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How Can Consumers Make Better Consumption Choices To Help Preserve Our Planet?

SDG - 12 Responsible consumption & production - (How can consumers make better consumption choices to help preserve our planet?)

Consumers = Are the individuals who purchase goods and user services solely for personal use and not for ‘manufacturing or resale’, they are the end-users in the sales distribution chain.

Sustainable consumption is the usage of goods and services which satisfy basic needs i.e groceries and hygiene products being sold.

*Think of your weekly shop, when you go to purchase a product you are now a consumer of that item*

The purpose of sustainable consumption is so that the use of energy, byproducts and natural resources which cannot be replaced are then minimised i.e. toxic materials, waste and pollution.

'Cradle to grave' or 'cradle to cradle'

There is a term “cradle to grave” or “cradle to cradle” - This is the process majority of lifecycle products go through.

Raw materials (cradle)

1. Production

2. Manufacturing

3. Packaging

4. Transportation

5. Usage

6. Recycling

7. Disposale (grave)

Each stage of this lifecycle has a number of inputs such as material, resources and energy and their own outputs such as emissions to the air, water, air and land.

*Each input and output should be evaluated to determine the total cost of the product*.

*For more information on this idea visit William McDonough’s website and read his book “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (2002) or watch his TED Talk*

Total cost

When purchasing an item there is more than just the original ‘£’ price to take into account, i.e. the

environmental + social costs, which are not always reflected in the actual price.

For example, energy drinks are made of cans which may dispose of into the sea and oceans endangering wildlife, however, due to their cheap cost this is not something which is taken into consideration by many.

Environmental and social costs include:

  • Extraction of raw material from the Earth

  • A satisfactory working environment for staff

  • Material wastes

  • Health costs

  • Water, air, and land pollution from manufacturing

  • Staff conditions

  • Packaging waste disposal

  • Energy taken into production

  • Emissions from transporting products

  • Materials created

  • Product disposal at life’s end

  • Packaging & reselling

Purchasing behaviour

There are multiple things which influence what we purchase think of yours.

  • I am treating myself to this.

  • This is an essential household item

  • Has been socially influenced to purchase this item.

Other things which can influence our purchasing habits include

  • Values

  • Current trends

  • Personal experiences

  • Recommendations from others

  • Habits

  • Routines

  • Social acceptance

  • Availability of product

  • Price

All of this help to create change by influencing our decision-making, creating something into a trend or getting an individual to change the way in which they shop can encourage buying behaviour goods, here are a few of them:

6 ways you can make better consumption choices, it starts with you!

ShareTrading products with others is a good way to not waste items and upcycling them to towers i.e. renting DVDs, video games or selling clothes online. PackagingAvoiding products which contain excess packaging which is wasteful, or even purchasing items that can be reused or recycled.UsageBuy products which have already been used, you can find some great reusable products which do not look second-hand or worn out, have a look! Locally sourced by-products which are freshly sourced from your local supermarket i.e. produced as close to your home as possible. Durability Ensure you purchase products which are durable so you do not have to often replace them i.e. wax paper instead of plastic sandwich bags. Buy what you need only purchase things you know you will use, as excess items can lead to a waste of products.

What else can we do:

  • Making smarter choices about our purchases means we better our communities

  • Ask yourself do I really need to purchase this item?

  • Where is the product being sourced from (is there a local equivalent product)

  • How much energy is going into the making of this product?

  • What will happen to this product once I am finished with it?

*You can use this list as a shopping guide on your next trip :)*

Ways to find products which help protect the environment:

  • Durability - Purchasing products which are durable means you do not need to replace them often.

  • Fewer purchases - Buying only what you need means less resource consumption as less wastage

  • Locally - Buying food, products and services which are grown or produced as close to your home as possible i.e your local supermarket (have a look around)

  • Packaging - Avoiding products that have excess packaging i.e bubble wrap or big boxes inside a small food time.

*Don’t forget to share these tips and your products with others once you are down*

Saving the planet - starts with you!


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