What is consumption?
Thoughtful consumption means considering the social, economic and environmental impacts of our choices. It is important to strike a balance between what we need and what we want. Once we determine our needs, we can determine just how much we need to fulfill our everyday functions. Essentially, thoughtful consumption asks us to be just that: thoughtful.
The things we buy and the activities we do are all components of consumption. Often times, consumption is equated to the products we buy, a.k.a. all the “stuff” we have in our lives. But consumption is about more than just products. Consumption includes the services we pay for, the events we attend, and the gas and electricity we use.
Americans are notorious for how much we consume in our everyday lives. We buy a lot of stuff and we throw a lot away. This cycle is unsustainable and wastes large amounts of non-renewable resources like fuel and minerals mined from the earth. If everyone on the planet lived like the typical American, it would take the equivalent of at least four Earths to support the population. To quantify your own ecological footprint, take the simple online quiz: Footprint Calculator.
Over-consumption also includes the staggering amount of food being wasted in America. 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.
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 tips for thoughtful consumption:
- Use reputable sources for finding environmentally preferable products (i.e. EPA's Safer Choice)
- Buy products that are durable, long-lasting, and repairable
- Shop for locally-produced products and services
- Learn to recognize "green washing"
- Shop for products with minimal packaging
- Borrow items from friends instead of purchasing new
- Buy used items
- Buy only what you need
- Repurpose other items to serve a new function (check out the Recycled Arts Festival for inspiration!)