What is consumption?

When we talk about consumption, we don't just mean the food we eat. Consumption includes all of the resources we use through the products we buy, the events we attend, and the fuel, water and electricity we use. The more resources we consume, the more damage we are inflicting on the environment.

Thoughtful consumption means considering the social, economic and environmental impacts of our choices. We can consume less by finding the balance between what we need and what we want. Once we define our needs, we can determine just how much we need to fulfil our everyday functions and reduce our consumption.

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Related articles: Food: Too Good to Waste | Holiday Waste Reduction | Thrift Store / Donation Map

thoughtful gas consumption article


Americans are notorious for consumption; we buy and throw away a lot of stuff.  If everyone on the planet lived like the typical American, it would take the equivalent of at least four Earths to support the population - and populations are rising. To see your own ecological footprint, take the simple online quiz: Footprint Calculator.

Food waste is a large factor of over-consumption. From the farm to the table in the U.S., up to 40% of food is wasted. For more information about wasted food, see our Food: Too Good to Waste webpage.

Thoughtful consumption

Whenever you are making a purchase, think about doing your part for the environment. The decisions we make every day have an impact. Here are a few simple steps toward thoughtful consumption:

Buy only what you need.
Buy used items or borrow items from friends instead of purchasing new.
Shop for locally-produced products and services.
Buy products that are durable, long-lasting, and repairable.
Learn to recognize and avoid "greenwashing."
Shop for products with minimal packaging.
Repurpose other items to serve a new function (check out the Recycled Arts Festival for inspiration).
Reduce carbon emissions by carpooling, adjusting the thermostat, upgrading to LED lights, etc.