What Can Sustainable Awareness Teach Us About Overconsumption 6 Easy Tips
Learn why sustainable consumption is so important and 6 easy tips to implement more sustainability into your lifestyle right away.
Alright… Me, you, your distant cousin — even your goldfish — we all know the importance of sustainability. This is not exactly a new thing.
So we won’t bore you with what you already know.
Rather, we’d prefer diving deeper into how mindless consumerism is negatively affecting our planet.
Listen, the world is packed! And humans are creatures who tend to consume more than they need without taking into consideration the impact this has on the environment (I mean, who doesn’t love an ‘all-you-can-eat sushi’ restaurant or renewing your wardrobe without hesitation because it’s so affordable to buy new things at Zara?).
In one way or another, we’re all guilty of our consumerism habits. We’ve all been there and done that, so there is no need to go to church and confess your overindulgence just yet.
But here’s the gist: the impact your consuming habits have all comes down to your lifestyle choices.
And for the sake of the planet we share, for our generation and the future ones, it is important to be educated and to make choices that protect our resources and help us live well.
After reading this post, you’ll have a deeper insight into why sustainable consumption is so important. Plus, you’ll learn 6 easy tips to implement more sustainability into your lifestyle right away.
Let’s dive into it.
Why is Overconsumption A Problem
Overconsumption is when resources are used in excess and at a rate that is higher than the production rate. Almost everything we do involves materials that have been extracted, processed, transformed, and often transported across great distances.
Our economy is built around these natural resources (raw material) such as water, wood, gas, oil, metal, and fertile land. Take your iPhone, for instance, it likely contains plastic from a certain place, metal from another, a manufacturing factory elsewhere, etc.
The resources used — combined with the carbon footprint they create — are scary enough on its own. What’s worse: so many times we switch phones for a newer model when the one we currently possess is still in perfect condition.
Everything is just so easy…
…or so it seems.
According to Friends of Earth Europe, “Humans today extract and use around 50% more natural resources than only 30 years ago, at about 60 billion tonnes of raw materials a year”.
The study further claims that inhabitants of rich countries consume up to 10 times more than people in developing countries. North America and Europe alone have by far the biggest material footprints on the planet.
And it’s all a consequence of our lifestyle and status. Bigger houses, dining out habits, driving expensive cars, and our never-ending obsession with buying new technology, clothes, etc. Our consumption patterns are so much a part of our lives that to change them would require a massive cultural shift that affects the entire economy.
“How’’? — you may be wondering?
Well, as economists would note, a drop in demand for products brings on economic recession — or even depression — which in turn can lead to a spike in unemployment (yikes).
Want it or not, consumption is what drives our world. That’s why new gadgets come out all of the time, from the newest iPhone to smaller, faster (ahem, cooler) laptops and tablets. New TVs, coffee machines, all sorts of gadgets.
But, as a consequence, the waste generated from the unnecessary purchases we make is huge.
So this means that on one hand, our purchasing habits keep jobs afloat, but on the other hand, it further contributes to a dire problem around the world.
How Can We Promote Sustainable Consumption
But worry not, my friend. There is a solution! And it’s called sustainable consumption.
Because let’s be honest, we can’t simply stop consuming, be it because we love it or because of how the economy would be affected, as discussed above. However, we can increase consumption awareness and support eco-friendly alternatives.
Simply defined, sustainable consumption is the use of materials, products, energy, and services in a way that their usage minimizes impacts to the environment.
Unlike overconsumption, being eco-aware of Earth’s limited resources while we consume signifies a minimization of waste and pollution. This also means that it’s possible to find solutions that meet our needs and desires without hurting our planet as much.
Gandhi once stated, “there is enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.”
So it really all boils down to a shift in your lifestyle habits.
As stated by Professor Tommy Wiedmann, from the University of New South Wales, “technology can help us to consume more efficiently, i.e. to save energy and resources, but it cannot keep pace with our ever-increasing levels of consumption. (…) we have to change our affluent lifestyles and reduce overconsumption”
6 Easy Ways to Reduce Unnecessary Consumption
So in case you’re unsure where to even start, here are 6 great ways you can easily alter your lifestyle habits for a more sustainable way of living that will have great, positive impacts to the environment.
Invest In a Water Filter
Even though regular tap water is safe to drink, many people don’t like the taste and filtration can provide better-tasting drinking water by removing chlorine, chemicals, and heavy metals. Filtering water might not seem like a lot, but this translates into buying fewer plastic bottles. Plus, you’ll save a good amount of money in doing so.
Avoid Food Waste
Approximately a third of the food produced for human consumption every year gets wasted. Because of all the resources required to grow, transport, and prepare food, this is a huge waste. To combat this, try freezing fruits and vegetables that are not as fresh, be conscious about the portions you cook and what you buy at the store.
Switch To Reusable Products
We can all agree that plastic straws had to go. But instead of buying paper straws as a replacement, experiment using glass or reusable bamboo ones. Another example is instead of using cotton to remove your makeup, why not switch to reusable pads?
Gasoline is a product made from crude oil, a finite natural resource and fossil fuel. Car manufacturing also requires many different kinds of natural resources, including rubber and various metals. Plus, the alternatives to driving can be much healthier, such as cycling or even walking. But if those are not an option where you live, try using public transportation or even carpooling as another more sustainable choice.
Quality Over Quantity
There is no doubt the minimalism trend is here to stay. Indeed, less is more and there is no need to have a drawer filled with clothes you don’t even use, for example. This usually happens when we buy at fast fashion stores — we all have that shirt or dress we only used once because it was so cheap to buy. But by increasing the quality of what you own, you’re likely to feel satisfied with less (and your wallet will thank you).
Support Sustainable Brands
Opting for sustainable brands is always a great way to take care of the planet. These brands consider resources such as material, production, transportation, animals, etc to create their products, even if it comes at a higher cost for them. Sustainable brands are eco-warriors and industry shifters who are trying to make a difference.
If you don’t know where to shop sustainably, Swiss Impact Store is an online marketplace for top international sustainable brands where you find everything from apparel to fashion and other eco-friendly lifestyle items.
“True happiness flows from the possession of wisdom and virtue and not from the possession of external goods.” — Aristotle