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12 Principles of Sustainable Consumption

12 Principles of Sustainable Consumption

Victoria Carter, CEO of NZ’s first cars by the hour company, cityhop writes when she sat on the Auckland City Council she was fortunate to go to a conference in Brisbane where Sr Suzuki challenged the local government attendees to think more carefully about the decisions they were making in terms of how it might effect their environment.

She has continued to read with interest Dr Suzuki’s environmental concerns. In his new book, Suzuki’s Green Guide, he has a list of 12 guiding principles of sustainable consunmption. We have adapted them slightly below but they are a good  reminder to make us think about our actions.

1. Remember the big picture. Worry less about plastic bags and think more about where you live, energy you use in your home, how often and how far you drive (and fly), what you eat.

2. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need. And if you are a bit like the author, Victoria, and you accumulate, then clear out regularly and share your stuff with the City Mission, Women’s Refuge, new migrants and so on. Reminds Suzuki, of the 3 environmental commandments, reduce, reuse, recycle, REDUCE is by far the most important.

3. Make food not waste. Before you buy something think ahead to when you will stop using it. For example, is the product readily biodegradable once you have finished with it?

4.Buy local. The closer to home that a product is grown , built or made generally the lower transportation costs, energy costs and related pollution.  See a blog we have coming up on Chinese jam!

5. Go for quality not quantity. Yes I know we suggest you bulk buy so you have less packaging. Suzuki is talking about selecting durable goods that last so you don’t need to replace so often. Re-circulate items like clothing, sporting equipment and kitchen goods through charities.

6. Support renewable energy. Seek out businesses who rely on wind, solar, geo-thermal or other renewable sources of power.

7. Make healthy choices. Avoid using toxic products.

8. Look for a high proportion of recycled content. Sometimes it’s easy to do with aluminium cans but sometimes we can seek out goods made from recycled materials, eg office supplies.

9. Demand better options. Green choices should be affordable and easy to find. Lobby your politicians - green issues shouldn’t be for fringe groups - it is in all our interests to be more open minded. Even if you don’t believe in global warming -it can’t possibly be a bad thing to reduce, recycle or reuse!

10. Encourage environmental leaders and innovators. Victoria says, “We need a media that gets excited at projects like car share because of the significant improvement in can have on our congested cities and health. But there are other companies too, who do good things from being green friendly The media needs to seek them out and celebrate them. And while we wait for the media you can show your support by buying or using their products!”

11. Clean up your mental environment. Reduce the constant stream of commercial messages telling you to buy more. Try wathcing less tv, cancel subs to catalogues, limit internet use! (that could be hard).

12 Lastly, how about trading money for time.  Kiwis, Aussies and Amercians work harder than Europeans - an estimated 10 weeks a year harder. Slow down and take more time for yourself, your garden, developing greener habits!

For those of you who don’t want to give up shopping- I understand! But did you know when you are shopping, for example for clothes, think about vintage alternatives, look at natural or organic fibres like wool, hemp, even bamboo (it’s so soft), tencel ( made from cellulose in wood pulp) and cotton.

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