A Theory of Consumption

Author: William Lewis Leskinen
A continuing top down non-empirical thought pattern in regards to consumption and its effects on society

Basic Assumptions


  • Nothing is fully consumed during the act of consumption.
  • Waste is a byproduct in all acts of consumption.

Waste & Consumption

Waste is generated during

  • All process that occur during the creation of the resource to be consumed
  • The transportation of the final resource
  • The final act of consumption

Based upon the demand by consumer, all waste should be obligated to the act of final consumption by the end consumer.

Human Consumption

There are two main types of human consumption

  • Necessary and essential to life
  • Voluntary and nonessential to life

Basic needs are essential; all others are nonessential.

The Consumption of Humans

  • An excess of nonessential consumption significantly increases the waste obligated to the end consumer.
  • An over indulgence of the essentials produces an unnecessary obligation to the consumer.

Consumption & the Locality to Resources

  • As the distance from the resource to the final consumption shortens, wasted decreases.
  • Localities close to all the resources essential for life are obligated to less waste.

Consider the number of communities that exist in areas lacking nearly all of the essential resources.
The waste generated per person during all forms of consumption is high in these types of communities.

Waste & Dissipation

  • Small quantities of waste generated within large areas, are naturally dissipated.
  • Densely population areas create high levels of waste that require dissipation systems.

The creation and operation of dissipation systems generate additional waste.

Dissipation Failures

  • The failure of dissipation systems can have an impact on
    • Local areas
    • Adjacent communities
      • that share resources
      • connected by natural dissipation systems
      • connected by man made dissipation systems

Consider high density communities that exist near waste sensitive areas and widely shared essential resources.
These types of communities historically have experienced high impact dissipation failures.
Yet, we continue to build and grow such communities.

The Consumption of Nature

There is one main type of consumption of nature

  • Necessary: Essential to maintain the balance of nature itself

Consumption in Nature

  • When nature is short of a resource, it consumes that resource when it becomes available
  • When and excess of a resource occurs in nature, nature will expel the excess of that resource

Consider the variation of storms in terms of rain or snow fall, as the storm moves toward, over and passes by a large area of water.

Locality to Resources

When the locality of a resource changes

  • The physical area of consumption changes.
  • The physical area of expulsion changes.

Consider communities that have changed were the consumption of water vapor occurs.

Dissipation & Absorption

The ability of nature to absorb what it has expels is governed by

  • Natures need of resource in the area expulsion.
  • The ability of area of expulsion to absorb the resource

Consider the effect that high density communities have on absorption.

Responsibilities & Choices