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Symposium 2013

Solution for Towards Sustainable Consumption

The Challenge

A growing world population and increasing living standards imply large and accelerating resource use for individual consumption. The world’s population already consumes many of the planet’s resour ...

A growing world population and increasing living standards imply large and accelerating resource use for individual consumption. The world’s population already consumes many of the planet’s resources in unsustainable ways. It seems that economic progress in developing countries will also follow this pattern. A remedy may lie in more conscious behavior by consumers: sustainable consumption.

Raise awareness of the environmental and social impacts of consumption

Consumers need the chance to make informed choices. They have to be informed about the ecological and social impacts of products. Communication has to include all relevant life-cycle impacts. Consumers need to know if the low price of a product is due to severe working conditions, low employee remuneration, or environmental damage. Communication with consumers would be facilitated by a consistent labeling of products.

Including all factors in a life-cycle label can lead to improved working conditions that will lead to an increase in product prices. This facilitates a shift of focus from quantity to quality. First, consumers will buy fewer products. Second, a higher product value provides an incentive for repair instead of disposal.

Life-cycle assessments also help companies to make improvements throughout the value chain. Aggregated information from production, packaging, distribution and consumption helps developers to minimize the footprint of a product. Improvements become salient within the company.

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