The bioregional economy

Reclaiming our local land

Authored by: Molly Scott Cato

The Routledge Companion to Alternative Organization

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415782265
eBook ISBN: 9780203725351
Adobe ISBN: 9781135005399


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This chapter addresses the question of how an alternative economic organization might be conceptualized and developed in response to the need to end economic growth. It begins by offering evidence that economic growth, the shibboleth of capitalist economies, cannot be compatible with sustainability, and that finding ways of divorcing growth from energy and resources, known as ‘decoupling’, cannot be practically achieved. With this in mind, I argue that the globalized economy is wasteful of energy and needs to be replaced by a system of self-reliant local economies. I then propose the ‘bioregion’ as an alternative geographical area by which these local economies could be defined. A bioregion is an area defined by geographical rather than political boundaries; in a bioregional economy each bioregion would seek self-reliance in the provisioning of food, shelter, fuel, clothing and so on, and would also seek to absorb or reuse all its waste products. In a world organized in this way, and which respected the planetary boundary, questions of how resources are shared would become more important. In a bioregional economy, resources are considered to be held in common and shared according to participatory processes. I argue that an economy based within a bioregion could help us replace our present consumer identities, based around the purchase of material possessions, with identities based on closer relationships with each other and with the natural world. I conclude by offering examples of communities that are already on the path of transition to developing sustainable local economies, and throughout the chapter I present case studies of alternative organizations from my home community of Stroud.

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