Babies and children are most vulnerable to our current consumption model. They’re also the key to building a better one.
In my previous post, I explained why our consumption model is broken, and how we can build a new one. If you haven’t read it, here’s a quick summary (or watch the short video below):
Our consumption model is hurting our environment, our physical and mental health. We’re over-using natural resources, exposing children to toxic products, and creating too much waste. This is unsustainable.
A big part of the problem is ingrained in the fabric of our lifestyle. The changes needed go beyond what products we choose. We need to redesign our behaviors: Why and how we consume.
We can evolve to a new, higher form of consumption. When we do that, we create endless opportunities to re-imagine and improve our lives.
We have to come up with new ways to provide everyday products and services. These new ways should solve the challenges we face:
To reduce overconsumption → help us understand what we really need.
To avoid toxic products → ensure the highest sustainability standard.
To limit waste → offer after-use options such as take-back or re-sell.
Imagining a better consumption model is key to a good future.
On August 2, 2017, we started using more from nature than our planet can renew in the whole year. Every natural resource we used from that day onward resulted in “ecological overspending.” Think of it as your bank account. For the first 7 months of the year, you lived on your regular salary. After that, you started using your savings and increasing your credit card debt. Currently, humanity lives at credit and consumes resources equal to that of 1.7 planets a year. That’s compared to 1.4 a decade ago and 0.8 in 1963. If population and consumption trends continue, this figure will rise to 2 planets by 2030. This puts us — and our children — on an unsustainable path.
The Climate Crisis Is Embedded in Our Consumerist Culture
This ecological overspending contributes to the warming of our planet. It accelerated in the past 35 years — 2016 was the hottest year since record-keeping began. Most scientists agree that the leading cause of the warming is human pollution. The burning of fossil fuels and the clearing of forests are the main contributors. Clean energy and protecting our forests are critical parts of the solution. But we must look at the challenge in a more holistic manner. The climate crisis is rooted in our modern lifestyle, and in the economic model that supports it.
A recent study in the Journal of Industrial Ecology looked at the impact of consumption. It calculated that, in 2007, consumers contributed to more than 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. They also contributed between 50 and 80 percent of total land, material, and water use. US households alone contributed to a quarter of global emissions. Only 20 percent were direct emissions from the use of public transport and household fuel. The bigger part was indirect emissions from consumption of products and services. These included housing, transportation, food, manufactured products, and clothing.