Peggy Liu, founder of the Joint U.S-China Collaboration on Clean Energy says that the “conspicuous consumption epitomized by the American ‘success story’ cannot be followed by China, or the planet will be stripped bare of the natural resources to make all that the Chinese consumers want to consume.”
Know just a few trends and you will realize the sobering truth. China’s middle class of 300 million is expected to reach 800 million in a dozen years. Between now and 2020, China plans to build 225 new cities with a minimum population of one million year each. It is projected that because of Shanghai’s growth, it will not have enough water in seven years.
On the other hand, the Chinese way of success could be revolutionary and sustainable as it breaks the tie between income growth and rising resource consumption. Liu and her cohorts have sought to develop sustainable habits in the emergent Chinese consuming class by redefining personal prosperity, which means “not necessarily ‘owning’ better products and services, but also by ‘sharing’ so that everyone gets a piece of a better pie and everyone wins.” She continues, “the government must have a plan to steer consumer behavior toward a sustainable path, but it doesn’t yet.”
As Thomas Friedman, prize-winning author of “The World is Flat, says, “Americans and Europeans also need to rethink how to sustain rising middle classes with rising incomes in a warming world, otherwise the convergence of warming, consuming and crowding will mean we grow ourselves to death.”
The purpose of my work is to connect our expanding expectations of prosperity with a more sustainable lifestyle and set of values in China and in the world. My new book, “Sustainable Life: The New Success” redefines success as sustainability. It is impossible to have a sustainable world that can survive without changing people’s expectations and behaviors. This is what my book and my work seek to do –.
grow ourselves with a new set of skill that I call the “sustain-abilities,” which create a healthy, balanced and whole way of life.
This sustainable way of life is about quality of life not quantity of stuff and more stuff.
It’s about creativity and creation as the new consumption.
It’s about living in harmony with nature, and sharing with others.
It’s about aliveness – living well and living long, able to continuously restore, recharge and renew yourself.
It’s about valuing your legacy in the long-term and not just short-term gratification.