The Case for DeGrowth

Charlene Norman
3 min readApr 21, 2024


Like so many of us, my career and work-for-someone-else life could be summed up in one word: MORE. More education, training, money, promotions, profit accumulation, ROI, and wealth. Everything you and I learned, trained for and practiced had the word MORE in front of it.

So, when I began exploring environmental sustainability and climate action, there was a different and puzzling narrative: LESS is more. The new More was LESS. I found this shift in perspective intriguing.

And while I will admit to you that, on first blush, LESS feels intuitively correct, I could not wrap my head around how businesses could jump from MORE to LESS.

Only recently did I become aware of the concept of DeGrowth, which was first introduced in 1972. If you’re unfamiliar with it, that’s understandable. Ideas generally take about fifty years to permeate the public consciousness, and we’re still a good decade away from fully grasping it. However, given our pressing environmental issues, we may not have ten years to spare.

I snagged a very wise guest for this latest series on the podcast. Not only is she my first female expert (alas, the field is so narrow and is dominated by a massive contingent of men), but she is steeped in all things sustainability. Please listen to this three-episode series. Nooshin was born in Tehran, educated in the UK, and clearly walks her talk.

While I am still processing my opinion about DeGrowth, here is what I know.

Mother Nature has four seasons. Spring is the time of fertility, Summer is for growing, Autumn is about reaping, and Winter is dormant and resting. There are four distinct periods, which you can visualize as a wave pattern: Accelerating, Full Out, Decelerating, and Stopped. Our economy has always been designed to accelerate and play full out. No deceleration is allowed, and it can never stop.

Even mere mortals must take a break and sleep for at least four hours every night. Yet we have been taught, trained, and mentored to keep the economy, our industries, and our businesses accelerating and full out. Every. Single. Day. There is no slowdown. There is no full stop.

Degrowth is an interesting concept. It’s about accelerating and decelerating at a much slower speed. The speed is determined by the customer’s wants, as opposed to the business’s desire for greater profits. For example, what if we removed the built-in planned obsolescence and desired consumption patterns and went back to building products and services that worked as advertised, could be repaired, not replaced and lasted for much longer than we tolerate today?

I have never met a customer who said they wanted to replace their automobiles every eight years, their computers every five years, their clothing every two years, and their cell phones every year. And yet, our economy, so many businesses, and almost all of our profit models are built on three concepts — easily expendable or consumable, perishable sooner rather than later, and throw-away.

Degrowth will not be easy — not because it is a difficult concept, but because we have run out of easy fixes. Most humans are not for taking the long road, the lonely road, or even the less travelled road. I think it’s time we do things differently.

Please listen to this new series here and let me know your thoughts.



Charlene Norman

Inspiring good humans to make a difference for all on Planet Earth. Podcast host, author, and community leader. Fanatical about change for the highest good.