INTRODUCTION on the environment and society hence

INTRODUCTION

The more people
spend, the more they are likely to be in debt. 
Therefore, you need to work extra hard or borrow money to pay the debt.
So, they end up becoming “wage slaves”.

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Today’s world
is a global village, that is to say people have become integrated economically,
socially and culturally.  Therefore, it
has become easy for people in different parts of the world to consume different
goods and services of their choice. World Commission on Environment and
Development (Brundtland Commission) defines sustainable development as
“Development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising
the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. According to
Morelli (2011), sustainable consumption is the use of products and services
that have a minimal impact on the environment so as to enable future
generations to meet their needs. It involves efficient production and usage of
goods and service, to safeguard the needs of the future generation.

Globalization
and increase in population along with its associated factors such as the
increase in economic power of people has led to the increase in consumption,
consequently people have gained a considerable amount of purchasing and
financial power to consume any combination of goods they want.  It is important to note that every choice we
make as consumers have an impact on the environment and society hence consumers
need to explore newer and safer methods of consumption to safeguard the needs
of the future generation. In recent times, the discourse and debates on
sustainability has become an area of global acclaim, a lot of concerns and
debates are being made on sustainability. This lead to the unanimous decision
by the United Nations to develop goals called the Sustainable development goals
(SDGs). Where all 193 nations have since pledge to develop a holistic approach as
a proactive measure by
implementing policies to end irresponsible and unsustainable means of
consumption, with the sole aim
of preserving and sustaining posterity so that the future generations do
not suffer. Governments, businesses and individual citizens must do more to
make the world more sustainable.

Production and
consumption are a synchronized activity. Producers produce what we consume, therefore
we need to ensure that they are doing the right thing. Most producers do not
use sustainable means of production. According to Moraga-Gonzalez (2004), producers
produce high quality goods for developed countries and dump inferior products
in some developing countries in Africa and Asia. This is an unsustainable
production behavior which needs to be stopped.

Though a lot of
efforts are being made, unfortunately most consumption practices of people are
not sustainable when measure with the SDG ideologies. A lot can be done to
promote sustainable consumption of food, clothes energy and transportation,
however this must include the effort of governments, businesses and individuals

FOOD

According
to Floros (2010) food and water are very basic and essential to life. Food
forms an important part of our cultural identity and it plays an important role
in the economy. Also, the food we eat affects our health. Every day, vast
quantities of food are produced, distributed, and consumed, and these
activities have direct impacts on human health and on the environment. Without
food, human being cannot survive.

Ingram (2017)
mentions that food being a basic commodity for human survival, a lot of people
do not have access to food and water especially in some remote parts of Asia
and Africa. According to Food and Agriculture of the United Nation, it is
estimated that about 815 million people are hungry worldwide Yet, lots of
people have bad attitude towards food. People buy what they don’t need and
throw food away. It is estimated that about 88 million tonnes of food is wasted
in Europe annually (Filimonau, & Gherbin, 2017).  Also, buying food which you do not need, in
effect it drives up food prices. For instance, buying two bags of potatoes when
you only need one not only costs you more but creates an artificially high
demand for potatoes. Thus, driving prices even higher. Food wastage is caused
by poor planning and impulse buying. One of the reasons we waste food is
because we fail to plan before we shop. I personally experienced this when I
visited a shopping mall in Milan during the Christmas season.  A lot of food items were discounted, I
realized people were buying a lot of them. The question is, do these people
really need all these food items? Will they be able to consume all since most
were perishable items?

In developing
countries in Africa and Asia, food is usually lost while it is still in the
field due to poor storage and transportation systems. This is because food producers
there do not have effective technology and proper means of storing food.

As population
increases it is important to be sustainable as possible so that we do not
jeopardize the needs of the future generation. It is important to develop a
positive attitude towards how we handle food.

ENERGY

Without energy,
millions of people would be left cold and hungry.  The major source
of energy comes from fossil fuels, and the dominant fossil fuels used today are;
oil, coal, and natural gas. Fossil fuels are being rapidly depleted due to the
accelerating energy requirements made by rapid global population growth and
development (Smil, V. 2000). Natural gas and oil are non-renewable energy so
continuous consumption could lead to shortage which could eventually put the
future generation at risk. Countries known to have lots of oil and gas, especially
the Gulf states have recently complained about the shortage of fuel, because of
over reliance on natural gas.

Consumers poor
attitude towards efficient use of energy is detrimental towards achieving
sustainable energy. For example, most consumers have bad attitudes towards
saving energy. Most people do not turn off their heating systems, lights,
television when leaving their homes, because they think they pay their own
bills and can do whatever they want. But if such habits persist, posterity will
be endangered.

CLOTHES

Clothes serves
as a symbol of culture. Clothes are very important, people sometimes refer to
clothes as “Social Skin”.

 Recently, the fashion cycles have become
increasingly fast paced and the demand for clothes have increased due to
increase in population and purchasing power. People spend thousands of dollars
on brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton.  The
increase in demand for fashion, means an increase in demand for production
inputs like cotton, polyester. Some producers in the fashion industry are using
unsustainable production methods to keep up with demand and increase profit.  For instance, most
of the cotton produced are exported to China, Thailand and Bangladesh and other
countries with low labor costs where the producers exploit the workers by
paying them little. According to figures from the U.S. National Labor
Committee, these workers in China and Thailand earn as little as 12 to18 cents
per hour working in poor conditions (Simpson, M. P.2017). People buy
clothes they do not need, and end up wasting them and putting pressure on those
who make garments. Why should this happen?

Killing and using
animal skin to produce leather clothes, belts and bags is unsustainable because
these animals could face extinction therefore the need to preserve then for the
future generation. It is important for businesses and consumers must adopt
sustainable production behavior.

TRANSPORTATION

Efficient transport
is very critical in economic development. Transportation is very important
because it involves the movement of human beings and goods.  Therefore, we cannot remove the importance of
transportation.  Consumers demand of petroleum-based cars continue to increase, but
oil-based energy products are non-renewable, which means that continuous consumption
will lead to the future generation having no or little oil. According to
the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2012, Americans consumed
18.6 million barrels of oil per day, which makes the United States the world’s
highest petroleum consumer (Ratne & Glover, 2014).

In
recent times, car ownership is seen, as an indicator of economic success. For
instance, in Ghana, most people have the perception owning a car means being
economically successful. Most people will choose to travel by car if they are
presented with the option between a bus, train, or bike, which are relatively
cheaper. It is true travelling by car is
convenient. But sometimes, such convenience comes with a huge cost, like
congestion and high demand for parking space. Traffic reduces productivity
because working hours will be spent in traffic.

In Ghana, the
government spends more money building and maintaining roads. Instead, these
funds can be spent on building hospitals, schools, access to clean water, etc. The
environmental impact caused by transport is significant because most cars are
powered by petroleum. The emissions from automobiles creates air pollution and
global warming which is damaging to public health.

POLICIES ON HOW
TO PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION

Consumption is
a very delicate area to target through conventional policy measures. It is
usually perceived of as a private domain. Consumers can make choices freely in
the market, so therefore, regulating consumers choice and preferences are
extremely difficult. It is important for nations to incorporate sustainable
consumption and production into national policymaking and governance.

Below are some
of my proposed policies on how to encourage sustainable consumption.

 

      
I.           
EDUCATION
AND COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN

Education is
one of the most powerful tools to help promote sustainable consumption. Most consumers
are ignorant of the importance of sustainable consumption and the impact their
bad consumption attitudes have on environment. Information and awareness-raising
among consumers is very important in promoting sustainable consumption
behaviors.

Proposal 1;
Developing and implementing a curriculum on sustainable development to be
thought in schools. The curriculum should be thought from pre-school to
increase awareness of the young students since they are the future generation. For
example, the University of Milan has a program Sustainable development, where
students are thought about sustainability issues and how to make the world a
better place, for the current and future generations. If this is done, it will
go a long way to help solve the problem at the root.

Proposal 2;
Most consumers lack knowledge about environmentally sustainable consumption
attitudes. The lack of knowledge alone is a huge barrier. Therefore, more television
and radio adverts on sustainability should be encouraged rather than just
enticing people to buy more which may go waste. Adverts should focus on
promoting sustainable consumption ethics. These adverts should be aired
frequently and should be very informative. I believe if consumers are informed
about food being wasted annually, and the number of people who go hungry, they
will change their ways. Also, forums and conferences should also be organized
to inform people about the current issues of sustainability.  This will help consumers be more conscious
about their consumption habits.

   
II.           
GOVERNMENTS
MUST ENFORCE MANDATORY LABELLING AND BAN UNSUSTAINABLE PRODUCTS.

Governments
must make labelling of products a binding legal obligation of all companies
that is, producers must inform consumers about the content of the products. For
instance, all electrical appliances must be labelled to show their energy
consumption percentage. Electrical appliances with high consumption percentages
must be banned from the market.

Labelling food
is also very important because it shows the nutritional contents and consumers
need this information when buying to make informed decision. Sometimes, people
buy products they know nothing about but after consuming and realizing it is
not what they expected, they end up throwing it away.  Therefore, governments must make it legally
binding for companies show the contents of their products. This will help consumers
be cautions when buying.  

 

 III.           
INVESTING
INTO RENEWABLE ENERGY

Sustainable
Energy is one which can meet the growing demand of today’s people without
compromising the demand of future. Due to the high demand of energy, nations
and businesses need to invest in renewable energy. Renewable energy have low
environmental impact and are naturally available. All renewable energy sources
like solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, biogas, wave and tidal power are
forms of sustainable energy and they have low environmental impact. By using
more renewables to meet its energy needs, it reduces the on fossil fuels and
makes its energy production more sustainable

  IV.           
USING
TAXATION TO LIMIT CONSUMPTION

Increasing
taxes on less sustainable products can be effective in controlling consumer
behavior. Taxes and charges can be more effective than regulations, because
regulations require more monitoring efforts. 
For instance, I propose increasing purchase, fuel and registration taxes
on cars will deter consumers from buying cars and rather use public transport. This
can help limit car emissions and over-reliance on petroleum products.
Governments should adopt this approach and encourage eco- friendly cars. In
Milan for instance, most of the public buses are eco-friendly. Other nations
should learn and enforce this method of transportation. A recently introduced
model of car called Tesla, which are electric powered cars should be encouraged
because they do not emit carbon dioxide into the environment. This is good
since its environmentally friendly.

Consumers are
price sensitive, thus a change in prices will affect the behavior of
consumers.  Increasing household energy
consumption tax (electricity, water use, and household waste disposal) will
help deter people from throwing food away and to manage water and electricity
more effectively.

    
V.           
TOUGHER
AND STRICT LAWS ON FASHION

To address the
environmental impacts of fast fashion at its source, governments must ensure dress
makers develop eco-friendly fashion methods. For instance, I propose the use of
polymers created from plant-based materials, hemp, bamboo, and other fiber
crops that require less inputs. A research conducted by Smal (2008), showed Patagonia,
a clothing manufacturing company using highly sustainable and environmental
friendly production method. The company estimates they earn about 86 million dollars
by using soda bottles in manufacturing clothes (Smal, D.2008). So,
if one clothing company is doing this and still making profit, what stops other
companies from using this method? 

Also, animal
skin used to make clothes, bags and belt should be banned.

It is important
for government and civil groups to force dress makers to adopt sustainable
methods in manufacturing clothes. Such regulation and standards, addition to
raising consumers awareness will help consumers have a positive clothing
consumption attitude.

  VI.           
GIVE
BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUALS SUBSIDIES AND INCENTIVES

To promote
sustainable behavior, I propose governments give subsidies to household and
companies who engage in sustainable activities. By giving them tax rebate,
cheaper transportation tickets, developing an award scheme to reward people who
are doing well to preserve the environment. This will help promote sustainable
behaviors across many households.

VII.           
DEVELOP
ORGANIC FERTILIZERS FROM HOUSEHOLD FOOD WASTE.

Household foods
being thrown away can be used to make compost. Farmers can use the compost
fertilizers to increase the fertility of the soil, thus to grow more food. 

VIII.           
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
NEED TO HAVE TOUGHER LAWS TO PREVENT DUMPING.

Most African
and Asian countries must impose strict laws to deal with dumping. They must ban
all inferior products from the market and report such companies to their
corresponding home authorities at the government level. The home government
must also help by dealing with such companies with stringent actions, such as
the imposition of heavy fines on companies found liable. For instance, Ghana
has banned the importation of all second hand electrical appliance and
over-aged car. And any company who brings such product loses their business
license. I recommend this practice to most countries who are facing such
issues, to help keep consumers and the environment safe.

  IX.           
CONCLUSION

In summary, as
population continue to increase, there will always be demand for more food,
energy, clothes and transport. As individuals, we need to think about the
environment and the future. The current spate of consumption puts the future
generation at risk. The question we need to ask is, if all the resources were
used up by our ancestors, will we come to meet what we have today? It is
important pay more attention to our live styles by developing a sustainable
consumption perspective. Also, we need to obey and respect the rules. If we can
all make a conscious effort, we can achieve this great feat, and the world will
be a better place for the current generation, and the future.

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