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Various tips can lead to fairer, nature-friendly and economical consumption guidelines: Reflect, reject, reduce, reuse, recycle, redistribute and claim. Consumers who take these seven actions contribute to conserving the environment, achieving a more equitable world and, incidentally, saving money. Several simple tips to follow will make these seven “green” consumer R's possible.
Green consumers are thoughtful and critical. They recognize that human beings, like other living beings, are part of an interrelated whole: nature. Any action that puts human beings before nature to the detriment of nature has direct or indirect repercussions on current human well-being and that of future generations. Information and environmental education are key so that citizens can rethink their way of consuming.
The decisions consistent with this position are very diverse: choosing goods and services that are committed to the environment, walking, cycling or public transport instead of the private car, supporting the use of renewable energies and avoiding the use of energy as much as possible. fossil fuels, eating fresh, seasonal and nearby food, wearing clothes made with natural fibers, etc.
Toxic, non-biodegradable, or non-recyclable products should be left off the shopping list. This type of product can be found in many areas of the home and, whenever possible, its use must be rejected and replaced by others that are more respectful with the environment. Cleaning the house or the laundry can be done in an ecological way without resorting to industrial products.
Toxic, non-biodegradable or non-recyclable products should be left off the shopping list
Product labels and consumer information can help you figure out which ones to reject. Knowing the recycling symbols well can help you to know if materials will be recovered when their useful life ends. Some products have a great environmental impact and therefore should be rejected. This is the case of articles that use CFCs, which cause the destruction of the ozone layer, others that have a high carbon footprint, consume a large amount of virtual water, cause deforestation of virgin forests, are based on illegal traffic of threatened species or use illegal fishing gear or overexploit the fishing grounds, among others. As possible substitutes, products that guarantee the sustainable use of forests (FSC seal) or fishery resources (MSC seal), organic or fair trade products can be consumed.
The result of the formula is clear: fewer goods, less expenses, less exploitation of natural resources and less pollution and waste. Do not stop consuming, but do it with your head. Before purchasing a new product, ask yourself if it is really necessary.
Consumers can reduce their environmental impact in many ways. When buying, avoid products with excessive packaging. Whenever possible, choose large sizes and concentrated products to create less waste and save money at the same time. Water is not an inexhaustible good, although it seems so every time the tap is turned on. Various tips allow you to reduce your consumption without suffering the level of well-being. Similarly, power generation involves the use to a large extent of fuels that generate pollution, such as oil or radioactive materials, and the exploitation of nature. Energy expenditure can also be reduced at home with a few simple guidelines.
Extending the useful life of goods contributes to domestic savings and reduces environmental impact. Disposable containers or products are the antithesis of responsible and ecological consumption.
Extending the useful life of goods contributes to domestic savings and reduces environmental impact
Reuse is possible in many ways. When shopping, it is advisable to carry bags made of cloth or other materials that allow their prolonged use and avoid harmful plastic bags. Rechargeable batteries are less harmful than single-use batteries. The sheets of paper can be used on both sides and the cardboard boxes can be used more times to store other objects. Books, records, clothes, etc. They can be exchanged between family and friends, and it doesn't hurt to take a tour of the second-hand markets. Cheap is expensive, not only for your pocket, but also for the environment. Very cheap, poor quality products don't last a long time and end up in the trash. Instead, well-made ones can be reused more times. Taking proper care of the products, following the recommendations of the manufacturers and repairing them whenever possible will help them last longer. A more sophisticated way of reusing is the so-called "upclycling", which transforms an object without use or destined to be a waste into another of equal or greater utility and value. Consumers get new products and save money.
Separating waste properly for later recycling is an action with multiple environmental benefits. Recycled garbage does not end up in landfills, increasingly saturated, discarded materials are used to make new goods and, therefore, the extraction of new raw materials is avoided and energy consumption is reduced in their production. By recycling an aluminum can, you save a similar amount of energy as a television consumes for three hours. A good with recycled aluminum consumes 5% of the energy it would need if it were based on virgin material. EROSKI CONSUMER offers all the necessary information through its recycling school or its various articles.
Similarly, consumers can also compost a system that transforms organic waste into various green applications.
Imbalances between rich and poor countries affect not only their inhabitants, but also the environment. Humanity has doubled its global ecological footprint in the last 40 years, so that current consumption is based on the use of resources from other territories or future generations. If everyone in the world lived as an average citizen of the US or the United Arab Emirates, it would take more than 4.5 planets Earth. The ecological footprint of the Spanish is also high: more than three surfaces are required like that of Spain. The environment and humanity cannot support this unsustainable development indefinitely and, therefore, consumption must be redistributed equitably. Products with a lower ecological footprint or based on fair trade principles can reduce these differences.
Consumers can and should be actively involved in activities that influence their daily lives. The law protects the possibility of claiming and demanding actions that contribute to improving the environment and the quality of life of citizens. The lines of action are very diverse: demand from the institutions more measures to conserve and recover the environment, demand more infrastructures to be able to recycle, demand greater support for ecological products and renewable energies, demand the use of reusable bags in the supermarkets instead of disposable ones, claiming more recycled and recyclable products, claiming more environmental information, etc.
Consumers are the basis of the production system and their purchasing decisions can modify market trends. Therefore, responsible consumption is an indirect way of claiming that companies include the ecological variable in their goods and services.
By Alexz Fernández Muerza