14/12/2012

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas

We are now getting closer to some special dates for many people: It is time to visit the family, to buy presents, to eat a lot and to have an amazing break from hard working and the routine.  This is brilliant, we all enjoy Christmas, but haven’t you thought about the environmental cost of these dates? Don’t you think there might be some aspects of Christmas that we could change?  On this topic, we are going to speak about how to spend a different Christmas not only thinking in our shelves but in the community and specially on how our actions have an effect on the environment. Ladies and gentleman, we are going to speak about… sustainable Christmas!

The psychological phenomenon called the hedonic treadmill (Brickman & Campbell, 1971) describes the fact that people never find a point when their live is pleasurable and fulfilling. So people keep on a continuous process of possessing and buying  which they think will lead to these goals.

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Outdoor clothing company Patagonia’s campaign for this holidays

Nevertheless, and apart from the negative environmental consequences of consumption, the literature supports the idea that richness and accumulating possessions is detrimental to people’s well-being. According to Chancellor and Lyubomirsky (2011), materialistic individuals are less satisfied more unhappy. Moreover, individuals who give importance to material life also show lower levels of competence, autonomy and life-meaning (Kashdan & Breen, 2007).

I’m not the only one who supports this idea: please, don’t buy what you don’t need! It is not hard to feel the necessity of consuming thousand of products that companies offer to us: advertising make it easier for everyone. Why buying a new Iphone if your current phone is still working fine? Do you really need it? Think again, do you need it? Please, stop being a slave of consumption: there is a big difference between consuming what it is necessary and consumerism. Go for simplicity and don’t depend only on material goods, your quality of life will thank you!

So, what can we do to enjoy our Christmas Holidays on a more sustainable way?

Dunn et al., (2011) give us some recommendation on how to spend our money to make the most of it for our happiness. They encourage us to use our money to benefit others rather than ourselves. Gifting might be a way to do that, so here are my green choices for this Christmas:

Sustainable-Christmas1

Edible gifts, better than physical items: home made jam, chutneys, chocolate or ginger bread are just great examples of more sustainable presents that the typical packed gift.

They also suggest to spend your money on experiences or learning, instead of material products. Why not buying concert or theatre tickets, sports, dinning, hobbies experiences, etc.

Go for a charitable gift: developing country school child sponsorship, a month’s food for a family or even chickens to produce eggs!

You want a material gift? Overpacked plastic gifts shipped from faraway are not the most sustainable option. Buy products that last: stop buying bad quality products that don’t last more than a season. Go for long lasting and timeless products: simple and classic designs would help you on that! Ideas of sustainable Christmas gifts, some more here and even more ideas!

But Christmas is not only about gifting…

Christmas without a tree?

The plastic tree is made from oil and involves a lot of Co2 on its production, but it lasts for some years avoiding the need of buying a new one every year. However once you litter it, there is  little chance of being recycled and would stay on the landfill for a whole live. On the other hand, an actual Christmas tree, helps reducing Co2 on its growth but needs a lot of water and land space to grow. The best choice is to decorate a three that you have at the garden, or some plant at home if you don’t have a garden. The second best option is to use a proper three and re-plant it after Christmas. Anyway wheter a living or plastic tree, turn of its decoration lights at night and switch to led bulbs. They consume 10% of a normal one!

Christmas dinner, yum!

Do you need those dates from Saudi Arabia? Or that Australian wine? Consume locally produced food and avoid exotic items shipped from faraway when and consider them only when no other option exists: they involve a lot of environmental cost in terms of energy spent on their transportation.

I know, that might be a difficult issue for most of us, but we can enjoy some non-animal Christmas meals as well: Reduce meat, fish and seafood from your Christmas diet. Originally having a whole Turkey on these dates represented that special day when we could eat meat. Nowadays there is availability of meat every single day of the year. So, why not taking a chance and demonstrate ourselves that we don’t need that much meat? Why don’t we celebrate with modesty? Introduce a little bit of innovation in your eating habits and open your mind!

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Check this out… Green Santa has a Christmas message for you!!

As a conclusion I will ask a question again. If you think you need something, please think again: do I really need this?

I wish you a happy green Christmas and, as always, I appreciate your comments,

greenConsuming

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07/12/2012

I want to ride my Bicycle!!! (What makes us going green part III)

In the previous two posts we reviewed the influence of some factors that influence people’s green behaviour. First, we talked about how environmental awareness had a positive influence on one’s sustainable consumption patterns. Then we described demographic factors of consumers and concluded that they don’t have an influence on consumer behaviour regarding to sustainable habits.

The literature agrees that psychological variables have more influence than demographics on determining our consumption choices, as we saw on previous posts (Robinson & C. Smith, 2002). So, in this last post of our trilogy, we will follow the line of the first post and continue examining how psychological factors affect consumer behaviour related to sustainability. We will base it on the Theory of Planed Behaviour (Ajzen, 1991).

Theory of Planed Behaviour

This theory is formulated by Ajzen (1991) and argues that intention is a dominant determinant of a subject to perform a specific behaviour, and is influenced by a combination of attitudes, subjective norms, and behavioural control (Robinson & C. Smith, 2002; Voon et al., 2011).

Attitudes

Attitudes are favourable or unfavourable evaluations that individuals form of a specified behaviour and their willingness to act or react in a certain way (Jung, 1971Ajzen, 1991).

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They are based on an individual’s cognitions, beliefs and emotions towards the object (Voon et al., 2011); and they

influence the intentions held in the way that the more favourable the attitude, the greater the intention to perform the behaviour will be (Smith & Paladino, 2010).

Ok, so at first to have intention to perform a sustainable behaviour we need to create positive attitudes toward it. For example, if we want to encourage the people reducing car using to go to work  and promoting alternative transport as cycling or taking public transport, we would start creating  favourable attitude about cycling: we could demonstrate health, economic or environmental benefits of bicycles compared to the car and highlight the cons of car driving, to create negative attitudes towards it.

Subjective Norms

Subjective norms are the perceived social pressures that affect us to perform or not a behaviour (Ajzen, 1991) and it is firmly demonstrated that they have influence on people’s behaviour.

Individuals’ subjective norms reflect their beliefs concerning the way other people, who are important to them, would view them engaging in a concrete behaviour. Moreover, it is suggested that individuals are likely to perform behaviour that is desirable by a referent person or group, due to needs for affiliation and group identification.

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Car parked? Cycling as a norm.

 We could translate this into sustainability: If the peer group show environmental concern or green consumption patterns, it is more likely that an individual that refer to this group as important will show explicit positive behaviour regarding to environmental issues because this is a desirable behaviour for the peer group.

If at the company that I work everybody rides to work or takes public transport instead of driving their cars, it is likely that I would end up using an alternative transportation rather than a car.

Subjective norms are also related to attitudes and affect individuals’ attitude formation of those around them (S. Smith & Paladino, 2010). For example, somebody who has positive attitudes towards sustainability will influence people’s attitudes regarding to it:  if I have positive attitudes about reducing car using, I might influence attitude formation about car using within people around me.

Behavioural Control

Perceived behavioural control regards to individuals’ perceptions on the fact they are able to do a determined behaviour  (Ajzen, 1991). Behind this individual’s perceptions are their beliefs about how easy or difficult is performing a given behaviour and this performance is up to them (Tarkiainen & Sundqvist, 2005).

Where performance of a concrete behaviour is supposed to be relatively easy and within the means of the individual, the willingness to perform the behaviour will be strengthened. As an example, if somebody thinks that separating disposal to recycle is effortless, it is likely that this person will carry on performing this behaviour, rather than if the person thinks distinguishing and separating disposal is hard.

Following our example: If a person thinks driving a car is easier than riding a bicycle or taking public transport, we would not have a lot of chances. However, if the person thinks that alternative transportation, as cycling, is as effortless as driving to work, the likelihood of this behaviour to happen will increase.

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Cycling is easy!

Today we followed the line of the 3 previous post and we have explained psychological causes of somebody’s sustainable (or unsustainable) behaviour.  For that purpose, we have reviewed the Theory of Planed Behaviour, which main point is that a person intention to perform a behaviour is mediated by the attidudes, the subjective norms and the behavioural control of this person towards this specific behaviour. We drew an example -reducing car using and promoting cycling- and applied it for the three aspects of the theory to explain how we can encourage people to change their consumer behaviour toward sustainable consumption patterns.

I’m pleased to read your comments and opinions,

greenConsuming

30/11/2012

Are you a green consumer?

Am I who you are thinking of?

What would it come to your mind if you think of a green consumer? Would you think of a fashionable and modern widowed granmother or, maybe, of a rebel teenager? Maybe a beer drinker in the local pub? A broke 1st year student or an executive from a well-known company? Which profile would fit more to this person know as “green consumer”? Would you maybe think more of the stereotype of a young, liberal, middle-high income woman?

But let’s relay on what scientific literature says and try to draw the demographic profile of the green consumer.

Age

On the field of buying organic food, it is defended that mature consumers have higher tendency to “behave green” (Robinson & C. Smith 2002). On the other hand, some studies say that age is negatively related to willingness to pay for green brands (Zorić & Hrovatin 2012). Therefore, it seems that there is no conclusion among studies and we cannot find any evidence about how old our green consuming would be (Kotchen and Moore, 2007Zarnikau, 2003Zorić & Hrovatin 2012).

Gender

Are ladies greener than gents? Literature shown evidence that male consumers, in a contest of hospitality, were more willing to pay a premium for green products than females  (Kang et al. 2012), but in the field of organic food, Robinson & C. Smith (2002) state that females will be more likely to opt for green choices. Zorić & Hrovatin (2012) confirm that gender, out of other consumer’s characteristics, have no relevancy to explain differences on the willingness to pay for green choices.

If we stick to the literature, we will say that there no consistency about whether one gender usually goes for green choices more than the other.

Educational background

Would you expect that educated citizens would fall more into the cliché of a green consumer? That is what the literature says, at least on the field of willingness to purchase green food (Robinson & C. Smith, 2002). However, other studies agree that educational background has no effect on green consumer behaviour (Zorić & Hrovatin 2012).

Again, there is no congruence among studies, so a specific educational background doesn’t seem a characteristic of our green consumer.

Income

Is the green consumer a “wealthy green consumer”? Some studies demonstrate that consumers with a high income are more likely to purchase green products (Ngobo, 2011) and reflect more willingness to pay higher for these product (Zorić & Hrovatin 2012). However, Kang et al. (2012) suggest that low-income consumers are more affected by environmental problems and then they are more susceptible to environmental issues than consumers with higher income. So low-income consumers would be more happy to go for green options.

So, as it was for the other three factors, we cannot conclude how someone’s income can affect green consumer behaviour.

And then… who is our green consumer?

Sustainability_glasses

On our last blog we said that environmental awareness was very important to expect green consumer behaviour, but it doesn’t seem like that with demographic characteristics. Although we might have our own clichés (couldn’t the woman from the photo above be the perfect example of a green consumer??), if we stick to the literature, there is not apparently a prototypical green consumer. So, our green consumer would be every of us, everyone who is willing to see the future from the optical of sustainability and change their way of life adopting sustainable consumer patterns.

I’m pleased to read your comments and opinions,

greenConsuming

23/11/2012

What makes us going green?

On the last post, our savvy friend Kermitt explained us why being green wasn’t something that comes without effort. People have to work on it, yes, but is it only this? Don’t we need a starting point for this process?

There are some factors that determine if a person is more likely or not to follow a “greenConsuming” lifestyle. We will review these factors in the forthcoming posts, so today we will start with the first of them: consumers’ environmental awareness.

How much knowledge and awareness about environmental issues a consumer has is an essential part to consider for a shift towads green consumer patterns.

According to Grunert & Juhl (1995), an environmentally concerned consumer is a person ‘‘who knows that the production, distribution, use, and disposal of products leads to external costs, and who evaluates such external costs negatively, trying to minimise them by their own behaviour”.

Many other studies show that values related to environmentalism or concern to environmental problems have a positive influence on environmental consumer behaviour and is a relevant motivator for green products’ purchasing intention (S. Smith & Paladino 2010; Patrick Hartmann & Vanessa Apaolaza-Ibáñez 2012). Moreover, in the field of organic food brands, it has been suggested that the growth of organic products availability and consumption has lead to an increase on the environmental concern of the consumers (Huang, 1995).

The growth of green consumer behaviour might affect businesses as well. The literature suggests that concerned consumers and companies which are engaged with environmental issues can establish a correspondence related by this environmental awareness. When this relationship is established, consumers tend to create a positive assess of this company’s green enterprises. However, according to the Attribution Theory (Kelley 1972; Jones & Davis 1965), when a consumer evaluates a company’s environmental initiatives, they may elaborate on the message to find motivation on whether the company is matching their initiatives. If a consumer identifies the company’s motivation is driven by self-interest or profit instead of by public service, consumers’ attitudes towards this company and their willingness to pay for their green initiatives may turn negative, even if the company might have positive perspectives for environmental issues (cited in Kang et al., 2012). So, businesses have a reason to switch to a greener path, but if they do it, it has to come from a genuine engagement with the environment, and not because of a “go green” trend.

To sum up, environmentally aware consumers are more likely to adopt sustainable consumption patterns and more willing to pay for ecological products or services. Hence, companies have a market opportunity with this segment of consumers. However, if a company’s motivations don’t match their behaviours, consumers won’t trust these businesses and consequently won’t get involved with them.

I’m pleased to read your comments and opinions,

greenConsuming

22/11/2012

Is not that easy being green

Would you take an 8 hours train to reach your destination while there is an option, to get there in 2 hours… and it is even cheaper? Would you recycle your waste if you have to walk further, passing the normal rubbish bins, to get the recycling containers? Would you use public transport if it is more convenient to use your own car? Would you choose spending your holidays in a local destination were you don’t need to flight instead of going to a paradisiacal beach resort if it cost barely the same price? Would you stop drinking bottled water or canned drinks?

Everybody knows which would be the most popular answers to these questions. So, our friend Kermitt was absolutely right: it’s not that easy being green.

Following a greener path and introducing sustainable consumption patterns in our daily life is not effortless: it needs dedication, time and in many occasions there are other options that are not so green but more convenient for us. But we, humans, are selfish and lazy: we mostly prefer comfort and conveniency, even if it involves a considerably environmental cost.

According to Buenstorf & Cordes (2008), sustainable consumption patterns are difficult to incorporate to people’s behaviour and habits because they are not self-reinforcing. In their learning theory of consumption, they state that acts of consumption are driven by their capacity to fulfil human wants, which are innate and universally shared and have correspondence to basic physiological and psychological needs.

Lets translate that to our first examples. If we choose flying to our destination instead of taking a train is because the second choice, although is much more environmentally friendly, but might not be as self reinforcing as spending 2 hours instead of the whole day for a journey.

Awareness of environmental effects of our high level society is increasing and we know we are damaging the environment and we will pay the bill for it. If then, why don’t we change our unsustainable way of life? Why we keep on making environmental damage towards our own individual benefits and pleasure? It is suggested that because it gives us inmediate reinforces. Yes, we humans are that selfish: we think in our own instant benefit, instead of a long-term community-oriented reward (Arbuthnott, 2010).

So, here we are, acts of consumption are driven basically by hedonistic reasons (Buenstorf & Cordes, 2008) and unless we switch the short-term thinking towards a long-term reward point of view is likely that it will take time until we incorporate sustainable consumption patterns to our daily life.

But don´t forget it: green can be cool!!

I’m pleased to read your comments and opinions,

greenConsuming

02/11/2012

Fashion, at what price? …… Green Fashion

Nowadays, our clothing and fashion trends have little to do with the fashion followed by the man and the woman above. We buy our clothes rom the main big retailers. Why?  It is cheap, convenient, and they have a wide selection of  items and sizes. But are these the only reasons?

According to Fogh Mortensen et al., (2005), a significant influence on consumption behaviour comes from lifestyles and fashions which are driven by culture and trends. We dress, we buy goods and we adopt certain lifestyles in line with the latest fashions. So, people often buy new clothes sooner than actually needed because of the change of the fashion trend.

However, is there a clear environmental disadvantage to the increase of clothing items associated with ‘changing fashion’?

The average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes – and around 30% of clothing in wardrobes has not been worn for at least a year. The cost of this unused clothing is around £30 billion.

Extending the average life of clothes by just three months of active use would lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints.

An estimated £140 million worth (around 350,000 tonnes) of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK per year.

Source: (Gracey & Moon, 2012)

Every year at least two new season collections are released and new season items arrive to the shop´s windows. That means every season a huge amount of new fashion clothing items are produced and substitute the garment from the past season. The clothing items are not used until they are degraded and fashion makes us to dispose the clothes much earlier than they are worn out. All of these facts show how large is the impact of this industry on the environment and resource consumption.

But why do we keep on buying clothes although we have plenty of them and they are not worn out?

Alwood, Laursen, Malvido de Rodríguez, & Bocken, (2006); explain this behaviour affirming that appart from consumer inertia, in a wealthy society, clothing and textiles are bought as much for fashion as for function, and the desire to appear fashionable promotes purchase of products before the end of their natural life.

In addition, they state that consumers do not recognise the connection between their purchase and use of clothing and textiles and their environmental and social consequences. Furthermore, they argue that fast fashion clothes are cheaper than longer lasting clothes made with environmental and social responsibility.

So, what would you prefer: Paying a cheap price for a pair of trousers that won’t last long but they are trendy and can be replaced next season with the ones from next season’s collection or paying a higher price and having a durable item that won’t be replaced for some years?

Below is some advice about consumption patterns towards sustainable fashion. So, according to Alwood et al., (2006), what would an ‘ideal’ or sustainable consumer do?

  – Buy fewer but high quality and longer lasting garments.

  – Buy second-hand clothing and textiles where possible.

  – When buying new products, choose those made with least energy and least toxic emissions.

  – Only buy products made by workers paid a decent salary and with reasonable employment rights and conditions.

  – Lease clothes that would otherwise not be worn to the end of their natural life.

  – Wash clothes less often, at lower temperatures and using eco-detergents, hang-dry them and avoid ironing where possible.

  – Repair your clothes to extend their life.

 – Dispose of used clothing and textiles through recycling businesses who would return them for second-hand sale wherever possible, but otherwise extract and recycle the yarn or fibers.

Like everything related to environmetal issues, the benefits of the ‘ideal consumer’ behaviour would depend on the majority of consumers’ behaviour, not on few individual. However it is much more difficult to create a mass change of direction than to motivate a few pioneers.

Would you be up to change your behaviour and follow the above proposed guidelines towards sustainable fashion consumption?

I’m pleased to read your comments and opinions.

greenConsuming

26/10/2012

Feed yourself, starve the Planet II: Meat consumption

Hello everyone!

This week’s post will be a continuation of the food and sustainability topic. I will talk about the consumption of meat and animal derived products. As we said last week, food industry  is one of the biggest contributors to environmental problems, but food from animal origin, particularly meat, causes most of them. The meat-based diet is the most important topic to review towards a more sustainable diet. (Schösler, de Boer, & Boersema, 2012)

There is plenty of data revealing the unsustainability of livestock production:

The FAO predicts that in 2050 the global consumption of meat and milk will double: In year 2001, 60 billion animals a year were used to produce meat, milk and eggs. This number is expected to be 120 billion by 2050.
According to the FAO, industrial animal production is increasing six times faster than traditional farming systems and at least 50% of the world’s pig meat and over 70% of the world’s poultry meat and eggs are produced in industrial systems.  These systems have a high demand of natural resources, farming land and water in order to grow feed-crops for farmed animals.

One third of the world’s total farming land is dedicated to animal feed-crop production and over 90% of the world’s soya beans and 60% of corn and barley are grown for livestock feed. Raising levels of land used for crops causes deforestation, which is a major cause of CO2 emissions and environmental deterioration. (Steinfeld H. et al., 2006)

Then, what implications have these data with consumers? Do we as consumer have something to do with this facts and can we alter this trend?

It seems that many consumers respond sceptically to environmental issues nowadays (Macnaghten, 2003), so it would be essential to understand how the notion of food sustainability can be worked out in terms of important values and choices on people’s daylife (de Boer, Hoogland, & Boersema, 2007).

Willingness to reduce meat consumption might also be important in this issue. In a study carried out in Finland by Latvala et al., 2012; they compared consumer’s past behaviour with future willingness. They shown that although 48% of the consumers have no intention to change their food consumption patterns; 13% of the consumers have already changed their consumption patterns towards more vegetables and less meat and a significant 39% of the consumers are tending to reduce meat quantity and to increase the consumption of vegetal products, mainly because of health reasons. Isn’t it a good step?

de Boer, Hoogland, & Boersema (2007) tried to explain he relationship between broad universalistic values and meat choices, and for this they developed a set of food choice motives and attitudes that can mediate on it. In their paper, they state that values shape behaviour in a “value-congruent” direction if they are activated during the predecisional process; and this takes part specially with food choices, where habits and preferences have a big influence in our choices. In this study they also found that consumers who were highly involved in food tend to prefer organic-meat choices and tend to be more open minded to changes their habits.

Another interesting finding in this study is that low involved in food consumers were less likely to buy free-range meat. However taste-oriented consumers were more focused on stimulation and this could also make them more interested in new concepts, such as ‘‘free-range” or ‘‘slow food” that add special qualities to the taste of the food.

By these data I would suggest that changing consumers’ habits and values might be the first step towards sustainability. Also focusing on meat substitution products as “new tastes” we could them attract more taste-oriented consumers, more than food involved-consumers.

Finally, here are some recommendations to turn your eating habits more sustainable:

I’m pleased to read your comments and opinions.

greenConsuming

19/10/2012

Feed yourself, starve the Planet.

Hello everyone!

On this week’s blog I will write about something that we all humans need and consume and could be the starting point of establishing sustainable consumption patterns: FOOD.

From the 1970’s to date, we have slightly changed the amount of food we eat. In the EU, the average of food ingested per year on the 70’s was 735kg per person, while on the 2000’s was 770kg, which is a 5% increase. However this increase is not as much as the change of the composition of our diets or how is produced and sold.

This increasing demand has been basically produced by a growing economy and a change of our lifestyles.  In comparison with the 70’s, Europe has became wealthier, though food prices have not risen at the same time (Fogh Mortensen et al., 2005). We become wealthier and then we demand a healthier diet including more meat, seafood, or luxurious and imported products. At the same time our lifestyle has also changed and now we don’t spend much time cooking: we buy much more precooked food on supermarkets and takeaways.

 

Consumption of major food and drink categories (kg/l per person per year)

But have we though about the implications that our diet has on the environment?

Every single step on the food production-consumption chain has an implication with the environment: cultivation of crops, farms and fisheries as well as the transport, storage, manufacturing and distribution of these resources. Also the direct consumer with purchase, consumption, and waste has an implication on this issue (UNEP, 2005).

To ilustrate the environmental effects of food and drink production-consumption we could take a look of this figure to get a better idea:

Many of greenhouse effect gases are produced by agriculture: CO2 derived from the fossil fuel used, animal produced methane and nitrous oxide from fertilizer. Also to grow crops there is an increasing need of space which is normally created by substituting the forest for land, causing deforestation. However most of the energy used in relation to food comes from processing and distribution. In the UK, for instance, 25% of the total amount of energy used comes from the process and distribution of food, and it is estimated to account for almost 50% of the indirect greenhouse gas emissions implied in the goods and services consumed by households (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2007).

To summarise, we have seen that the production-consumption chain of food, causes most of the pernicious effects to the environment of the total human consumption. Therefor, we should change the way we consume and produce food to ensure sustainable food consumption patterns. But what can we –consumers- do to reduce this environmental impact? Which specific consumption patterns should we start carrying out?

In the coming posts I wil start reviewing the specific consumption patterns related to food and drink and non-sustainable examples of food or drinks, to try to bend this trend towards sustainability.

I’m pleased to read your comments and opinions.

greenConsuming

12/10/2012

Welcome to greenConsuming

Hello everyone and welcome to greenConsuming!

In this first post I will like to introduce you to the purpose of this blog: spreading green consumption and consumption patterns towards sustainability.

I would like to draw some guidelines on how we could contribute to “consume in an environmentally-friendly way”. I will write weekly posts covering diverse topics related to consumption, and focusing on the field of household consumption (food, clothes, housing, hobbies, travelling, etc.). In these topics I will be giving my “green” and critic point of view as well as I will give some tips or “recommended consumption patterns” to bend the current unsustainable consumer trend towards “sustainable consumption”. The information will be supported by scientific research.

Sustainability… what a beautiful world. We all have heard about it and even used it, but do we know what it exactly means?

If we look for a definition of sustainability, we will find hundreds of them. Thus, we would need to provide some clarifications:

The term sustainable refers to a level and pattern of consumption which ”meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987).

Additionally, the concept of sustainable consumption refers to “the use of goods and services that respond to the basic needs, bringing better quality of life, while minimising the use of natural resources, toxics materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life-cycle, so as not to jeopardise the needs of future generations” (Norwegian Ministry of Environment, 1994; OECD, 2002).

So, from the information above, we could assume that consumption is an important, if not the main, aspect of sustainability.

Though, eating, drinking, wearing clothes, or having a place to live are not only options for us. Consumption is imperative to survival. Additionally, other consumption is not essential for survival; like transportation, communication, health, or hobbies, however we need it in our current world.

Many of the essential things in life involve consuming, but… is there a limit?

We are around 7.045 billion people currently living on the Earth and the population is on a constant growth. (U.S. Census Bureau).

As we become wealthier we consume more (Fogh Mortensen et al., 2005), and this positive growth causes individuals to change their consumption patterns. For example we use a lot of energy, we travel more, we buy more things and we throw away them instead of repairing and we eat much more than we need. All of this raising consumption make us using more resources and energy than we need and we do it much faster than their capacity to regenerate.

That results in an increasing pressure on the environment and natural resources. So, the increase in the volume of economic activities is pushing resource use and environmental problems to higher absolute levels. (EEA, 2010). Thaking that we could ask our question and affirm that there is a limit of consumption and we are very close to reach it, if we haven’t done it yet.

If we take all this facts and we refer to the concept of sustainability, we can strongly affirm that this consuming trend seems definitely unsustainable, as we are consuming faster than the capacity of natural resources to regenerate and we are putting at risk the access to natural resources of our coming generations.

But if consumption is essential to survive, the transition to a more sustainable consumption may be a fundamental challenge for our future (Fien, Neil, & Bentley, 2008) and a the main idea is that sustainable consumption requires lifestyle changes into different patterns of consumption. (Fien et al., 2008; Flavin& Engelman, 2009; Gardner, Prugh, & Starke, 2008; Sanne, 2002).

In resume: We depend on consumption of natural resources to survive, but because of our current high level of life, we are destroying the environment and running out of them. However it seems that we don’t realise about it. This means that we as consumers have an important responsibility within the current environmental problems and especially us who are living in developed countries. Thus we are in charge of carrying out lifestyle changes and establishing sustainable consumption patterns if we want to keep our planet alive for the coming generations. The idea of sustainability will help us to face this issue. That sounds great, doesn’t it?

In forthcoming posts I will start covering different topics regarding to household and domestic consumption behaviour and will give suggestions to establish these sustainable consumption patterns.

I’m pleased to read your comments and opinions.

greenConsuming