Unsustainable consumption – the mother of all environmental issues?


Consumption of products and services impacts the environment in many different ways. For example, the things we buy contribute, directly or indirectly through the product lifecycle, to climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss and resource depletion in Europe and other regions of the world.

ConsumptionAnother kind of consumption is possible, however. This is the subject of Sustainable consumption in a time of crisis,  a meeting hosted on 15 March by the European Environment Agency (EEA); and organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the Danish Consumer Council. The event marks International Consumer Day.

“Continuing with current consumption patterns in Europe is not an option,” EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said. “As both population and purchasing power swell worldwide,  resources will be ever more overused and constrained. Europe must take the lead in exploring a new model of consumption which does not compromise the needs of others or of future generations, nor damage the environment.”

The meeting will look at ways the economy can be adjusted to drive sustainable forms of consumption. It will consider how the recession in Europe creates opportunities and constraints for policy makers hoping to boost the ‘green economy’. The meeting is particularly timely, as green economy is one of the priority discussion points of the landmark sustainable development summit in Rio de Janeiro in June this year.


Some facts about consumption