Why do we conserve only when we’ve over-consumed?

Whenever we’re about to run out of something, that’s when we decide that it’s time to conserve it.

At one of my jobs today, I was shredding documents.  Before starting, I was told that we were out of the plastic liner bags for the machine, so I should manually stuff the contents from the bin into a previously “full” bag to make sure there was a enough space to finish shredding my pile of papers.

When they thought there were more bags, they deemed the bag full.  When it turns out there were no more bags, we suddenly had to conserve space and cram more paper in.

I do it when I’m almost out of minutes on my cellphone plan (usually while swearing at the companies who put me on hold for 30 minutes at a time!).  I have friends who do it when they went out partying one night and over-spent, so they conserve their cash by eating Ramen for week.  Many believe that the only shot we have at our government seriously investing in alternative energy sources will be when we run out of fossil fuels.

But why do we do this?

Why don’t we live like we’re almost out of bags/minutes/cash/energy? 

Because, in all reality, we are almost out.


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