Selling Short

Legislate that full-time workers should work a shorter, 4 day week (or less).

This is an interesting idea from Pat Kane in the Sunday Herald.  It’s interesting in that it brings the impact of living a more sustainable life into people’s lives today.  To me, this has always been a key problem with getting people to act more sustainably because Climate Change is typically framed in a global, negative, future way (see Gidden’s Paradox in the ‘Making Climate Change Fun’ post).  But, by getting people to work a 4 day week with its inherent pros and cons, it makes the issue of sustainability immediate, real and tangible.

By working a 4 day week, people will have more time to spend with friends, family and their community – proven to make you happier than buying more stuff.  And you’ve got less money to buy more stuff.  So, you take away with one hand, but give with the other.

The other thing I like is that a shorter working week is an easier ‘sell’ than the way acting ‘sustainability’ is usually sold.  This is because rather than being about ‘use less’ or ‘have less’, it can be sold on more positive lines like work less or have more time with your friends and family.  It seems a rare ‘sell’ that sustainability can have a positive social benefit on people’s lives today, en masse.

Is all of this social engineering?  Of course, but then it was social engineering – consumerism – that got us in this mess in the first place.

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