The earth is finite with finite resources and every human being relies on these resources for our basic needs – food, air, water, shelter. But we also put tremendous pressure on the earth in order to fulfill our wants.
There are a couple of additional stressors that come into play here:
- The population is projected to grow to about 9.5 billion people by mid-century (that’s an additional 2-ish billion people between now and then)
- The middle-class population is growing (which is good because that means people are getting out of poverty).
But the additional population plus the rising middle class means that there is that much more pressure on the earth for resources to meet our wants and needs. Our current rate of production and consumption is unsustainable – the current population is using resources up before future generations can have the opportunity to use them.
A lot of this is out of the individual’s hands. We do not have direct control over how our products are packaged. We cannot control the amount of food waste that is produced before it even makes it into our homes.
But there are some things that we can do to practice sustainable consumption such as:
- Switch to energy efficient lightbulbs. This may seem like a small thing but it decreases energy consumption which decreases GHG emissions. And it saves you money on your power bill.
- Buy secondhand and donate what you no longer want or need. This not only keeps things out of landfills, it also reduces the resources needed to make new items.
- Look for sustainable alternatives around your home. Clean out the jars of spaghetti sauce once they’re empty and reuse the jars. Use rags in your kitchen instead of paper towels. Opt for reusable food storage bags and beeswax wrap. Wash out your yogurt containers and use them as seedling pots for your garden. The list could go on and on here!
- Find ways to bring less trash into your home. Bring your own bags when you go shopping (and not just to the grocery store). Bring your own reusable containers with you for leftovers at a restaurant. Before you head out to run errands, make a coffee “to go” in your travel mug. Bring your own jars when buying in bulk at the local market.
- When shopping, practice mindful consumerism – look at labels to see what is in the product you want to buy, opt for products that have less packaging (buying in bulk helps here), reconsider buying something if it is not something you need, think about the resources needed to produce the item and the impact it will have once your throw it away.
If you would like to learn more about sustainable consumption and production, check out these websites:
United Nations – Sustainable Consumption and Production
EPA’s 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production
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