Consumer society – Sustainability | ACCIONA

Nowadays people have all kinds of
products and goods to fulfill their needs, from the most basic to the most
sophisticated. In recent years it has become necessary to study how we consume products and how this behavior affects the environment and society. Society’s
current economic model is linear. Extraction of raw materials, manufacturing
and production, distribution, purchase consumption and finally disposal. During the first phase of the process, natural resources are extracted to obtain raw materials, products or energy, many of these resources are non-renewable or regenerate very slowly. During production, harmful chemicals are
used in the process to facilitate and increase production. Production is
offshored to developing countries, which often have very laxs regulations.
Polluting or toxic by-products are generated. Massive extraction and
production may even interfere with nature’s cycles. There is a dual problem
in the product distribution and purchase phase. Many times a product’s price does
not reflect its true environmental or social costs (such as the effects of
pollution or cheap labour) which affect people’s health and living standards.
Moreover, the growth is based on planned obsolescence, i.e is on having to
repeatedly buy the same product, which has an ever short a useful life. In the
end, most products are thrown away. The volume of waste production has doubled
in the last 30 years, and managing it is a real problem. This consumption model is not sustainable in the long run. The solution lies in a transformation of the economy driven by governments, companies and citizens. Governments must encourage
responsible production and legislate, so that companies produce in an
environmentally-friendly way and take responsibility for their externalities.
Consumers must demand responsible products and make informed decisions
while shopping. Companies must design products
responsibly and replace the linear production model with a circular one, in
which obsolete products are repaired and reused. A lot of people are already
working to achieve a circular economy but it is necessary to keep on
innovating in order to create a more sustainable planet.

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