TCOLab's The Journal #14 – Why Degrowth Matters

Each month, TCOLab publishes The Journal, a newsletter tracking the shifts and drivers impacting culture.

Culture is always fast-paced and ever-evolving but in these times of radical change and upheaval, it’s moving at extraordinary speed. At TCOLab, our mission remains the same throughout the crisis and beyond – to help brands adapt to this changing future/futures.

If you’d like to subscribe for the next issues you can click here, and if you’re a brand or business interested in learning more about the Lab and understanding how we can work collaboratively, email:

TCOLab Journal 14: Why Degrowth Matters

Welcome to Issue 14 of The Journal from TCOLab, exploring global shifts, trends and wave-makers shaping and defining emerging culture.

It is projected that if the US economy continues to grow at its current rate it will have doubled in size by 2055, and 100 years from now it will be almost eight times its present size. Meanwhile, new research suggests we will cross the threshold for dangerous global warming as early as 2027, with huge numbers of plants, insect species and vertebrate threatened with extinction within a century.

Degrowth is a social, political and economic movement that challenges the assumption that our planet has infinite resources and can sustain rates of consumption and economic expansion without a catastrophic collapse of our natural ecosystems. It critiques the idea that continued economic expansion leads to prosperity and wellbeing for all. The movement can be traced back to the 19th century but has gained increased attention in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has exposed and amplified deep disparities in people's access to healthcare, education and job security.

In its modern iteration, the Degrowth movement prioritises social and ecological wellbeing over GDP through measures such as jobs for everyone, a universal basic income and a shorter working week. It also calls for a redistribution of wealth and resources to smaller economies and for investment in sectors that are more relevant to future planet and people health and happiness, such as renewable energy and public transportation.

In our think piece No New Normal we explore the shifting priorities and behaviours of consumers in the age of Covid and new indicators of prosperity, and why offering comfort, community and security will be key for brands and businesses looking to succeed moving forward. 'Normal' wasn't working for us before and we shouldn't return to that.

Grow by Studio Roosegaarde

On Our Radar

IKEA is collaborating with Swedish city Helsingborg on a project exploring innovative yet practical and affordable solutions for sustainable living.

David Hockney's new book Spring Cannot be Cancelled serves as an uplifting manifesto on the importance of our reconnection with art and nature.

Studio Roosegaarde's artwork Grow highlights the importance of innovation in agriculture, with a light installation that helps plants grow more sustainably.

The Billion Seconds Institute is a new knowledge-sharing initiative exploring the mental, social and environmental impacts of the digital economy.

Vente a Vivir a un Pueblo is a platform connecting city-dwellers with rural towns and villages in Spain to work remotely from or move to permanently.

Follow This

We've featured Flock Together a few times, both on Huck and TCOLab – the bird watching collective's latest venture Flock Together Academy is an educational programme, in partnership with London Wildlife Trust, to teach children about nature and ecology. It's a project we love and one that feels especially pertinent during these times of social isolation, with many young people living in cities unable to access green spaces, as well as spending so much time away from school this year.

Average house prices in Auckland, New Zealand have grown by 18% over the past 12 months, reflecting its positive handling of the pandemic and people's growing desire to live in countries that prioritise health and wellbeing.

The Wealth Report, 2021 – commissioned by Knight Frank

The Long Reads

Writer Yolanda Wisher and photographer Jessica Lehrman pays tribute to touch and dancing in an opinion piece for The New York Times, We Were Born to be Kissed in the Dark.

What’s On This Month

  1. Kusama: Cosmic Nature at New York's Botanical Gardens explores the artist's appreciation of nature and the life cycles of plants and flowers – until October 31st.
  2. Live theatre show Dream reimagines Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream and stars Nick Cave as a talking forest – produced by Manchester International Festival.
  3. Desert X is back for its third edition, commissioning site-specific art works and experiences in response to the California desert – until May 16th.

Degrowth isn't negative growth. The 'de' part confronts, criticises, and calls for alternatives to what we consider to be our times' dominant ideology. This ideology of economic growth has taken the role, almost, of religion in a secular era. Not only in the economy but us personally — each one of us, in our life and business, believe we should grow. Degrowth is a critique of this whole ideology. Degrowth is a de to growth with a capital G, like the de of decolonisation, a de in the active fight for liberation.

Giorgos Kallis speaking to fashion curator Shonagh Marshall, March 2021
Ecological economist
Back to blog
Get in touch
Sign up to our newsletter