How Much is Enough? A Panel on Sustainable Consumption









The World Policy Institute,
Demos, and the World Policy Journal present:

How Much is Enough?
A Panel on Sustainable Consumption

Video from Panel:


  • David Abram, founder, Alliance for Wild Ethics and author, Becoming Animal
  • Colin Beavan, author, No Impact Man
  • Sheena Matheiken, founder, Uniform Project  
  • Vicki Robin, author, Your Money or Your Life

With moderator William Powers, author, Twelve by Twelve and special guest John de Graaf, author of Affluenza 

Tuesday, June 28
6:30 to 8:30

220 Fifth Avenue 
New York, NY

It would take five additional planets if everyone in the world were to live at the consumption level of the average American. As the dangers of unchecked climate change become clearer, policymakers, thinkers, and activists around the world are desperately searching for ways to reduce consumption and promote sustainability. At the same time, many in the developing world are moving in the opposite direction, hoping to take full advantage of their newfound purchasing power – a revolution of rising expectations. As these currents collide with the global recession, high unemployment and the rising cost of fuel, we explored the difficult questions: How much is enough? What is a sustainable level of consumption? In this discussion, an esteemed panel explores some of the workable, cross-disciplinary alternatives to the "more-is-better" paradigm, investigating successful movements in green living, and thinking creatively about moving these models into the policy realm.

"How Much Is Enough?" is also the theme of the Summer 2011 issue of World Policy Journal, the flagship publication of the World Policy Institute. The issue, which will be available at the event, features essays by William Powers and Mira Kamdar on excess and simplicity; a conversation with renowned Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto; reports on the new middle class; and fresh thinking on the meaning and measurement of "quality of life."


Following the panel, WPI convened a private roundtable bringing together a select group of people from art to policy, marketing to economics in order to ask: To what extent have attempts to date successfully challenged the current consumption model and created workable alternatives? And when they have failed, why? Finally, how can we create smart strategies to most concretely influence a global paradigm shift 'Beyond the American Dream,' among other ways through reaching across fields and disciplines in fresh ways? 

The discussion of these questions was kicked off with an energizing keynote by John de Graaf, author of the international bestseller Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic.

Please find a final report of the event at the end of this post.

About the Speakers:

Colin Beavan, Ph.D. is author of the book No Impact Man and the subject of the Sundance-selected film of the same name. Named one of MSN's "Ten Most Influential Men" and chosen as an "Eco-Illuminator" by Elle Magazine, Colin has appeared on The Colbert Report, Good Morning America, Nightline, and all the major NPR shows.

Vicki Robin is coauthor of the national best-seller, Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence, available now in eleven languages. Called the prophet of “consumption-downsizers” by the New York Times, Vicki has helped launch many sustainability initiatives including The New Road Map Foundation and the Center for a New American Dream. She co-created the Conversation Cafés, which now have 70 regular meetings in cities across North America and Europe and new ones forming frequently. She lives in the Seattle area.

David Abram, PhD is author of the best-selling, Lannan Award winning Spell of the Sensuous, and the new book Becoming Animal. He is founder and creative director of the Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE). Named by the Utne Reader as one of a hundred visionaries currently transforming the world, he has been the recipient of numerous honors, including fellowships from the Rockefeller and Watson Foundations. He lives in Santa Fe.

Sheena Matheiken founded the Uniform Project, an online creative platform that uses fashion as a vehicle to propagate sustainability and social responsibility in consumer culture. In May 2009, Sheena took on an unusual challenge by pledging to wear the same “little black dress” for a whole year to raise money for the education of children in India. The initiative was featured in news publications, fashion magazines, blogs and TV shows around the world, and Sheena was named one of Elle Magazine's 2009 Women of the Year.

The panel will be moderated by William Powers, World Policy Institute Senior Fellow and author of several books, including the award-winning, Library journal national "green living" bestseller Twelve by Twelve: A One Room Cabin, Off the Grid & Beyond the American Dream.


Tuesday, June 28
6:30 to 8:30 PM
The panel discussion will be accompanied by a light reception.


220 Fifth Avenue (between 26th and 27th streets)
Fifth Floor Conference Room
New York, NY


This event is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required to reserve a seat. RSVP by June 27 to or to the WPI events line at 212 481 5005, Option 2.

About the Sponsors:

The World Policy Institute and World Policy Journal engage fresh ideas and new voices from around the world to address critical shared challenges. They provide a forum for solution-focused policy analysis and public debate toward an inclusive and sustainable global market economy, effective and fair governance, and collaborative approaches to security.

Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action is a non-partisan public policy research and advocacy organization committed to building an America that achieves its highest democratic ideals. They work towards realizing a democracy that is robust and inclusive, with high levels of electoral participation and civic engagement; an economy where prosperity and opportunity are broadly shared and disparity is reduced; and a strong and effective public sector with the capacity to plan for the future and provide for the common good.

Please click here to view the final report for the How Much is Enough? Roundtable.

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