I wrote this article as a sequel to my entry for UNEP/Treehugger World Environment Day Campaign.
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In recent years there have been louder and wider warnings about energy conservation, urging everyone to minimize consumption of resources by reducing the need for excessive energy use. Still, we consume. Still, we demand.
We shop mindlessly, rampantly, grabbing sales items because they’re on sale, or seasonal items because they are ‘limited time only’ (these are all, by the way, marketing ploys). All that without stopping to ask ourselves ‘do I need this’? And it’s done without care or concern about the consequences of those purchases – personal, social, economic or environmental..
We create market demand for products, driving up the supply and the resources necessary for production, thus affecting the goods offered for trade and sale. Producing more and more means that we are using up more and more of non-renewable resources.
Our choices – consumer choices – have a significant impact on the environment.
On the other hand, green consumerism and eco-conscious movements are becoming more trendy and a belief in their ability to improve environmental outcomes is becoming more widely shared. From climate change and the poverty-environment link, to ethical consumerism, there are top celebrities who use their status to direct necessary awareness and support towards these issues.
The aim of conscious consumerism is to encourage the public to be more aware of the environmental impact of their consumption patterns and to encourage manufacturers and retailers to provide ‘environmentally friendly’ alternatives, with the idea that businesses will respond more readily and creatively to positive market signals.
The aim of ethical consumerism is about buying products that do not harm or exploit the environment, people and animals.
Sustainable consumption means consuming (and manufacturing) just as much as we need, using an intended portion of natural resources. However, what we are doing now is using up our quota, as well as tapping into the future rations, while hoping that they will renew themselves in time for the future generations’ intended use.
Not only awareness and understanding, but also willingness on the part of the consumer of goods and services, as well as providers of goods are services, means that the preservation of finite earth resources can be sustainable.
World Environment Day is June 5th.