Sustainable Consumption

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What is the definition of responsible consumption? How can we be responsible consumers and make more consumption choices that are good for the planet and for society? 

Responsible consumption is a way of consumption that takes into account the foundations of sustainable development. That is to say, this is a way of consuming that is beneficial considering 3 different cornerstones, by no specific order. 

First, it benefits the economy, especially the local economy, as it allows goods and services to be traded, benefiting the agents involved in these trades. Secondly, it has a positive impact on society, as the products or services purchased are linked to a workforce that has fair wages and working conditions and they’re also positively good for the buyers (in matters such as health). Finally, a responsible consumer also acknowledges the impacts associated with products’ different stages (from its production, transportation, and disposal) and tries to buy the ones with a lower impact.

Sustainable Development defines sustainable consumption in three dimensions:

Buying better – buying greener products;

Consuming better – wasting less and having a more sustainable consumption;

Throwing away better – take into account recycling in particular.

By its turn, responsible consumption has a larger meaning. It implies the concept of consumer responsibility which can affect many areas from the ecological impact of consumption to its social, economic and health impact. To better distinguish both:

 Sustainable consumption means to consume in a way that allows us to preserve our resources and the environment as much as possible.

Responsible consumption means instead to have a consumption which is more environmentally friendly but also considers the social and economic impacts of consumption.

Consumption and responsible food

In terms of food, a “responsible consumer” will probably be a consumer who tries to avoid as much as possible food waste. This consumer is likely to favor a more ecological consumption of its food (by choosing less polluting foods), which favors products that are good for the planet, but also the short circuits.

Responsible consumption: how to shop?

Practicing responsible consumption also means knowing better the products being bought and their environmental, social or economic impact. The problem is that sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between a product from a responsible brand or not! But there are more and more tools to be better guided in this daily responsible consumption journey. 

We should also keep in mind that many of our daily purchases have an impact on the environment or the economy and act accordingly. 

Here is the link to a short film about  how the US got to be such a consumer based economy:

“The Story of Stuff”  https://youtu.be/9GorqroigqM

Learn more about EvCC Sustainability!  www.everettcc.edu/green

Mariya Zelenskyy – Media and Outreach Coordinator  sustainability@everettcc.edu

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