Earth Overshoot Day and the Retirement Crisis


August 13th was Earth Overshoot Day. Less than eight months into 2015, mankind had already gobbled through a year’s worth of the Earth’s resources.

This got me thinking about whether the demands of the planet and the demands of the retirement crisis might just overlap.

Today, even boomers who’ve had successful careers are worried about their future. Very few of us have managed to save the 10-20 times our annual working income financial planners tell us we’ll need to maintain our standard of living.

So whether you’re trying to make ends meet on the upkeep of your starter castle or a more modest abode, millions of us pre-retirees will be facing the likelihood and increasingly the reality of downward mobility in old age.

Now we can go kicking and screaming or come to terms with what, for many of us, is the “new real.” The economics of aging is forcing millions of us to live more frugally, and redefine what is enough. We can no longer afford lifestyles based on the accumulation of stuff and more stuff.

But wait… isn’t this the direction we should be going anyway? Isn’t this what Earth Overshoot Day is all about , reminding us that we’re already over utilizing the Earth’s renewable resources and should be trying to figure out how to make good with less?

The problem is that right now downsizing to most of us looks like depravation and loss.  That’s why we hate it.

Small is not beautiful. It is living in a shoebox without windows and paying $1,800 month for the privilege.

We don’t want that.

I believe more of us could embrace “small” if it were well designed, efficient, sustainable and affordable.

We want the all grown up version of Ikea, but with sturdier furniture, comfort height seating, and yes, ditch the bunk beds. 

This is where we need you real estate developers, corporate brand managers, marketers and product designers to come in. What is your plus fifty strategy? We don’t want drab institutional accommodations with dim lit hallways and weird prepackaged food. Nor do we want the same hearing aids and walkers that our parents had.

And speaking of hearing aids, I just stumbled across a 5 star review for Audicus hearing aids

Hearing aids as “jewelry — I thought wow, if I needed hearing aids, this is what I’d want – functional, beautiful, and affordable. Product designers, marketers, we want innovation. We want more stuff like this!

Yes, millions of us boomers are on a budget, but that doesn’t mean we want to compromise our quality of life. Green design and construction can help the planet and help us stretch our retirement dollars by lowering our utility costs. We want more cool, ecologically friendly, affordable products and services for older adults.

And please, puleeeze don’t tell us there is no demand. We’re old enough to remember when Detroit automakers thought there was no appetite for gasoline sipping, fuel efficient cars. And we all know how that turned out.

Build it and we will come…


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