The individual contributes to why the world is in overshoot: We are all consumers, designers, producers, policy makers and have a direct influence on our surrounding environment and community. The choices we make daily, from what we eat to how we get to work or school, has an accumulated effect that either decreases our natural resources or stimulates new behavior amongst our peers.
Focusing on the individuals, within the different roles, I want to look into the consumption patterns and the consequences of these choices. Behavior that stimulates a fair trade for all stakeholders in supply chain of the product or service. Focusing on how the consumption behavior can be motivated to change and how the individual can be guided to make better daily choices. But how does this consumption behavior become weaved into our societies as a norm?
How to change consumption behavior by considering the consumer roles as designers, producers and policy maker and the influence the consumer have for the future of the next generation?
The current sustainable consumer trends and behavior is consuming fast and want things that is quickly accessible, easy to get by and will satisfy our short term needs, as being part of a convenience culture. We buy online, we eat in restaurants, and wear fast fashion. By being constantly connected with one another, we have fallen into the trap of information overload that support impulsive buying behavior in the quest to find a sense of belonging that is lost in the over-connectedness.
“Wicked problems is a class of social system problems which are ill-formulated, where the information is confusing, where there are many clients and decision makers with confusing values, and where the ramifications in the whole system are thoroughly confusing” (Rittel, 1973).
Most of us are set in routines, have already established shopping habits, and already have lives that demand a lot of their time. We care, but don’t have the time or energy to do all the research all of the time, or to try and consider every single intersecting factor that can affect whether we call something ethical or sustainable.
The term conscious consumption is used to describe informed decision based on brand and product knowledge and considering the impact of the raw materials used to produce, the process of production and the usage, on the environment and the humans involved in all phases of the product life cycle. This consumer has an awareness of person effect on the local environment and wider effect of consumption. If this sounds like you, you are part of the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) consumers.
Within the consumer society I believe using education, marketing, and social norm management as leverage point can change the system towards conscious buying behavior and sustainable citizenship. The relationship between obtaining intrinsic satisfaction from sharing behaviors and sustainable consumerism can lead to society reconnecting and improving the well-being of each others through the sharing of products, physical resources, and people’s time.
Being informed can lead to make better choices based on moral, ethical and value. Setting rules and policies as guidance paths can leading the way for individuals to change consumer behavior that will support a better future for the next generation. Trend setters and respected people within a community can lead with example and may influence others to follow.
1. Look at the country of origin and where it was produced
2. Before buying new, first repair items.
3. Choose ‘green products’ over conventional ones
4. Service your products to keep from breaking or need for replacement
5. Support local produce
6. Ask yourself if you really need the product
7. Know the brand value you are supporting
8. Be a citizen of your community, share and care
9. Share knowledge with others
Hereby is a Sustainable Consumer Guide as a suggested tool to help rethink how our needs are met and products are conceived.