We need to get there.
In a recent webinar, I learned that the United Nations and other groups from all around the world are looking at ideas and templates for delinking economic growth and environmental degradation.
Some of the quickest fixes include:
- Sustainable public procurement initiatives. Since governments control a lot of money (15-20% globally), how they choose to spend that money can move us toward better products and practices. California has jump-started this movement in the U.S. with the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council.
- Applying Life Cycle Analysis. Considering the entire life cycle of goods and the greenhouse gas emissions involved, from extraction and processing to shipment, use, and disposal, promises a more accurate means of weighing true costs.
- Increasing Efficiency/Decreasing Waste. By far the greatest driver of unsustainable resource consumption in human society is economic growth. Second, though with not nearly the same impact, is human population. We have to continually acknowledge that there is an ethical and moral dimension to how we use resources.
To state the obvious, we need to have economic growth in ways that put the least pressure on the ecosystems and ecosystems services that ultimately support us. But as Lars Mortensen of the European Environment Agency put it, sustainable consumption is harder than rocket science; it’s not just technology we need, but insight into human behavior. Changes in human behavior are essential to one planet living.