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How can you Become a Sustainable Consumer?

If you are interested in helping planet earth and becoming a sustainable and environmentally responsible consumer, these are some of the actions you can take.

Woman carrying bags

As individual consumers we must ask ourselves what we can do to contribute to stopping climate change. Photo: Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: ¿Cómo puedes convertirte en un consumidor sostenible?

Climate change and the environmental crisis that we are experiencing has put us between a rock and a hard place. We are used to a comfortable lifestyle, but until now we are learning that many, if not all, of the comforts that we have at our fingertips result in the destruction, by a system that consumes massively, limited natural resources on planet Earth.

Now we are talking about a climate emergency, possible new pandemics in the next few years, that soon there will no longer be enough resources on our planet to survive. Meanwhile, there are governmental, international and even civil organizations that are trying to generate a change to be able to reverse what can still be reversed and mitigate as far as possible that which has no turning back.

In the midst of this, as individual consumers we must ask ourselves what we can do to contribute to stopping climate change. How can we be part of the group of entities and people who are on the side of nature and want to protect it?

How to consume responsibly?

Thinking about stopping being consumers is a naive idea, if we want to continue to have a minimum contact with society, we are going to have consumption patterns. So we must think in what ways we can start consuming in a sustainable way.

This week, from September 13 to 17, the Sustainable Consumption Week in Latin America and the Caribbean takes place, a series of 7 sessions in which experts and authorities from different international and governmental organizations meet to discuss the possibility towards a sustainable economic recovery in the face of the pandemic caused by COVID-19. This recovery must be done in both a political and individual environment. That means, ordinary people must also do their part so that there is an economic recovery that respects our home successfully.

Also read: Colombia and Switzerland: What Is Being Done To Protect the Environment?

In the second session, which took place on September 13, experts in circular economy and sustainable consumption met, such as Carlos Trujillo, professor at the Universidad de los Andes; Helio Mattar, CEO of the Akatu Institute; Evangelina Gómez, director of the Sustainable Consumption Campaign of Ecuador; Nydia Suppen, UNEP Mexico Consultant, among others. The session was directed towards current consumption patterns and good practices in Latin America and the Caribbean. Here are some of the actions you can take to be part of the group of people who are making part of the change.

  • Learning to unlearn: One of the keys to being a more responsible consumer is learning to be one. As we know, we were raised under a system of irresponsible and massive consumption, so we must unlearn all those patterns that we have lived with for years. The pedagogy of sustainable consumption must be a priority in the political agendas, but there must also be a willingness on the part of the common people. If you are willing to renew the ideas you have about consumption, then you have the first part done.
  • Reflection: The experts on this panel agree that one of the key points is reflection around consumption. For them it is important to do it, consciously or unconsciously, before, during and after making a purchase. This reflection should be focused on the impact that the purchase can have on one as an individual, on society and on the environment.
  • Ask yourself questions: It is simply asking yourself if you really need something before you buy it. Are you going to use it? Will it satisfy all your needs? Are you going to use the product efficiently? These questions will help you become more aware of your consumption patterns.
  • Stay informed: Being aware of environmental news and the changes you can make from your individuality is key when it comes to being a responsible consumer. If you decide, for example, to go vegetarian or vegan, taking care of your health is also important. When it comes to supplementing certain foods, you should not only think that you are no longer eating meat, ask yourself: Where does the protein I am consuming come from? Is it wrapped in plastic? By informing yourself you will be able to learn to recycle correctly and learn what changes truly make a difference.

Last but not least, being aware of what is happening in your community regarding environmental policies can generate more awareness in you and you can focus on being a sustainable consumer that also demnands your leaders in your city or country sustainable consumption.