100 Hearts and Habits: Making Our Impacts Positive

Making Our Impacts Positive

  1.  The affluent in this world consume too much; the poorest do not have enough. Yet as countries and cultures successfully conquP1200365er poverty, they may follow the same path as the affluent. This planet does not have enough resources for all 7 billion people living as the affluent currently do. Population will grow to 9-10 billion and then stabilise, but if material consumption grows too, this planet will not cope.
  2. It will break.
  3. There are many visible signs: plastic pollution in the oceans and on the shores, species lost forever, smog in cities, chemical pollution of water, soils eroded. And climate change, still contested by many as a tissue of lies or not human-induced, is still wholly to strike.
  4. Before the industrial revolution, the atmosphere contained 280 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2). In 2014, it reached 400 ppm. It is increasing at 2 ppm per year; in one more human generation it will have reached 450 ppm. Many believe that 350 ppm is the safe operating limit for humanity. Our economies and cultures will not tolerate more than 450.
  5. There are three urgent requirements for those in affluent countries:
      • Reduce total and per person material consumption (MC) – reduce impact.
      • Substitute environmentally sustainable consumption for MC (ESC)- go green.
      • Substitute sustainable behaviours involving non-material consumption activities for MC (SBs-NMC) – consume by engaging with nature and community.

ESC activities that could help decarbonise the planet include sustainably produced food, renewable energy sources, electric and automated vehicles, integrated water and sewage management, bio-oil synthesis, zero-emissions housing, seawater desalinisation, wearable robotics, vertical farms, and self-diagnosing materials.

SBs-NMC activities and behaviours that are proven to increase well-being and happiness include activities in nature (e.g. gardening, angling, walking) and activities in communities (e.g. volunteering, sports, meetings, community ceremonies and rituals).

Two recent papers[1] have shown that individuals in affluent countries consume 10-100 times more resources than those in poor countries (see Table 1), and that the costs of affluence are being felt in lowered well-being and happiness.

Table 1: Consumption patterns in five baskets of countries

CO2 emissions (t/capita/yr)

Domestic water use (l/capita/day)

Meat consumption (kg/capita/yr)

Vehicles per 100 people

Affluent N America-Europe-Oceania (USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Australia, NZ, Canada, Netherlands)





Affluent Asia(Japan, Korea, Singapore)





BRICs(Brazil, Russia, India, China)





Resource Extractors(Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE)





Poorest FiveLiberia, Chad, Mozambique, Burundi, Niger)






Two new 2014 and 2015 edited books from University of Essex academics will expand these areas by addressing sustainable ways of living and the benefits of sustainable behaviours characterised by green exercise:

i. Ecocultures: Blueprints for Sustainable Communities by Steffen Boehm, Zareen Pervez Bharucha and Jules Pretty (eds) (Routledge-Earthscan);

ii. Green Exercise: Linking Nature, Health and Well-Being by Jo Barton, Rachel Bragg, Carly Wood and Jules Pretty (eds) (Routledge-Earthscan)


We conclude that people in affluent countries must reduce their material consumption (MC) by at least 10 fold.

We will begin by offering 100 ideas that will reshape Hearts and Habits over the course of a year to achieve a 10 fold change.

If enough people each adopt just 10 of the 100 H&H ideas, then the world can change.

You will be happier.

The world will survive.

Join the new 100Hearts&Habits club now.





A Hundred Hearts and Habits: A 100 Club to Keep the World from the Edge of Extinction

[1] Pretty J. 2013. The consumption of a finite planet: well-being, convergence, divergence, and the nascent green economy. Environmental and Resource Economics 55 (4), 475-499 .

Pretty J, Barton J, Bharucha Z, Bragg R, Pencheon D, Wood C and Depledge M D. 2015.  Improving health and well-being independently of GDP: Dividends of greener and prosocial economies (submitted).