In 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that his grandkids would work just 15 hours a week. Similarly, in 1965, a Senate subcommittee predicted Americans would be working 14 hours a week by the year 2000, with at least seven weeks of vacation time.
The thought process behind these predictions was that production was so efficient that everyone would have everything they could possibly need by working two days per week, leaving plenty of time for leisure.
Instead, the 40-hour (or more), 5-day workweek prevails. And people (at least in Canada and even more so in the US) aren’t taking nearly as much vacation as predicted.
The problem, in part, was that with increased production also came increased consumption.
After WWII ended, people needed jobs, and places to live and grow their families. To support this transition, there was a big push to get the economy moving through consumption. By consuming more goods and services, people would get to work, make money, and then spend it, creating the consumer cycle we still see today.
If we all consumed a little less, we may just be able to work a little less, too, and enjoy some more leisure time. We could spend more time with family and friends, pursue hobbies, and enjoy the outdoors.
The benefits would be numerous! Less consumption would be better for the planet (and in essence, help slow down climate change), and more leisure time would reduce stress and improve health. Who wouldn’t want those side effects?
Here are 5 ways to use leisure time to combat climate change:
1. Use your vacation time
Actually use your vacation days! Take them and enjoy them. Get out of the rat race that may leave you sick and burnt out, and instead, take some time to rest and put your health first. Using your vacation time doesn’t mean you have to travel far and take an expensive trip. It could be as simple as taking a day off to extend your weekend.
2. Enjoy simple daily pleasures
Grab a coffee and watch the world go by. Play with your children. Take the dog for a walk. Talk to your local grocer. Help your neighbour plant a veggie garden. Do whatever lets you feel alive during your day and soak in the simple moments.
3. Get outdoors
Connecting with nature is essential to developing a passion to protect the environment. As well, spending time in the woods is good for your health! While not everyone has quick and easy access to nature, try finding the closest thing to nature where you live and take the time to appreciate it. Get your thoughts off work and let your mind wander. This is the perfect time for reflection and to practice gratitude in your life.
4. Enjoy time with family and friends
Research shows that human connections are essential to our well-being. When we work too much, our relationships can suffer. Taking time off is the perfect way to open up your calendar for social events.
Help people in your community by volunteering in your spare time. It’ll make you feel good, and others will benefit from your assistance. This will likely also improve your sense of compassion and empathy towards other people (something that social media is notoriously depleting people of).
What do you think? Could more leisure time reduce our contribution to climate change? Share your thoughts with a friend over coffee.