We Change the World by Changing Our Consumption Habits
07 de December de 2021
07 de December de 2021
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. A day that, since 1970, has been happening earlier with each passing year. In 2021, Earth Overshoot Day took place on the 29th of July, which means that this year we will consume 1,7 planets. If we stay in this course, it’s estimated that by 2030 we will consume three planets per year.
The power to reverse this trend, or to change this situation, is in our hands. If we raise awareness, it’s possible to review our consumption habits, our production techniques and our responsibility and commitment with the planet. That’s what May López, Director at Companies for Sustainable Mobility, told us during her talk atEAE’s 2021 Annual Alumni Reunion.
What are we doing wrong?
In the production and consumption cycles, there are two critical points —Transportation is responsible for 17% of the total of Europe’s CO2 emissions. Spain, private cars are responsible for 15% of those emissions. The second critical point is the textile waste.“900 tonnes of textile waste are produced annually only in Spain”, May told us. Basically, it takes 270 litres of water in order to produce only one shirt.
The fact is that we’re becoming more and more aware of the help that our planet needs. We recycle, we use public transportation, we switch to electric cars… and still, there are elements that escape our awareness, such as the fact that we produce indirect mobility simply through our consumption habits. “Our choice to purchase something makes someone move for us and, on many occasions, with vehicles that generate more pollution. Consumption habits such as buying something and getting it delivered right away or buying three sizes and then returning the ones you don’t want, all suppose mobility, CO2 emissions, changing the quality of the air””.
We are immersed in immediacy, driven by a consumption culture that invites us to consume and change quickly. A clear example of this is ‘Fast Fashion’, where textile companies launch new collections almost every week, inviting consumers to make reckless consumption decisions and basically turning clothes into disposable elements.While it’s important for companies to commit to a sustainable production, it’s also very important for clients to change their consumption habits.
Where are we heading?
Since the Industrial Revolution, the production model has been linear: we obtain resources from the planet, we produce and we throw out. Now we know that this model has become obsolete — it’s unsustainable. We start moving towards a circular economy, which sets out a stage in which all the waste we produce gets back into the cycle. Its goal is to generate the least possible impact. However, this is just the start. May López knows it very well and she told us about a concept she already presented at the National Environment Congress: “We need a spherical economy, in which every organisation also seeks to produce positive impact wherever they carry out their operations”. It’s no longer about producing the least possible impact,but rather to produce a positive impact, create quality jobs, produce economic development and take care of the environment.
Companies and consumers: What should we do?
May invites us to think, to be aware of the changes that start inside every individual. Regardless of our sector, companies and consumers are both made up of people, and in their decisions and responsibilities lies the key to change the culture and the future.
Companiesmust seebeyond economic development.Contributing with the local development of the place in which they carry out their operations, seeking to achieve a balanced environmental performance in order not to consume more than the planet can give and collaborating with other organisations in order to reach the sustainable development goals: these are the 3 keys.
Consumers have much more power than we imagine. We can change things. On the one hand,our consumption choices have the power to change production decisions. On the other hand, we must pay attention to those organisations that make real contributions and choose them over the rest. “Saying that they’re doing things right is not real contribution — real contribution is seeing no proof that things are not being done wrong”, May points out. If we’re capable of recognising those companies that are really doing it right, those that aren’t will start doing it too.
Speaker: May López, Director at EMPRESAS POR LA MOVILIDAD SOSTENIBLE (Companies for Sustainable Mobility) and a Professor at EAE.