The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

26 June 2007

Workers of the World Relax

Conrad Schmidt, a Canadian, has the idea that we should work less, consume less and live more.

There are approximately 6.5 billion people on the earth today. As population continues to grow it is becoming clear that the planet is not as big as we once thought it to be; it is also becoming obvious that humans are wreaking havoc upon the environment. The big question we have been trying to solve for the past 100 years is, "how do we maximize production and produce more and more stuff?" The big question we now face is, "what do we do with all the junk and pollution we have created?".

To make matters worse, we now seem more determined than ever to work harder and produce more stuff, which creates this bizarre paradox: we are proudly breaking our backs to decrease the carrying capacity of the planet.

So what is the solution? A great beginning would be to reduce the industrial workweek. We would consume less, produce less, work less, pollute less and live more. Providing that the remaining work be distributed among more people, an industrial slow-down could have the additional benefit of reducing unemployment. Instead of less work for more pay, this is about less work for fair pay and a fairer world.

Conrad has formed the Work Less Party to campaign in Canada for a 32-hour working week in order to reduce our environmental footprint and to share out less work amongst more people. Instead on focusing on the current industrial goals of continuously raising production and making an endless stream of consumer goods that just end up in landfills and pollute the planet, Conrad believes that we should start promoting activities that are not only good for us, but good for the environment as well ¬– like community, arts, music, health, culture, friendships, adventure and education.

Karl Marx urged Workers of the World to Unite – “You have nothing to lose but your chains”. Conrad Schmidt urges Workers of the World to relax – “You have nothing to gain but more freedom”.

The Word Less Party:

What can you do?
1. Downshift in your own life. Move down a gear. Work less, relax more, care more about the planet. See the links below on downshifting.
2. Share your job with someone else. Halve your work for half the pay, but give yourself twice the time to enjoy life or to follow your dreams for a better world.
3. Renounce. The next time you go out to buy something – the latest iPod, a new shirt, bottled of water… ask yourself if you really need it, if you need to buy it. Cut consumption a little, and you will cut your need to earn by a little more (because you are also working to pay taxes to the government).

National Downshifting Week:
Carl Honore’s book “In Praise of Slow”:


Blogger Tracey Smith said...

Hi Michael,

Thanks for raising awareness of National Downshifting Week!

Next week marks the start of NDW USA - I am incredibly excited about making a difference by elevating awareness of simple, green living across the pond.

Wishing you all the best,
Tracey Smith

10:12 pm  

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