Robots and drones can’t replace us: even more ways to make a living in a green economy

I keep reading articles arguing that we don’t really need human workers anymore, now that machines can produce (and sometimes transport) stuff. It’s often used to call for a basic minimum income, which I support.

But it makes no sense to me. The making of stuff is currently the cornerstone of our economy, but it doesn’t have to be–and it really shouldn’t be, because it’s quite literally unsustainable.

And there’s so, so much work that needs doing–very little of which can be automated.

I’ve already written about twenty ways people could make a meaningful living in a sustainable economy, and I just keep thinking of more. Here are another ten:

1.) Staffing food trucks, especially ones that serve underserved neighborhoods–such as Fresh Food Generation, an exciting new project here in Boston. Food trucks are a great way to provide delicious, healthy food at low prices, since they have less overhead than restaurants, and they can travel to serve different populations.

2.) Picking up food scraps by bike and then turning them into compost, like another new local business, City Compost. If this model became widespread, it could make a huge dent in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by food waste.

3.) Working at haunted houses like the one in this video, and other creative projects that both bring joy to their communities and provide jobs for local young people.

4.) Making processed food products–yes, in the literal sense of the word, which is not inherently a bad thing–such as jam, cheese, butter, bread, baked goods, maple syrup, sauces, dips, canned fruits and vegetables, and candy.

5.) Journalism.

These days, journalism has become a “glamour industry,” one that’s closed to all but the most privileged–but we need the opposite. We need people with diverse backgrounds to report, uncover, analyze, speak truth to power, hold leaders accountable, help us make sense of our world.

6.) Massage therapists, meditation teachers, personal trainers, and fitness instructors who teach everything from aerial acrobatics to Zumba, ballet to burlesque, yoga to water aerobics: to make joyous movement, stress reduction, and physical well-being accessible to as many people as possible.

7.) People who fix things, such as this pop-up repair shop in New York.

8.) Photographers, videographers, event planners, florists, makeup artists, and other local small businesspeople who provide services for celebrations and life events (which I talked about a bit in this post).

9.) Scientists researching diseases and chronic illnesses. There’s so much work still to be done!

10.) Creating organic vegetable gardens in the yards of homes, businesses, and schools, like yet another Boston-area business, Growing for Good. This is a great use of existing resources to build local resilient, sustainable food systems.