Degrowth of Economy, Regrowth of Ecology

Photograph Source: Adnan Islam – CC BY 2.0

Remember a few years ago when the pandemic and lockdowns slowed the economy and improved the ecology? We should do that again.

Indeed, one easy thing we can do to impede the accelerating ecological disaster unfolding all around us is to designate a few days a month, or a few days a week even, as vacations. But not vacations as practiced in the US these days with so much traveling, traffic, trafficking and consuming. Rather, to ameliorate the catastrophe we would also have to not produce greenhouse gases a few days a week. That’s right, it should be a vacation as described in the book of Exodus, during which people are commanded to abstain from working on the sabbath:

“You shall not do any work…”

Not working, and not producing greenhouse gases, of course, also implies abstaining from using machinery, taking airplanes, and driving cars — except in cases of life-threatening emergencies. Using air conditioning and refrigerators would, of course, be exempted from this prohibition, as would other activities necessary for well-being.

And workers who would lose money because of these vacations should be compensated. Or, better yet, people shouldn’t have to pay for housing and other necessities at all. Housing, for instance, should be free. Imagine how much less work people would be compelled to do if they had fewer bills. And that would lead to less pollution — to less planetary heating, and more planetary healing.

So, when people say there’s nothing we can do to fight this growing catastrophe, tell them: Yes, that’s true. Let’s do nothing. Let’s all do nothing together.

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at and on twitter @elliot_sperber