We currently live in a world of rapidly changing trends, where products and services are designed to be outdated within months so that they will be replaced sooner. Thus, putting more pressure on natural resources from which they are made.
All the materials that we consume- food, furniture, technology devices, fashion apparel, and more, are made from resources gotten naturally or synthesized from the environment. And, while these resources- water, forest, land, or metals are abundant in nature, they are finite. For most of these resources, the rate of replenishment is way slower than the rate at which they are exploited and consumed.
Research shows that we currently consume about 1.6x the equivalent of the natural resources that are available for us annually, a circumstance that is called overconsumption. On the other hand, we generate over 2 billion tonnes of household waste annually, 2.5x what the planet is able to handle. This widespread culture of overconsumption and excessive waste generation is a leading cause of resource constraints and associated conflicts, environmental degradation, and climate change.
GETTING INVOLVED- AS A RESPONSIBLE CONSUMER
As opposed to the culture of fast consumption and almost immediate disposal, responsible consumption keeps material in the system for a longer time. A responsible consumer asks questions and demands that important product information is provided on the product packaging. A responsible consumer’s buying decision takes into account the three (3) core pillars of sustainability- People, Planet, and Profits.
- People- does the product/service about to be purchased have a positive impact on society? Is it linked to a workforce that has fair working conditions and wages? Are the products/services good for the buyer’s health and wellbeing?
- Planet- a responsible consumer also acknowledges the environmental impacts associated with products’ different stages (from its production, transportation, and disposal) and tries to buy the ones with a lower impact.
- Some of the questions to ask to gauge the environmental impact of your purchase are; Is the product made from non-toxic organic raw materials? Is the packaging recycled, recyclable or compostable? Is the product from a cycle that destroys animals and strips land?
- Profit- does it benefit the economy, especially the local economy?
WHY RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION IS IMPORTANT:
Mainstreaming a culture of responsible consumption is paramount to the sustainability of our ecosystem, the very backbone of human survival;
- Reduces exploitation and preserves the natural environment
- Protects biodiversity loss
- Reduces greenhouse gas emission and fights climate change
- Improves local production and economy
- Reduces wastage
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