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Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints On a Finite Earth, by Jim Merkel. Many people feel the need to change their own lifestyles as a tangible way of transforming our unsustainable culture.

Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints On a Finite Earth, by Jim Merkel.

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Many people feel the need to change their own lifestyles as a tangible way of transforming our unsustainable culture. Radical Simplicity is the first book to guide you toward a personal sustainable goal, and then offer a way to lower your footprint to be more equitable among all people, species, and generations. These tools enable you to customize your own journey to sustainability. (Printed on recycled paper.)

Imagine you are first in line at a potluck buffet. The spread includes not just food and water, but all the materials needed for shelter, clothing, healthcare, and education. How do you know how much to take? How much is enough to leave for your neighbors behind you-not just the six billion people, but the wildlife, and the as-yet-unborn? In the face of looming ecological disaster, many people feel the need to change their own lifestyles as a tangible way of transforming our unsustainable culture. "Radical Simplicity "is the first book that guides the reader to a personal sustainability goal, then offers a process to monitor progress to a lifestyle that is equitable amongst all people, species, and generations. It employs three tools to help readers begin their customized journey to simplicity: >It builds on steps from Your Money or Your Life so readers can design their own personal economics to save money, get free of debt, and align their work with their values. It uses refined tools from Our Ecological Footprint so readers can measure how much nature is needed to supply all they consume and absorb their waste.

Combining lyrical narrative, compassionate advocacy, and absorbing science, "Radical Simplicity" is a practical, personal answer to twenty-first century challenges that will appeal as much to Cultural Creatives and students as to spiritual seekers, policy makers, and sustainability professionals.Jim Merkel quit his job as a military engineer following the Exxon Valdez disaster and has since worked to developtools for personal and societal sustainability. He founded the Global Living Project to further this work and conducts workshops around North America on this topic.

Sometimes it’s easier not to know. It’s comfortable to have a vague idea that a bit of recycling and fewer miles in the car constitute sustainable living. Those who are satisfied with a few small things should not read Jim Merkel’s Radical Simplicity. The book is radical in both meanings of the word: Merkel’s analysis is both revolutionary and directed at the roots of our way of life.

Merkel starkly outlines the unsustainability of our current path. Were the productive acreage of the Earth divided evenly among its human inhabitants, each would get 4.7 acres. If all humans used their full 4.7 acres, nothing would remain for the other species. The average American consumes the productive capacity of nearly 25 acres. Put another way, America’s 300 million people consume the share of more than 1.5 billion people (or more than 5 times their fair share). Merkel notes that his $5,000-a-year lifestyle—unimaginable poverty for most Americans—ranks him in the wealthiest 17 percent of all humans.

Is it even possible to reduce one’s ecological footprint by more than 80 percent? Merkel forthrightly admits having the same question when he began to attempt it. He also admits that he’s not there yet, although his ecological footprint is now three acres, small enough that if every human did the same, there would still be something left to support non-human life. He recognizes the tension between the impulse to sustainable living and the pervasive culture of consumption.

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