Work Less, Save the Environment

A 24-hour workweek will help people and the planet

| September-October 2000

We were promised that this technological society would create leisure time. We were promised that there would be more time because everything would be done by machines. Where is that time now? Western society is working too hard and too much. When you work too much, you destroy too much. If we want to reduce our consumption and restore the environment, we have to work less and be more.

So instead of working eight hours, work six. Let us make a four- or even three-day week. That will save the environment. We will drive less, operate computers less, use environmental resources less. We will have more time for friendships, for family, for celebration, for walking, for gardening.

Negotiate with your employer. Negotiate a six-hour day, a four-day week. You don't need all this money. We now are living under a kind of psychological slavery that dictates that you can't live without lots of money. Money has an important place. Its place is to oil the wheels, to make everything flow. But human beings were not born just to make money. Be ambitious, aim high. The human life is to find meaning, to serve each other, to be spiritually fulfilled.

Try a four-day workweek for one year and see what difference it makes. Negotiate with your company and get a day off that is sacred for yourself.

Satish Kumar, a former Jain monk and activist in India's Gandhian land reform movement, is now editor of Resurgence magazine in England. Adapted from a speech given at a summer 2000 conference on business and sustainability.

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