Green consumerism creates a balance between the expectations of consumer behaviour and businesses' profit motives - within the orbit of environmental protection. It is increasingly calls upon to look at the entire life cycle of a consumer's purchases - because a consumer does not just buys 'a' product, but also everything that went into its production, and everything that will happen in the future as a result of that product. We need to realize that all products have an environmental impact, however small. The concept of green consumers also focusses on businesses, and their survivability as they respond quickly to demands of consumers for products and services that are also environmentally friendly.
A Quick Introduction to Green Consumerism
Green consumerism creates a balance between the expectations of consumer behaviour and businesses' profit motives. Points to be noted: • • • • Markets don't wait for slow movers. Businesses that innovate and respond quickly to consumer demands survive best. Everyone has a part to play, at various levels of administration, manufacture and use. A consumer has to realize that he/she not just buys 'a' product, but everything that went into its production, and everything that will happen in the future as a result of that product. All products have an environmental impact, however small. The idea is to reduce it to the minimum. "A 'cradle-to-grave' approach should be used to understand green products"
" ... even green products have an environmental impact"
"The greenest option: don't buy!"
Key impacts of green products: • • • • • Consumers have been asking for green products, ie there has been a clear raise in demand for such products. Businesses have looked into the green process - generating corporate environmental profiles, monitoring and evaluating green performance, and improving corporate image as a result. Green products have also increased competition among businesses to generate more environmentally friendly products. Ecolabelling networks that monitor and evaluate green products have been developed in many countries. These networks have done life cycle analyses to understand the impact of products. Governments have also taken several measures that have supported and facilitated such moves by businesses. "The triple bottom line: economically viable, environmentally sound, and "Consumer is a change agent and is proactive"
"Life Choices: Green consumerism is not just what we buy, but also how we live"
Energy: Every source of energy has an environmental impact. etc. something should stop. mass production v/s craft industries. but also cutting back. aging populations. Energy efficiency is not just technology. children.
• • • • • • • • •
"Green consumerism involves actions from the government sector. Much can be done at the individual level. Fair Trade: Nee to look into working conditions (child labour. profits. knowledge and skills. fertility et al. Water: Water use is increasing at twice the rate of population increase. small scale loses out) etc.but the consumer should be given the choice.socially responsible" Key issues for the future include: • • • Health: A sentary lifestyle combined with health impacts of environmental pollution and emissions. long hours. Ethics of cloning. 40% of all plant growth consumed by humans! Somewhere.Creating a future we want: • • • • • • • make intelligent life choices use people power for positive change act as well as think set clear priorities fight for the right to know understand the bigger picture respect the living world
. demand) and disadvantages (unemployment. consumption patterns . Natural World: Considerable pressures put on the natural world due to population increases and rise in consumption. including misinformation. then we would need three planets"
"20% of the population use 80% of the resources"
The Year 2000 . but also of quality of life. Chemicals: Use of pesticides and other hazardous chemicals. Increase in financial wealth. Genetic engineering: Includes many ethical and moral issues. There are enough cars to create a six-lane traffic jam to the moon. lack of safety. footloose companies. PCB?DDT has been found in mother's milk too! Ozone depleting chemicals. weaker controls. hormonedisrupting chemicals have long term effects on human health and well-being. Measure "gross national happiness"!! Childhood: Loss of 'childhood' due to societal pressures and expectations.living beyond means. Globalization: Transboundary effect and free trade have both advantages (efficiency. Ethics: The treatment of other peoples. unfair trade. Issues of gender. the private sector and the civil society"
"If everyone in the world lived a lifestyle like Japan. anti-biotics etc. opportunities. use and abuse of pesticides. animal welfare. Neighbourhoods: Development of a sense of community. Population and consumption: Population increases. Not that genetic engineering is bad . low wages. etc.
standards. more than double the area in 1998 (p. Worldwide. 124-125). co-author of the 1988 book "Green Consumer Guide". Aided by labeling programs. are seeking out goods and services that promote sustainable development: • The Mexico-based Forest Stewardship Council has certified over 25 million hectares of commercial forest in 54 countries as meeting social and environmental standards for sustainable forestry.
. 46). At the seafood counter. mackerel. often aided by information-brokering organizations. buyers of energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) have eliminated the need for nearly 40 medium-sized. DC-based environmental and social policy research organization. Japan. herring. 'But what consumers are demonstrating is that they want more environmentally acceptable choices than the market has been delivering. and salmon that carry the Marine Stewardship Council's logo as having been harvested under environmentally responsible management (pp. 1998 in Tokyo. Worldwatch Senior Researcher and Project Director for Vital Signs 2002. the world's consumers are 'voting with their wallets' for products and services that promote sustainable development. and an expanding group of social and environmental certification organizations. and more trustworthy information about the social and environmental impact of the products they might buy. hoki. 70). at the International Symposium on Consumption and the Environment on 26 February. 'Some free market advocates claim that the market automatically gives people all the choices they want and all the information they need. In 21 European countries.' says Michael Renner. Thai consumers have used information from an appliance-labeling program to drive the market share of energy efficient.750 beaches and marinas with high environmental standards and sanitary and safe facilities (pp. reports a new study by the Worldwatch Institute.• • •
expect the unexpected happiness cannot be bought practice give-and-take
Source: Presentation notes based on a talk given by Julia Hailes .' 'Vital Signs 2002' produced with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the W. Alton Jones Foundation . a Washington. [Note: emphasis and images created by Hari Srinivas]
The Power of Green Consumers
Review of Vital Signs 2002
Well-informed consumers are emerging as a new force in the global struggle to create an environmentally sustainable world. consumers can now find rock lobster. beachgoers follow the ratings of the European Blue Flag campaign to find some 2. single-door refrigerators from 12 percent in 1996 to 96 percent in 1998 (p. 124-125). coal-fired power plants (p. 132). cockles.documents many instances where consumers.
and by 2004. more than double the area in 1998. Cell phone and computer users should be demanding that manufacturers take their products back.9 million tons of e-waste ended up in US landfills. 'But manufacturing semiconductors is chemical-intensive. herring. Overall.
Some examples of Green Consumerism
The Mexico-based Forest Stewardship Council has certified over 25 million hectares of commercial forest in 54 countries as meeting social and environmental standards for sustainable forestry. coal-fired power plants. The electronics industry in 2001 produced 60 million transistors for every man. the world's cruise ships discharge some 33 million tons of raw sewage and garbage into the oceans each year. buyers of energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) have eliminated the need for nearly 40 medium-sized. 'Consumers will not save the world by themselves. woman. and design them to be recycled instead of dumped. Executive Director of UNEP. tens of millions of cell phones and an estimated 315 million computers may be headed for our dumps. consumers can now find rock lobster. to almost 10 million passengers a year. single-door refrigerators from 12 percent in 1996 to 96 percent in 1998. This program certifies that the beans meet standards for shade farming and organic production (pp." Vital Signs 2002 highlights several sectors where consumer pressure could be pivotal in getting industry and regulatory bodies to step up to the plate. mackerel. Thai consumers have used information from an appliance-labeling program to drive the market share of energy efficient. At the seafood counter. Cruise ship passengers could use their vacation dollars to favor companies that meet strict environmental standards. cockles. California's Santa Clara County. Worldwide.
'Changing consumption and production patterns will be high on the agenda of this year's World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). The industry's environmental record has been dismal. hoki. The number of people taking a cruise vacation more than doubled between 1990 and 2000. and child on Earth.'' Renner says. poisoning groundwater supplies. more than 2. the birthplace of the semiconductor industry.
. 124-125).' The cruise ship industry is another industry ripe for pressure from consumers. 'We tend to think of the 'new economy' as being cleaner than the 'smokestack economy. and salmon that carry the Marine Stewardship Council's logo as having been harvested under environmentally responsible management. And the short life-span of these products is creating mountains of electronics waste. In 1997. now contains more toxic waste sites than any other county in the United States." says Klaus Töpfer.•
Coffee drinkers in the US and Canada can ask for their coffee to be brewed from beans carrying the Bird Friendly seal of approval from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. but they are welcome allies in a struggle where we are going to need all the help we can get. and endangering human health.
is the fourth largest consumer of soda and is growing rapidly. Soda consumption contributes to tooth decay. the two largest soft drink corporations. and caffeine dependence. the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo. with annual sales exceeding $1 billion. A computer monitor contains 1. China. making the semiconductor industry one of the most chemically intensive ever known.
.6 billion worldwide on advertising.000 different chemicals. with less than 5 percent of world population. And at least 315 million computers in the United States are predicted to become obsolete by 2004. about 520 million people used the Internet.8 to 3.6 kilograms of lead. China is the second largest market with $580 million in sales. with about 20 percent of world's population. Discarded cell phones are a growing contributor to electronic waste. nearly pulling even with the number of fixed-line connections. Coffee drinkers in the US and Canada can ask for their coffee to be brewed from beans carrying the Bird Friendly seal of approval from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. The US constitutes about 40 percent of the world market for household pesticides.
In the United States. one computer is used per user per year. amounting roughly to 50-83 kilograms per person in 1999 alone. a significant portion of which targeted children.
The Thirst For Sugar
The United States. A single semiconductor plant may use between 500 and 1. In 2000.
New Economy. the share of harvests lost to pests has increased from 30 percent in the early 1940s to 37 percent in the 1990s . 300?500 million metric tons of hazardous waste were generated worldwide each year during the past decade. In some American businesses. In 21 European countries. nutrient deficiencies. almost double the number in 1999. fueling a growing waste crisis. accounting for one third of total soda consumption in 1999.750 beaches and marinas with high environmental standards and sanitary and safe facilities.despite a 10-fold increase in pesticide use. A recent study showed a direct correlation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity. as consumers seek the latest technology and manufacturers introduce disposable models. Not Clean Economy
In 2001. which encompassed 147 million host computers. is the largest carbonated soft drink consumer. beachgoers follow the ratings of the European Blue Flag campaign to find some 2. spent $4. This program certifies that the beans meet standards for shade farming and organic production. And the number of mobile telephone subscribers rose to almost 1 billion in 2001. a heavy metal that damages the nervous system and poisons blood cell development.
a sevenfold increase since 1980. Each shared car is estimated to eliminate four cars from the road. the second-worst figure in 20 years. up 37 percent from 18.
The European Automobile Manufacturers Association has offered a voluntary commitment to increase auto fuel efficiency standards to 41 miles per gallon (5. Every day. Half of California's new schoolteachers in 2000 had either no credentials or were inadequately prepared for the subjects they taught. A lane of light rail can move four to eight times more people per hour than a lane of highway. North America and Asia.100 megawatts in 2000. equal to one quarter of what British farmers spend on pesticides themselves each year. If 20 percent of American consumers were influenced to purchase one of the most efficient refrigerators available.000 children under the age of 5 die of preventable causes. In Japan. Wind generating capacity reached 24. Half the population of Egypt. Wind energy remains the world's fastest-growing energy source. Saudi Arabia.
More than a quarter of all children in South Asia and 40 percent of all children in Africa did not have access to formal education in 1998. The United Kingdom spends roughly $200 million each year to remove pesticides from drinking water.7 billion people aged 10-24) is now reaching reproductive age. Production of photovoltaic (solar) cells exceeded 390 megawatts in 2001.7 liters per 100 kilometers) by 2008. the combined fuel economy of new passenger cars and light trucks in the US stands at just 24. while over 60 percent of Pakistan and Afghanistan's populations fall into that category.5 liters per 100 kilometers). 30. Iran. Car sharing is emerging rapidly in Europe.
Energy efficiency labeling programs can be found in 43 countries around the globe.
Boom and Bust
The largest generation of young people in human history (1. Many highly qualified teachers from developing countries are being recruited to fill positions in US and European schools.7 liters per 100 kilometers) for new models by 2010.800 megawatts in 2001. the electricity savings would eliminate the need for more than four large power plants.7 miles per gallon (9. Iraq. Currently.
. marking the fourth straight year of growth at or above 30 percent. regulations will likely bring about an improvement to about 35 miles per gallon (6. and Syria is under 25.