What Degrowth Means in America

5 things to remember about the U.S. context as the degrowth movement takes hold here.

Anna Mercury
6 min readSep 19, 2023
Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

Degrowth is slowly (one might say, at a snail’s pace) catching on. Last year’s IPCC report made reference to the term some 27 times. Scholars around the world are exploring and debating the topic. Academics are churning out titles like The Future Is Degrowth and Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World.

There’s good reason for the lofty titles, too. Despite its (many) detractors, degrowth offers a real vision for the future of human civilization, one that is neither stuck in the same unsustainable thinking as ideas of simply “greening” our existing economic systems, as though this were possible, nor giving into apocalyptic fantasies of civilizational collapse. Degrowth offers a middle path: a means of accepting the realities of our planet’s needs and adapting our lifestyles to fit within them, in a way that could radically benefit us humans, too.

If you’re unfamiliar with degrowth, it’s a macroeconomic framework that views endless economic growth not only as a bad barometer of economic health, but as fundamentally incompatible with the continued survival of our species. Degrowth argues that we can (and should) reduce production and consumption in the economy and reshape the way we distribute…