Not too long ago, The Lorax, a book by Dr. Seuss, warned the world about the dangers of unsustainable production and consumption patterns. The colorful children’s book tells the story about a boy who, living in a walled town where people pay for clean air, goes on a quest for answers on how his town’s demise came to be. What little Ted found is not too different from what is happening today: natural resources are being used at a higher pace than they can be restored and mankind is producing more things than it can possibly consume. Sustainable consumption and production patterns are in order to, if not fix, at least diminish the adverse effects mankind’s toxic practices have had on the environment.
The implementation of sustainable consumption and production promotes resource and energy efficiency, as well as the development of resilient, sustainable infrastructure, access to basic services and the creation of quality jobs that do not harm the environment. Sustainable consumption and production are also about battling the consumerism ingrained in current-day society. As put by this UN post, it’s about “doing more and better with less”. Global Goal 12, cited below, encompasses a series of targets that comprise a sustainable consumption and production plan for the world, set to be achieved by 2030.
GLOBAL GOAL 12: ENSURE SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION PATTERNS
- Implement the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries.
- Achieve sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.
- Halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.
- By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with the agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment.
- Substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.
- Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle.
- Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.
- Ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature.
The targets mentioned above can be achieved if the following general guidelines are implemented by the global community:
- Support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production.
- Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.
- Rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific need and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts of their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities.
Certain sustainable consumption and production strategies are already being implemented. For example, France passed a law earlier this year that forbids food waste by supermarkets, which are bonded by law to donate unsold food to charities and food banks. Also, Beijing has built over 1,000 water conservation facilities. To know how you can be energy efficient while cooking, as well as in everyday life, click here and here.