Being Ethical Consumers

Being Ethical Consumers

‘Consume with care’ compels the adverts and campaigns commemorating 5thJune 2015 as World Environment Day.

There is an impact our actions have on the environment; think air pollution, water contamination, land degradation, soil erosion and natural resource depletion. We are pushing our planet to its ecological limits; we are consuming resources faster than they can replenish (e.g. we cut trees faster than they can regenerate). In 2009 it was estimated that humanity used 40% more than nature could regenerate.

It is projected that the population will increase from 6.7 billion in 2006 to 9.2 billion by 2050. Each day 200,000 more people are added to the world food demand, many from developing countries. The more our population grows, the more resources we need to support our needs.

Further, through innovation and technology, we have found new ways to generate and use these resources!Our needs and behaviors are ever evolving.

  • The amount and diversity of food we consume
  • The way we transport ourselves around our cities, countries and to other parts of the world
  • The way we manage our health
  • The way we trade to acquire goods and accumulate wealth
  • How we interact socially – Celebrations and festivals

We are radically changing the way we use our land to meet our needs faster, cheaper, and with greater fortitude.

A growing human population’s incessant demands are exhausting our natural resources and we are rapidly heading towards a tipping point causing irreversible changes to the Earth’s ecosystem.

Qs - Is there anything you and I can do?

Ans - Yes! Consume with Care! 

Qs - How can one consume with care? 

Step1 - Beenvironmentally literate.

An environmentally literate individual is one who has knowledge and a broad understanding of the subtle and yet intricately woven web that connects humans and societies to each other and to the natural systems and has the attitude and behavior to incorporate environmental and social considerations into daily decisions both in professional and personal capacities.

Step 2 – Do more with less

Remember your parents/grandparents asking you to switch off lights when not in use? Or not wasting food on the plate? Or to fix that leaking tap? Frugality - for some of us translates to being miserly, but in its true essence it means ‘not wasteful’.It boils down to the 4 R’s mantra - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

Remember ‘When you throw something away, there is no away! It remains here on our planet.’

Step 3 – Demand more transparency

Know the impacts business and industries are having on the environment not just in using the natural resources but also in producing waste like greenhouse gases, effluents clogging our water bodies and the non-degradable waste being heaped into the landfills.

Step 4 – Shop Ethically

You vote with the choice you make. While shopping,know the impacts of our purchase and habits. Choose products and services that not only meet your needs and your taste but also your values. Avoid products you disapprove of like polluting cars, genetically modified crops, cosmetics with microbeads etc.In a free market, businesses respond to consumer demands; which means that all of us with more awareness and through collective efforts can be an agent of change.

Step 4 – Push for improvements

Stand up in support of ethical consumption, raise your concerns against unsustainable practices; promote environmental literacy among your family, friends & colleagues.Push for improvements in the way we consume – as shoppers, as businessmen and as citizens.

 

A 2.5 tonne air conditioner emits 3 kg of CO2

A microwave oven generates 1.3 kg of CO2

A car that gives a mileage of 10 Km/liter of petrol leaves 232 grams of CO2/km

 

Every action has a proportionate carbon footprint associated with it.

 

Know your own carbon footprint!  http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx

 

Day to day actions

Know your waste & segregate: Each bag that is thrown out from homes everyday contains around 50-60% organic waste and around 25-30% of recyclable waste. If these are separated and put to use by composting and recycling, you reduce the amount of waste you send to landfills everyday (http://www.dailydump.org/) 

 

Green your urban space - Houseplants remove volatile organic compounds, or VOCs (emitted from things such as paints, synthetic materials, and cleaning supplies), from the air.

 

Manage speed limits : Driving at 65 mph instead of 55 mph increases fuel consumption by 15%

 

Upcycle old household items: Be creative & innovate. Pump new life into old stuff https://www.pinterest.com/savvyb/upcycle-and-repurpose-ideas/  

 

Send your stuff to NGOs& local businesses that reuse, upcycle and recyclehttp://goonj.org/, http://ecoreco.com/, http://weeerecycle.in/, http://www.recyclekaro.com/ etc. 

 

Seek information: Be aware of the local and global issues and challenge, join local conservation group events, be conscious of your consumption habits

 

About the author

 

Mr. Prashant Mahajan  ‘Director & Learning Catalyst’ and is heading newly established Somaiya Centre for Experiential Learning (SCEL). SCEL will design and implement  variety of experiential learning programmes focused on natural and cultural heritage conservation. The Centre’s activities will be open for the institutions within and beyond Somaiya Vidyavihar. 

 

Mr. Prashant Mahajan – Comes with over 20 years of experience of setting up and facilitating experiential and site-based learning programmes across multiple sectors and geographies with Earthwatch Institute and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). He spent the last two decades of his professional life in the field of environmental sustainability, biodiversity conservation and education with a strong focus on developing stewardship among people for a Sustainable Planet. His expertise lies in designing and facilitating experiences where learning ignites and meaningful action takes root. Mr. Mahajan is an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Fellow with the Department of State, Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs, USA.

 

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