plastic water bottle waste photo Photo by katerha [CC]

Luxury is something much of the world seems to aspire to without question. It is sold as the pinnacle of personal success, excess, and self-worth.

Luxury seems to equate waste no matter how you look at it. And huge amounts of waste at that; in the form of disposable goods (I can afford to throw perfectly good things away), disposable people and lives, pointless activities (growing lawn in drought-ridden countries, ski resorts in the desert), and even the over-washing of hotel-room towels.

Luxury is relative. It is a matter of degree. Is bottled water a luxury or a necessity? In countries with safe drinking water like Singapore or Australia, flying in French or Italian bottle water is a wasteful luxury. In a country with no safe water supply, bottled filtered water would be a basic necessity. (I think imported branded water is always a wasteful luxury, compared to locally filtered and bottled water.)

We don’t need complex mathematics to work out that this planet cannot afford to aim blindly for the current definition of luxury. And certainly not for every one, or even for most people. Is luxury still relevant, or affordable?

I wonder what is a more realistic and reasonable alternative to aspire to? Do you work in the luxury industry? How can your business redefine luxury? And identify fresh new opportunities at the same time?