Interview: Raj Patel

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  December 30, 2009

Won't people just go back to wasting and spending like they were five years ago once the economy bounces back?
We need to get used to a new normal if we're going to live within our limits and live with the consequences of our actions. As far as consumption, that means less meat and a lot less fish since we're on the way to emptying the oceans. It's also about reorganizing the way we value things. The opposite of consumption is not thrift but generosity; if you look at happiness studies, we are happiest when we give things away rather than when we accumulate or when we don't spend. It will be a while before we get out of this recession though, and unemployment isn't going anywhere. This is an opportunity to get ahead with sustainable systems.

Knowing what you know, what's the most painful purchase that you make regularly?
Potato chips are a vice that I'm finding very hard to shake. I love them even though I shouldn't; between the mark-up, the profit that I give to the big food corporations, and the waste that is generated, potato chips are evil.

All things considered — including the value of knowledge — is your book worth more or less than its $14 price tag?
My publishers would like me to say that it's worth every penny, but the best way of getting this book is not to buy it at all, but to get your library to get it and share it.

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