Sustainable consumption

Main articles: Sustainability, Sustainable living

Definitions of sustainable consumption share a number of common features, and to an extent build in the characteristics of sustainable production, it's twin sister concept and inherit much of from the idea of sustainable development:

* Quality of life;
* Wise use of resources, and minimisation of waste and pollution;
* Use of renewable resources within their capacity for renewal;
* Fuller product life-cycles; and
* Intergenerational and intragenerational equity.

The definition proposed by the 1994 Oslo Symposium on Sustainable Consumption defines it as "the use of services and related products which respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life while minimising the use of natural resources and toxic materials as well as emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle of the service or product so as not to jeopardise the needs of future generations." [Source: Norwegian Ministry of the Environment (1994) Oslo Roundtable on Sustainable Production and Consumption.]

The Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production is one leading independent authority, that is exploring the dimensions of consumption and production. Perhaps controversially Tesco, the largest supermarket in the United Kindgom, announced in 2007 a £5m project to create a [ Sustainable Consumption Institute] (SCI).

It is important to note that sustainable consumption is not always equivalent to livable conditions. In the United States, for the most part, technology and capital are available to find or invent replacement resources and for people to find new occupations that are less destructive to the environment. The United States can start becoming a more sustainable society. [Source: Bauer, Joane. "Forging Environmentalism." New York: M.E. Sharp, 2006.] On the other hand, many developing countries do not have the ability to reduce their consumption of resources and are often subordinate to a more powerful government. Developing countries may receive necessary imports such as food from outside sources and furthermore may not be able to control the exploitation of their own natural resources by international companies. [Source: Cobb, John. "Sustainability." New York: Orbis Books, 1992.]


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