We launched our new website in early January. It’s faster, more robust and (hopefully) easier to navigate. Please let us know if you find any broken links or any other problems.
Since 2001, we’ve been developing a huge range of topics covering low-impact technologies, facilities and activities. But with the current economy and money system, no amount of lifestyle change will be enough to avert disaster.
So in 2022, as well as continuing to update and increase our range of practical topics, we’ll also be focusing on how to help build a different kind of (decentralised and mutually-owned) economy and exchange system.
Here’s an overview of our position, with links to go deeper if you want to.
Because humanity’s impact on the ecology of this beautiful and bountiful planet is too high. If we don’t stop damaging ecology, it won’t end well for us. Plenty of environmental sites address this problem with ideas for lifestyle change – from the trivial (switching off lights when you leave the room, recycling etc.) to the profound (building a natural home, becoming an organic smallholder, changing career etc.). Browse our topics for possibly the largest bank of sustainable living resources on the web.
However, although lifestyle change is essential, it’s not enough, because only a small percentage of people will do it, and our economic system is inherently damaging. It consumes too many resources, generates too much waste and destroys too much habitat.
We can’t vote these problems away, because of the ‘democracy problem’; and we can’t solve them with violent revolution (although after the 20th century, not many people believe that we can). We can only solve them by building something new – by transcending to a new kind of economy.
- Practical solutions on the site are science-based, tried and tested, and shown to work; opinions are backed with logical argument and evidence; no conspiracy theories or magical thinking.
- We’re less about criticising what exists (although there is some of that), than about building something new.
- No divisive -isms.
- We want to bring difficult concepts to a wider audience – to simplify them for people with busy working lives.
- New technology, when done well, can help to connect us, to save resources, to decentralise, to sidestep corporations (although when done badly it can do the opposite), but we still need shelter, food, transport, water, energy, nature and community, all of which are very real and physical, rather than digital. Technology must serve the real, physical natural world and real, physical communities – not undermine them.
Principles of the new economy:
- Based on institutions that are as small and decentralised as possible.
- Political neutrality – no ‘left’ or ‘right’ dogma.
- Wealth is retained in communities, rather than being extracted and concentrated, which kills democracy.
- Stability, not perpetual growth, which kills nature.
- Community-based, and built ‘from the edges’ – we’ll get nowhere by challenging the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Über head-on.
- No blueprint, just a direction.
- Absolutely not tied to any particular organisations, parties, ‘leaders’ or movements; only based on the common sense of individuals in communities, regardless of their political and organisational affiliations.
- Requires just a small percentage of the population to get the ball rolling; the majority will join because of the benefits that the new economy brings.
- Resilient to any reaction from the corporate world, including banks and the media, because it’s too dispersed and embedded in communities to be stopped.
Components of the new economy
There are six main strands to the building of this new economy:
- Individuals reskilling and/or doing things for themselves, from growing veg, installing renewables or learning a craft skill to planting a fruit tree, keeping chickens or building a house.
- Co-operatives – including community energy, land co-ops, housing co-ops, food coops, platform co-ops, care coops and credit unions.
- Community-based and/or mutually-owned businesses and institutions, including sole traders, small businesses, employee-owned businesses, building societies, cohousing projects, community land trusts, community-supported agriculture, farmers’ markets etc.
- Community Wealth Building – it’s a specific thing – that requires the involvement of local authorities.
- The Free Software / free internet / open data / digital commons movements.
- Experiments with monetary change; crypto is the best-known, but still concentrates wealth. Mutual Credit is an exchange medium that separates the exchange and store of value functions of money, which helps prevent wealth concentration and doesn’t require perpetual growth. This is crucial for the development of the other sectors.
These approaches keep wealth right where it’s generated, and don’t require perpetual growth. They’re already happening, and they work. We have the beginnings of a new economy – that can be built from the ‘edges’ – in communities.
Building from communities
There are enough committed people to take this new economy mainstream.
Here’s how we can help:
- Browse our 230 topics, choose something that appeals to you, and learn to do it – to provide sustainable products and services for yourself, your family and friends. (NB: apart from our low-impact topics, there are thousands of other skills you could learn, from electrical work or fixing laptops to hairdressing or running a restaurant.)
- If you’re good at it, you enjoy it and you’d like to have a go at providing it for your community (or if you’re already a sole trader, small business, co-op, social enterprise or community group, or even an interested individual), go to Mutual Credit Services to join or help start a local mutual credit club (maybe in partnership with an existing local organisation, like the local authority, an accountant, business network, social enterprise etc.). Offer your products & services in the club. If people want them, it could be the start of a new career, or a boost to an existing one. We’ll be interviewing people who’ve done it, to give tips and advice. Your club will be linked to clubs further afield, in a network covering the entire world.
- Mutual Credit Clubs will have jobs boards for products and services that are required locally, but are not currently provided by members; local businesses can be invited into the club to provide them. If no local businesses provide these products or services, local people can ask the club to invest in them, to re-skill and obtain the tools, equipment and premises to provide them. This investment can be in the form of ‘use-credit obligations’ rather than equity or debt, and so the benefits will remain in the community.
- We’ll also be launching a Lowimpact.org Mutual Credit Network (members can use their directory page as their website if they don’t have one). Anyone can join the Lowimpact.org Mutual Credit Network as well as their local club.
- We’re also working with other co-ops, a) to launch a sister site that helps you to move your consumption from multinational corporations to the new economy, and b) to launch a site that provides a listing of step-by-step guides / toolkits / advice for groups to build mutual institutions that are required in every town (ideal for the investment model mentioned above), such as a:
- Social care co-op
- Co-op grocery store
- Community energy scheme
- Community-supported agriculture scheme
- Housing co-op
- Cohousing project
- Cycle courier co-op
- Community land trust
- Credit union
- Farmers’ market
… and many more. We’ll be interviewing, networking, promoting and helping a wide range of committed and gifted people to ‘replicate and federate’ the infrastructure of this new economy.
Please consider starting to do any of the things above, helping to spread the word, and/or donating or joining us. Contact us if you’d like to help.
The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's
1Mike Eaton January 24th, 2022
Hi Dave and everybody else involved.
Life moves on and from your point of view (and mine) generally in the right direction. I’d just like to give you my support in this (no not a NEW venture) continued venture and Journey you are on. I will admit at first I was rather skeptical but after several vists over the years (heck is it that long) I’ve come to see that whilst maybe not the only way for the world to move forward it is possibly, nay probably, the best! Keep on doing what you seem to be doing well
2Dave Darby January 24th, 2022
Thank you Mr. Walrus.