Consume less than produce

2021-01-24 @Lifestyle

Among the different mantras I appeal to as guides on a day-to-day basis, let me relate the principle of “Consume < Produce”.

It’s more of a heuristic and not without inconsistencies or even contradictions, but remember, such techniques are meant for our individually catered use, as means to an end, not for rigorous academic review.

In the general sense, I evoke “Consume < Produce” to keep myself in balance with regard to my overall ‘utility coefficient’, insuring that I, to varying degrees,

  1. Lean towards an ecologically friendlier footprint
  2. Don’t seek reward without the accompanying effort
  3. Don’t squander
  4. Don’t overindulge in shallow entertainment
  5. Focus on a more meaningful life

First off, I draw inspiration for the mantra from the more traditional hunter-gatherer existence. One wouldn’t eat until after having exercised the labor in producing the ingredients, be it via hunting, growing crop, or whatever direct or indirect physical means necessary.

In the said case, the ‘currency exchange’ between effort and reward is straightforward. However, in modern Western societies, the labor-yield exchange is less intuitive, as we (most persons) don’t hunt or plow, but rather purchase and produce intellectual products of more questionable merit to the earth and mankind.

As for me, the mantra manifests itself in the ways of the following:

Work first, eat after

I don’t eat until about noon, but before that, I ensure to work and produce something of value in some shape, direct or indirect.

It’s entirely individual what you might consider valuable. In my case, it might be as simple as producing some philosophical writing (of strange vocabulary).

Alternatively, it might consist of physical exercise, as many of us aren’t otherwise engaged in physically exerting labor. Bodybuilders and heavy lifters might exempt and eat before hitting the ironworks, but for most of us, I haven’t discovered strong evidence for the need.

I try to precede every meal with work/creation/exercise. However, the first one is of special significance in attaining that sense of alignment with the universe, if you will. (Or alignment with the ‘sphere’, if you prefer the Medieval Cosmology framework).

Don’t overeat

Eat only as much as your body earnestly demands. Thus what you consume concords with your body’s energy expenditure.

It’s a tough one especially for those accustomed to overeating, as the constantly overfed body no longer transmits the proper signals of authentic hunger.

However, with sufficient training and especially with the decreasing of the rhythm (thus providing the mind ample time to digest and reflect), it’s attainable.

For me, overeating evokes a series of aesthetically undesirable visuals. Any one of them suffices to short-circuit any momentary lapse of reason. Not to mention the health implications.

However, if you seek further argument, irrespective of your dogma, the perils of overeating are infused all throughout religion and philosophy: the Bible, the Stoic doctrines and even Pagan myths.

Purchase only what generates value

Most of us that don’t live a self-sufficient life rely on purchases, at least for food and other household supplies. Many, however, purchase far more.

Again, it’s individual, but the guiding principle serves to ensure that whatever you do purchase, directly or indirectly attributes to value production, per your own consideration.

In my case, beyond food, that entails extremely rare purchasing. Technology, if mindfully leveraged (a topic to which I dedicate much of this blog), serves forever. Basic household supplies, even the mechanical sorts, also tend to deliver for lengthy periods.

What do people even purchase nowadays that can’t be facilitated by existing means? Toys, shoes, scarves, superfluous food thermometers, smart coffee drippers, subscriptions, astrological readings, guitar tuners, music downloads, Manga? I suppose. My imagination is scarce in this regard.


How do forms of entertainment align with “Consume < Produce”?

The mantra need not exclude entertainment. In fact, no minimalist doctrine I know preaches a saintly lifestyle.

However, it should compel you to consider the reciprocal value of each form thereof.

Some activities inspire thought, which in turn leads to creativity of potential value. Others serve mainly to suspend thought.

Reading, drawing, sports, music playing/listening, television, film, series, video games, board games, card games, mind games, the games of thrones, all belong to widely varied categories of utility. And each further subdivides into varying degrees subject to application.

It’s up to you to exercise due diligence with how you opt to fill empty space.


Like many techniques, “Consume < Produce” is an abstraction, designed to stimulate a more austere, meaningful and ecologically-friendly existence. If that’s something that appeals to you, make it a constant visual that you evoke and adhere to.

Questions, comments? Connect.