Consumption

"If the levels of consumption that several hundred million of the most affluent people enjoy today were replicated across even half of the roughly 9 billion people projected to be on the planet in 2050, the impact on our water supply, air quality, forests, climate, biological diversity, and human health would be severe" (WWI 2004).

Consumption—or rather over consumption, consuming beyond our basic needs and wants—is inexorably the impetus of many other environmental problems. The constant demand for new goods, whether it is cars, TVs, computers, MP3 players, clothes, accessories, cell phones, PDAs, fast food and overly processed and packaged food, traveling, bigger homes, etc. creates a continuous demand for raw resources and consequently the exploitation of our environment to obtain and transform these resources. Additionally, many of the goods we demand are becoming more and more disposable which is increasing the amount of goods entering the waste stream—landfills are inundated with the remnants of our throwaway lifestyles. Furthermore, the extraction of resources, the manufacturing of the products, the transportation of the products to distributors, and the disposal of the goods at their end-of-life all require energy, which, for most consumer societies, is primarily coming from fossil fuels.

As societies around the world become more affluent, the demand for goods will only increase and will continue to threaten the sustainability of our planet unless a fundamental shift in our systems of production and consumption occurs.

 

 

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