Ted Trainer

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Ted Trainer
Born 1941 (age 75–76)
Years active 1975 - present
Website thesimplerway.info
Academic background
Education PhD
Alma mater University of Sydney
Thesis title A study of orientations to social rules: with special reference to autonomy and some educational implications
Thesis year 1975
Academic work
Institutions University of New South Wales

Ted (F.E.) Trainer (born 1941) is an Australian academic, and an advocate of economic de-growth, simple living, and 'conserver' lifestyles.


Trainer grew up in Sydney, Australia. He has a PhD from the University of Sydney ("A study of orientations to social rules: with special reference to autonomy and some educational implications", 1975) and lectured in education at the University of New South Wales from the 1970s. In the 1980s he shifted gears to join the growing environmental and limits to growth movement in Australia, and became a frequent speaker and activist, largely in New South Wales. He has remained teaching at UNSW for several decades, working part-time and usually delivering an undergraduate course on global problems. He is currently Honorary Adjunct Associate Professor in Social Work at UNSW, and also a member of the Melbourne-based Simplicity Institute.

His practical energy has been thrown into Pigface Point, an alternative lifestyle educational site on a swampy meander of the St.George's River 20 km from Sydney, near East Hills/Voyager Point. Trainer lives there with his family, practising voluntary simplicity and the art of re-use. He lives partially in a barter and subsistence economy, and built a house and the grounds from recycled materials and manual labour.[1] His household uses 2% of average Australian electricity consumption and he rarely travels[2] Photos show the extent of the property, which was originally purchased by his father in 1940.[3]


A prolific author, Trainer has published widely[4] on global problems, sustainability issues, radical critiques of the economy, alternative social forms, and the transition to them. He has written numerous books and articles on these topics, listed blow.

His theory of social change is called "The Simpler Way".[5][6] He argues " A sustainable world order is not possible unless we move to much less production and consumption, and much less affluent lifestyles within a steady-state economic system."[7] In The Conserver Society he outlines what such a world would look like, based around intelligent and networked eco-villages providing healthy lifestyles, work and education with much-lowered net consumption.

His calculations of global energy demand, given in Trainer 2007, suggest any shift to renewable energy will have to be accompanied by a radical decrease in global demand, since renewables could not cope with expanding demand.[8][9]

He maintains a large website of materials for critical global educators.[7] His ideas, pursued in conferences and academic publications, on less resource use and lowered population have distanced him from some idealistic environmentalists, Marxist thinkers wanting to continue industrialism, as well as from pro-growth supporters of individualistic free markets and economic growth.


  • Trainer, F.E. 2010. The transition: getting to a sustainable and just world. Sydney: Environbooks.
  • Trainer, F.E. 2007. Renewable Energy Cannot Sustain a Consumer Society. Springer.
  • Trainer, F.E. 2001. We must move to the simpler way: an outline of the global situation, the sustainable alternative society, and the transition to it. Burton, S.A.: Critical Times Publishing.
  • Trainer, F.E. 1998. Saving the Environment: What It Will Take. New South Wales University Press.
  • Trainer, F.E. 1995. Towards a sustainable economy. Sydney: Environbooks.
  • Trainer, F.E. 1995. The Conserver Society: alternatives for sustainability.[10]. London: Zed.
  • Trainer, F.E. 1991. The Nature of Morality: An Introduction to the Subjectivist Perspective. Aldershot: Avebury Press.
  • Trainer, F.E. 1989. Developed to Death: Rethinking Third World Development. Devon: GreenPrint.
  • Trainer, F.E. 1985. Abandon Affluence!. London: Zed.
  • Trainer, F.E. 1984. Third world development. Series: Critical social issues. School of Education, University of New South Wales
  • Trainer, F.E. 1982. Dimensions of moral thought. Sydney: New South Wales University Press.


  1. ^ Trainer, Ted. "Pigface Point". UNSW School of Social Sciences. Retrieved February 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ Trainer, Ted. "The way I live". UNSW School of Social Sciences. Retrieved February 19, 2014. 
  3. ^ Trainer, Ted. "Pigface Point; A Guided Tour in Pictures". UNSW School of Social Sciences. Retrieved February 19, 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Simpler Way - Main Intro". socialsciences.arts.unsw.edu.au. Retrieved 2014-02-09. 
  5. ^ Samuel Alexander (June 5, 2012). "Ted Trainer and the Simpler Way". permaculture.org.au. Retrieved February 19, 2014. 
  6. ^ Trainer, Ted (November 4, 2013). "Why a consumer society can't fix the climate". Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved February 19, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "The Simpler Way - Main Intro". ssis.arts.unsw.edu.au. Retrieved 2014-02-09. 
  8. ^ Ted Trainer (November 8, 2011). "The problem is consumer-capitalism". Green Left Weekly. Retrieved 2014-02-09. 
  9. ^ Ted Trainer, "Renewable Energy: No Solution for Consumer Society," The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Vol.3, No.1 (January 2007).
  10. ^ Trainer, F.E. (1995). The Conserver Society: Alternatives for Sustainability. Zed Books. ISBN 9781856492768.