• Jo Caudron

The Peak Stuff Economy and how it positively contributes to climate change

One of the key questions I address in my book is how we can continue to grow the economy while dealing with the impact of the negative effects that currently translate in climate change challenges. I believe economic growth is a necessary instrument to further emancipate more people, yet we have to find ways to avoid the dramatic side-effects on our planet.


The model I introduce starts from the assumption that our current economy mainly drives on the production of stuff. In order to grow, new stuff needs to be produced, replacing old stuff (that often is still in perfect shape), creating pressure on natural resources, using huge amounts of fossil energy and creating waste afterwards. In the book, I observe how new large corporates try to build value in the solution economy: no longer the sales of physical products, but the billing of solutions is driving growth and value. What if this would become the new normal? What if corporates no longer use tremendous marketing budgets to get you to buy the newest 'thing'? What if they would only want you to use stuff that never becomes yours? In order to create more value, they have to invest in durable goods: the longer the car lasts, the better the furniture is built, the longer your iPhone battery remains healthy, the more service and solution invoices they can send and the more money they make. I call this the Peak Stuff Economy.

This image illustrates the difference between a 'Stuff Economy' and a 'Peak Stuff Economy'. In the first, growth is driven by putting more stuff in the market. In the latter, growth is created by keeping the amount of stuff as limited as possible, selling solutions on top of them.

One of the positive effects of this model is that we put less stress on the planet, on all levels: resources, emissions and waste.

At least, that was my theory. This week I discovered an interesting research report from the European Environmental Bureau or EBB. In this report, they state that longer usage of our electronics (smartphones and the likes) has a huge impact on climate emissions. Using them one year longer would be the equivalent of taking 2.000.000 cars off the roads in Europe for one year. That's like all cars in Denmark. So this is a clear indication of the kind of positive effects a 'Peak Stuff Economy' would have on our planet, without investors have to worry about less value and consumers about less comfort.

Check out the original article on the EEB website.

©2019 by Jo Caudron