Ecologically Sustainable Fun

Non-Consuming Pleasures - NCP

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 non-consumptive'.

The basic principles are to try to

  • minimise wasting the finite and diminishing resources of the world.
  • while at the same time maximise pleasure.

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 pleasuresthat 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.

Scoring pleasures

  • 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 Non-consuming

  • 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),
  • birdwatching,
  • bee-keeping,
  • scrabble
  • 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 still.

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 be recycled.
  • 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.

Citizens! Be a lively citizen. Take part in current affairs! Write letters instead of grumbling! Keep busy hands active! Minds alive!