the way Americans live. We are building smart, small homes and promoting living with less stuff, space and energy. We believe this is not just the right thing to do, but that it’s a better way to live. With less stuff to buy, maintain and keep track of, we can focus on the things that matter most like having great experiences and connecting with others. Using less stuff and space uses fewer of our ever-dwindling natural resources, which both makes sense and gives us peace of mind.
What if we started thinking of the planet as a crowded subway car. Would the way we live be accommodating to our neighbors—even when those neighbors are halfway across the globe? Are we more focused on our personal comfort than everyone’s comfort? Wouldn’t we be more comfortable knowing that comfort was had by all?
This month, challenge a neighbor to GOOD's energy smackdown. Find a neighbor with a household of roughly the same square footage and see who can trim their power bill the most. Throughout February, we'll share ideas and resources for shrinking your household carbon footprint, so join the conversation at good.is/energy.\n
Original Photo via Wikimedia Commons\n
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