Donnie Maclurcan talks about a post-growth world – SHP012

Episode 12 of The Slow Home Podcast - an interview with Donnie Maclurcan of The Post-Growth Institute

One of the biggest questions I have of the minimalism movement is a somewhat unexpected one: What happens to the world’s economies if we all bought significantly less stuff?

Like it or not, many of the planet’s economies are built, at least in part, on ever-growing levels consumption, so it makes sense that a decrease in buying stuff would have a big impact on things like wealth, employment, government spending, infrastructure…

Honestly, it’s one of the few questions that make me uncomfortable. Which is why today’s episode of The Slow Home Podcast is such an interesting one. 

In today’s show I chat with Donnie Maclurcan, co-founder of The Post Growth Institute and a vocal advocate for a new economy. He is also an Affiliate Professor of Social Science at Southern Oregon University, author of a brand-new book ‘How on Earth?’ and one of the most interesting guests I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing.

I will admit to feeling intimidated before my chat with Donnie, as understanding in-depth economic issues is…not my strong suit. But he is so good at taking incredibly complex ideas and making them accessible and easy to understand. He’s also incredibly passionate about steering the world into a more community-centric, asset-based era.

During our conversation we look at what that actually means in real terms and whether it goes beyond the current trend of the Uber-esque sharing economy (hint: yes, it does).

I came away from our chat feeling hopeful and light and significantly more aware of the issues our world is going to face in the coming years. There is a whole heap of food for thought in this episode, and I really hope you enjoy it.

Today’s show is sponsored by Audible.com. There you can access over 180,000 audiobooks, including Thrive, by Arianna Huffington. Click here to get a free 30-day trial of Audible and claim one free audiobook of your choice.

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What You’ll Hear About  in Today’s Episode:

  • What we mean by ‘post-growth’ and how it applies to our lives today.
  • Why it goes beyond the idea of sharing, à la Uber.
  • Why my idea of a not-for-profit was almost totally wrong, and what a well-run not-for-profit can bring to a community.
  • Why these ideas don’t just apply to small, artisanal producers but can be (and are being) adopted by large corporations.
  • How community is at the heart of a stronger, richer, more sustainable and more supportive economy.

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

17 Responses to Donnie Maclurcan talks about a post-growth world – SHP012

  1. I often think about this too, but I know that we created this need for stuff in the early twentieth century (storyofstuff.org), so I’m positive we can, and will, move beyond it too.
    I’m just not so positive that our politicians will keep up… Going by their response to climate change!

    • Thanks for the link to Story of Stuff, Tara! I haven’t seen that in quite a while and was glad for the reminder!

      I’m with you on the politicians too. I think its going to be up to us and people like Donnie to make the changes that need to happen. Here’s to people power!

  2. Great podcast! I’ve enjoyed them all. I look forward to their release each week. I’m still doing some major decluttering and get a little discouraged at times. Especially with the kids home right now for summer. Every time I turn around there is another mess. These podcasts not only help encourage me to keep going, but I also see a bigger purpose for doing so. Like you said Brooke about simplicity being somewhat self-serving in the beginning it grows into so much more!

    • Thanks Shari, I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying the show. We certainly have a lot of fun putting it together!

      And stick with it! The pay-off is absolutely worthwhile and decluttering will grow into something much more over the coming weeks and months. Then one day you will look around and realise how much things have changed. That’s an awesome feeling. :)

  3. Hi Brooke – loved this interview. I’ve often over-intellectualised the impact of everyone slowing down, lik the impact this would have on livelihoods and the economy. I look at struggling retailers, trying to eek a living. I like the way Donnie describes this as a gradual process, and that the economy will acclimatise. Thanks very much for the podcast series in general -I always listen to them at least twice :)

  4. Thanks for that podcast Brooke. I also felt so much more optimistic and galvanised to continue full steam on this path. I often worried about the economic consequences and my husband and I decided that we were basically selfish because while we were reaping the benefits of slow, we wouldn’t want everyone to do it because someone had to sustain all these businesses that make stuff! Listening to Donnie has really put my mind at rest so thanks again :)

    • But when you do need/want to spend money, think about where you spend it. Are you helping a local family keep their business going or are you giving your money to a big corporation which helps few who need it (and potentially much higher carbon footprint too) You may spend more on the former but maybe for a better product and you know the money is going to the person who deserves it.

  5. But how do you change the mindset of millions (mostly in the west) who think the most important thing in the world is to have the latest iPhone, the latest cosmetic products (whether damaging to the environment or not), to look a certain way, to spend for fun on cheap products transported round the world who don’t think or care where we’re headed (as a species, the planet will survive just fine without humans!!). Sorry to be negative on a fabulously positive blog, but whenever I feel positive I see an ad on TV for some product or for a reality TV show which just shows how shallow and self-centred humans can be! Start young when they’re at school – teach them a different life, but if at home the parents don’t buy into it, chances are the child will lose interest too.

    Ghah! I drive myself nuts sometimes ;)

  6. Hi there, I have just started on my minimalism journey and have started a blog to track my progess. As I’m new, it will be great if you guys could give me some advice. My blog is lightminimalism.wordpress.com Thank you

  7. Hi Brooke, Both my wife and I have been following these podcasts over the couple of months [playing catch up]. We have been inspired, motivated and challenged by the ideas and thoughts that these have brought us. This particular podcast was particularly interesting, having recently [just this year] given up a highly paid job and set up my own business, so that I can ‘slow down’ and spend more time with my family and all that this brings. There are many concepts put across here by Donnie that have resonated with me, my own business and how I will be approaching the work with my clients. Thank you.

  8. Really interesting conversation and ideas… so glad people like Donnie and yourself (and Ben) are thinking about these issues and coming up with ideas and suggestions that are well-considered… thank you! I found myself thinking about the shift I have made (and continue to learn more about and adapt accordingly) to the way that I purchase/consume things… buying locally sourced, ethically made, hand-made vs mass produced – there was that bespoke show on the ABC recently which was really interesting in terms of people wanting to connect to the source a lot more… In know this episode is long since over but I also found myself thinking about Feather and Bone (Marrackville) and Grown and Gathered (Melbourne I think) who are kind of conducting their business in a post-growth kind-of way and wondered if they would be interesting to talk to as a very small and local example of some of these ideas… Thanks always for the inspiration

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