With a conscious buying decision for sustainably, locally and fairly produced products you take on responsibility for other humans and for the environment. The more people show that those values count for their purchase decision, the more the corporations and governments will act accordingly.
Everything we consume pollutes and strains the environment in some way. This is a sad but inevitable fact, but there are things we can do as consumers and companies to limit the effects we have on our environment. The easiest thing is to just consume less, re-use products as often as possible and recycle as much as possible.
A great shortfilm about the consequences of consumerism:
Manual manufacturing or industrial production? Happy animals or factory farming? Regional economy or cheap production overseas? Fair trading or profit at the expense of our fellow humans and our environment? You have the daily choice as consumer, just ask at the counter about the origin of the products, look for the organic or fair trade seal and make a conscious choice.
Nowadays the consumer has many choices for every kind of product. If you buy products from companies that use alternative fuels in manufacturing, are conscious about their carbon footprint and try to operate socially and ecologically responsible, you make a statement. If the corporations notice that consumers make their purchase decisions on the base of those values, they will start to rethink the way they treat the environment and the people.
You can also look at the country of production to promote the local economy and avoids long routes of transportation.
Just buy your next book second hand. On Amazon you always get the “used” option, and there are many used bookstores around. The books are as good as new, it saves money and paper and somehow a used book is more interesting…
If you want to buy tables, chairs and couches from an environmental and socially responsible timber industry, you should look for a trustworthy proof of origin. Most manufacturers make their goods with promising certificates, but you should only go for the internationally valid seal FSC. Many dealers promote with fancy labels and convincingly-sounding certificates - but in reality the customer is misled.
The proof of origin is often self-made and offers no guarantee for an environmentally friendly and socially responsible product. The FSC label is the only ecological wooden certificate meeting the basic requirements of environmental associations and consumer associations.
FSC stands for Forest Stewardship Council and it is an independent organization of environmentalists, business representatives and social organizations.
The members have to define the minimum criteria for sustainable forest management and are acting worldwide. The FSC label is currently the only certificate to offer the possibility worldwide to observe the complete processing of the tree from the forest to the garden chair in the store.
Ask the seller for the exact origin of their wood products! If the company isn´t able to tell where the wood comes from: stay away! Ask for products from native hardwoods and prefer native timbers particularly if they are accompanied by the certificate of Naturland or FSC.
Buy your cosmetics from companies that don't use petroleum, that don't do animal testing and use organically grown cosmetic agents. Some companies go even further and support social end ecological projects from their profits. The big ones are for example: AVEDA, BODY SHOP or L'Occitane. Nowadays there are hundreds of brands that make up a big range of choices for every taste and budget.
Conventionally produced clothing harms the environment throughout the production process. The used pesticides, the toxic dyes that pollute rivers are often also harmful for people's health. There are other toxic chemicals used like formaldehyde that are used to avoid shrinking and creasing.
Today many companies convert to using organically grown cotton and avoid the use of toxic chemicals throughout production. When buying clothes next time, have a look on the label and ask for organic cotton.
Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade and is based on a partnership between producers and consumers. Fairtrade offers producers a better deal and improved terms of trade. This allows them the opportunity to improve their lives and plan for their future. Fairtrade offers consumers a powerful way to reduce poverty through their every day shopping.
Choosing regional and seasonal fruit and vegetables, that is to say, produce cultivated during its natural growing season, supports local jobs and limits pollution due to artificial heating and transport. Grown outdoors and picked when ripe, fruit and vegetables taste better and are more nutritious. Labelling must clearly mention the provenance.
The best thing is to go to the local farmers market to get fresh produce and meet the farmer personally. You can also look for organically grown fruit and vegetables to promote healthy soil in your region.
Every year, around 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide
Plastic bags are difficult and costly to recycle and most end up on landfill sites where they take around 400 years to degrade. They break down into tiny toxic particles that contaminate the soil and waterways and enter the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them.
Because plastic bags take hundreds of years to break down, every year our seas become 'home' to more and more bags that find their way there through our sewers and waterways. A continent size patch of plastic waste, weighing 3.5 tons drifts on the pacific ocean. Also, every time we use a plastic bag, we drive up the demand for oil - which is used to make plastics. So, why not stop using plastic bags by buying a shopping basket?
When shopping, go for the product with the least packaging. There’s always an alternative without much paper or plastic packaging, which will be thrown away anyway right after the purchase.
The easiest way to be sure about the provenance of the produce you buy is to go to the farmers market. You can also get regional products in supermarkets and wholefood shops, where you can chose between identical products from different origins.
Species appropriate husbandry is an important part of the quality of meat. Try to buy meat from your region, so it is easier to check quality and provenance. If you need more information on where your meat comes from just ask at the counter. Good shops can give you information on the farmer and the way they keep their animals.
When we talk about natural and organic food, what is it that's different about it? Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Moreover there are rules to follow with regard to the way animals are kept, fed and slaughtered.
The use of chemical pesticides has gotten to the point that almost everything we eat and drink is contaminated unless it is organic. Pesticides not only contaminate the food sources in the fields they are sprayed on, they contaminate the foods made for humans from them.
They contaminate the meat of the animals that eat the food sources that are sprayed with them. Likewise the dairy products and eggs, etc. are contaminated as well.
One key in shopping for organic products is to find a certified organic seal. This will indicate that you are getting a product which meets the organic standards. Every country has different seals for organic food, you can find them here
Diet is one of the most commonly overlooked things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. Even just one day a week really can make a difference.
If we all just commit to one day a week without eating meat, the effect will be great over the course of the year: If everyone in the US did this, about 12 billion gallons of gasoline could be saved.
Though the exact figures vary depending on which study you look at, according to a recent study done in the Netherlands, if the majority of the population adopted a completely vegetarian diet the costs of climate change mitigation could drop by 70%. And even if people just cut back their meat consumption to more reasonable levels, the costs of climate change mitigation can drop by 50%.
Especially the Bluefin Tuna is victim of overfishing and will be wiped out in 2012. Does it makes sense to kill and eat a whole species?
Most of the Tunas, like the bluefin and the yellowfin are being massively overfished and will be wiped out soon. Population numbers are only at about 20% or lower of the levels in 1970. The reasons are rising consumption of fresh fish, especially for Sushi and Sashimi in Japan, Europe and the US.
You can try to preferably buy fish from regional waters and avoid buying fish that is threatened by extinction.When buying fish, look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) seal. This certification program and seafood ecolabel recognises and rewards sustainable fishing. They work with fisheries, seafood companies, scientists, conservation groups and the public to promote the best environmental choice in seafood.
To see what fish can be enjoyed responsibly: