Ecologically Sustainable Fun
Non-Consumptive Pleasures -
An awareness game
Young people in trouble sometimes complain they have nothing to
do, they are bored, so what else can you expect? They have not the
money for the discos, shows, records, games and other consumer goods
that they have been advertised into thinking are essential for the
goods-plus life, and which are openly equated to the 'good life',
that once meant high virtue. Easily bored people have usually had
their sensibilities blunted, so they need raw excitement in order to
have pleasure and thrills. Sometimes it is a 'macho' thing too -
having learnt a definition of 'man' that requires raw excitement.
Any group at risk to dangerous boredom, or any group at all, can
play the awareness-arousing game of finding 'pleasures that are
The basic principles are to try to
- minimise wasting the finite and
diminishing resources of the world.
- while at the same time maximise
Everyone individually, or in groups or pairs, and using recycled
paper or backs of used paper or cards, takes up to ten minutes to
list ten pleasures that they enjoy or
would like to enjoy. Then score each one out of ten for the amount of
'resource-wasting' it must involve, and list any resource-wasting it
might involve which could be prevented. The lower the score, the more
NC the pleasure.
After ten minute or so, collect and list up the ideas,
lowest-scoring first, and leave a column for the 'possible waste'
that could or cant be avoided. After talking over, everyone can make
their own list from the total list , selecting what they think could
be the best NCPleasures for them. So they get a lot of good ideas
from other people about how to avoid boredom at least expense to
oneself and the rest of the world.
- Ratings for Non-consumptive
- Ratings for likely cost and access for those taking part. For
example, bee-keeping and horse-riding could be quite out of the
question for cost and facilities.
Possibly Scoring 10 for
- the pleasures of breathing fresh air in the country
- sea-bathing and surfing,
- collecting empty shells or other beachcombin
- hiking (no litter),bushwalking,
- playing most team sports that don't necessarily involve
personal violence (which 'wastes people' by damaging them),
- friendships, love and affection
- climbing, canoeing, running, horse-riding
- picnic in the park - the 'park' part of it
- politics in the pub
Possibly Scoring 9
- would be most eating and
drinking, since on the one hand they do consume products,
but on the other, they are necessary pleasures.
However, some eating and drinking is more ecologically and/or
humanely undesirable and would lose
marks - eg caviar, pate-de-fois-gras, live-boiled lobsters,
veal, flesh of rare and threatened creatures such as whales and
turtles... (For a vegetarian group, of course, all flesh products
would score too high.) Some products come in ecologically undesirable
throwaway containers, and that would give them lower scores -e.g. some takeaway containers.
- Reading books requires paper, so
there is a score of l there too, but if the books are throwaway,
the score goes lower, and newspapers and magazines are lower
Some other scoring considerations
- Writing, outdoor sketching and
painting aren't wasters, but graffiti
can score badly if done by aerosols, and still not too well
if using up too much in paints and marking fluids. Outdoor sketching, writing, woodcarving, and most
modelling would score well.
- Arcade games may score low as
ecologically OK, (but there may be a counter-score of personal
cost in quick loss of money).
- Riding trains in groups can be OK
if not involving damaging people or things, coach and train tours are also ecologically OK but joyriding and car travel score poorly.
Bike racing scores well, motorbike
racing scores poorly, and drag and other sorts of racing car races score
nearly 0 for waste. When smashing is an essential element, they
can score minus.
- Picnics, barbecues, parties, and
excursions that don't involve waste, litter or damage score
well. So does just talking and being with
friends, or thinking in
solitude, or growing things in
gardens. The scores for making or listening to music depend on whether any environmental
nuisance results for others. Singing,
acting, poetry, dancing . . . likewise.
- As for sex, there can be some
discussion of what scores what - since some forms can be very
expensive in human cost and consequences - the distinction between
love and lust can be relevant.
- Some pets are expensive and even
destructive to wildlife, childlife or oldfolk, and some pets
consume much more than others.
- Most Do-It-Yourself handiwork is
pleasurable, adds to the pleasures of other people and does not
consume much in the way of non-renewables - but high scores go to
using rare woods, or throwing out old stuff to the tip if it could
- Mind-altering drugs have aspects
for discussion - not only the costs to the individual consumers,
but also for other people, including the diversion from food
production in poor countries, and the care of those who prove
vulnerable and damaged.
- Voluntary work in the community,
clubs and political involvement can score well, as long as there
is not too much waste of paper.
- It is possible to find work a
pleasure when the conditions are right. What conditions
need to be right for different people?
And so on. You get the idea.
By the time the session is over, there should be lists of
pleasurable things to do so long that bored people could even spend
time reading them and choosing where to start.
And of course, there is no need to play this game as a formal game
- it is something to talk about, as a
non-consumptive pleasure in itself.
If at the end of all this, discussants still feel they have
nothing non-consumptive that they themselves would want to do, then
they have a problem rather than the world that they feel is boring. A
lot of trouble happens for people when they are incurably bored
Solving this problem is another game, and perhaps everyone should
read Eric Berne's 'Games People Play'..
Not being bored is partly a matter of
intelligence - because intelligent people have innate curiosity and
tenacity, and are only bored when they have to sit somewhere that is
wasting their time when they have so many better things they want to
do. Even then, they can often work out 'pass-times' such as
interesting doodling, mental play, or practising portrait-sketching.
So curing boredom and improving intelligence are much the same thing.