The Riot for Austerity was first started in 2007 by Peak Oil writer Sharon Astyk, with the goal of reducing her family’s resource use by 90% of the American average. This was the amount Peak Oil expert George Monbiot predicted those in affluent countries would need to reduce their impact in order to avoid the worst of global warming. The project started as a personal one for Astyk and her family, but quickly took on a life of it’s own as people all over the world joined in the “riot”.
Astyk says the Riot began when she and a friend were discussing their frustration that “no political organization was considering any kind of emissions cuts that even resembled those necessary to limit the damage from climate change”, after the release of the IPCC report in 2007. Now, in 2011 the need to just do something, irrespective of what our governments are or are not doing, feels even more critical.
Well, The Riot is back. Astyk has set up a facebook group and a yahoo group for it, and is asking for people to contribute to decide on “the rules”. Of course, anyone can participate and since no-one is paying you anything for success under the given rules, people are also free to ad lib or adjust things to suit themselves, but as Astyk says, just because something is challenging, or even near impossible, doesn’t mean it’s not worth striving for.
With that in mind, the seven areas for the challenge are
- Transportation Energy
- Other Fuels
- Food, and
- Consumer Goods
In the area of consumer goods Astyk points out that most people buy new most of the time, when we could buy used 90% of the time. She says that the average American spends $11,000 “per year on items that don’t include food, insurance, energy, housing and other necessities”, so the challenge is to spend only $1100 over the year on these items, with the escape clause that used items only count for 10% of their asking price. So, you can still spend $11000, if you buy all used. Which means you would likely be getting far more than $11000 worth of value!
Last time the Riot ran, a vibrant community sprang up around it on the web, and no doubt that will be the case again this time. Cutting 90% of consumption seems like a huge, huge undertaking, but the fact is, it is something worth striving for. Maybe you won’t achieve 90% in every area (Astyk says almost no-one acheived the target for water last time, for instance), but trying will sure be interesting! So why not give it a go?