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Overconsumption & the Environment

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Presentation on theme: "Overconsumption & the Environment"— Presentation transcript:

1 Overconsumption & the Environment
Presentation based on the United Nations Environment Program’s “Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production: Priority Products and Materials” Report (2010)

2 Reflect & Share What do the following three images mean to you?


4 http://www. greenprophet

5 http://www. greenprophet

6 Discussion Point “Our enormously productive economy… demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption… We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing rate.” - Victor Lebow, 1955

7 Economic Activity occurs in the natural, physical world
requires resources such as energy, materials and land invariably generates material residuals, which enter the environment as waste or polluting emissions The Earth, being a finite planet, has a limited capability to supply resources and to absorb pollution.

8 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA)
Over 1,300 scientists from all parts of the world contributed Identifies factors that threaten ecosystems and contributions of ecosystems to human well-being Found that over the past 50 years humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable time period in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demand for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel. This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth.

9 Effects of Overconsumption on Human Health

10 The United States The United States contains 5% of the world's population but accounts for: 22% of fossil fuel consumption 24% of carbon dioxide emissions 33% of paper and plastic use The average American: consumes about fifty-three times more goods and services than someone from China. will create thirteen times as much ecological damage over the course of his or her lifetime than a child born in Brazil.

11 Sustainable Consumption
“[Sustainable production and consumption is] the use of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring a better qualify of life, while minimizing the use of natural resources, toxic materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations.” - consumption of environmentally responsible product alternatives - nonconsumption for environmental reasons

12 http://images. nationalgeographic

13 Questions to Ask When Making Consumption Decisions
Where does a particular product come from? What are the working conditions like for the person or people who created it? From where were the raw resources harvested or mined? What impact has their extraction had on the natural environment and nearby communities? What are the real costs of this product, factoring in the costs borne by people, the environment, and future generations? Can I borrow this product from a neighbor instead of buying it for myself? Can it be reused? Are there alternatives made in a more socially and ecologically conscious manner and with less packaging? Are the real costs worth the benefits of the purchase?

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