The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries. Today I’ll be discussing the twelfth goal: “Responsible Consumption and Production” and how we can all celebrate Earth Day and reflect on our consumer habits.
Responsible consumption and production
The twelfth “Sustainable Development Goal”, also known as "SDG 12", aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns globally. This goal recognises the importance of creating a more sustainable and responsible approach to the use and management of natural resources, including reducing waste generation, improving resource efficiency, and promoting sustainable consumption. As consumers we can help reach this goal by adopting more sustainable behaviours, such as purchasing products with minimal environmental impact, reducing our overall consumption, and recycling and disposing of waste responsibly.
Earth day is celebrated every April to raise awareness about environmental issues and encourage people to take actions to protect the planet. One way we could all celebrate Earth Day is by buying nothing, which means refraining from making any unnecessary purchases and consuming resources that would contribute to environmental degradation. When we buy nothing, we reduce the demand for products and services that are harmful to the environment. We can conserve natural resources and reduce waste by reusing and repurposing items we already have instead of constantly buying new things. Many of the products we buy require energy and resources to produce, package, and transport.
By buying nothing, we can reduce our carbon footprint and the amount of greenhouse gases we emit into the atmosphere. It can also help us to save money and live a more fulfilling sustainable lifestyle. Not only should we buy nothing on Earth Day but also practise this in our daily routines. This habit could even allow us to focus more on the things that really matter, such as spending time with loved ones, enjoying nature, and pursuing our passions!
One of the most important things someone trying to live sustainably can do is embrace the principle, that the zero-waste community often adds to the beginning of the adage “reduce, reuse, recycle”: refuse. "Refusing" simply means doing things like shopping less, only buying or taking what you need, responsibly donating or selling what you don’t need, shopping second hand, and participating in a no buy month or shop stop.
Buy nothing project
The "Buy Nothing" project is a global grassroots movement that encourages people to give and receive goods and services without money changing hands. This is a great way to refine our consumer habits and help us reach the sustainable development goals. The project was started in 2013 by Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller, two friends from Bainbridge Island, Washington, who wanted to create a community-based alternative to the consumerist culture of Black Friday. Through the Buy Nothing app you can find and connect with your community by uploading your unwanted items or consuming locally and second hand.
Alternatively, Facebook has their own platform “Facebook Marketplace” where you can buy and sell goods and services locally therefore earning some cash too. It has become a popular alternative to traditional classified ads and online marketplaces, as it too allows users to connect with people in their local communities. The platform also allows users to view the public profiles of buyers and sellers, which can help to build trust and transparency in sales. So, the next time you are searching for something new to add to your home I thoroughly urge you to download either platform and search for the perfect alternative. Not only will this allow you to practise sustainable consumer habits but also encourage you to engage with your local community and spread important awareness
The contradiction of earth day sales
Many earth day sales focus on eco-friendly or sustainable products, which may seem like a positive step towards reducing environmental impact. However, buying new products, even if they are sustainable, still requires the use of resources and energy for production, transportation, and packaging. Additionally, greenwashing is also something to take into consideration as many Earth Day sales are promoted by companies that may not have a consistent commitment to sustainability practices, so the impact of their eco-friendly products may be limited. The sales may encourage you to buy things they don't actually need, so I urge you to refuse the urge and commit to new sustainable habits! When you buy more than you need, the products often end up in landfills or the ocean, where they can harm wildlife and ecosystems. This is especially true for single-use products or items with excessive packaging.
Earth Day can serve as a great reminder of our shared responsibility to protect the planet and its resources for future generations. We can all use this opportunity , whether as individuals, organisations, or governments, to come together and take action in reaching the “Responsible Consumption and Production Goal” and work towards creating a sustainable future for all generations to come.