When I was born in 1965, there were 3.3 billion people in the world. If I live to 85, 9.8 billion are projected — almost three times as many.
While this startling statistic prompts me to question if it’s time for policy to curb population growth, it also draws attention to overconsumption.
How Many Earths Can We Consume?
Population grows fastest in developing nations, but it is developed nations who consume the most resources. You have probably seen a meme which suggests that, if we all lived like Americans we would need four planets to sustain us.
We can shake our heads at American culture and head out for the latest iPhone, but turning our gaze inward is more productive.
For example, global per capita spending on clothing is $US330 a year but Australians spend an average of $833 US each per year.
If this is a shock, before you head to the mall, here are four things you can do to lower your consumption. And guess what? They will ALSO save you money!
Every retailer is out to snatch your well-earned cash. But don’t forget, unless you are independently wealthy, money equals time at work.
The less you spend, the less you need to work or the earlier you can retire. Before you go shopping for the latest shoes, shirts and sound systems, take stock of what you already have.
Do you really need it, or are you getting sucked into marketing hype? When you read a price tag, convert it into hours you would have to work to get that amount back!
Make A Shopping List
Before you hit the shops, make a list. Yeah, I know I sound like your granny, but this is one of the best ways to avoid being sucked into the hype.
A jacket may say you will save 30% if you buy now, but if you avoid the temptation completely, you save 100%!.
Declutter Your Stuff
As our culture of consumerism booms, we need more space for our STUFF. When we consider floor space, Australians have the largest homes in the world but Australia and New Zealand also boast over 2,000 self-storage facilities because people can’t fit the STUFF they have in their house.
The demand is growing so much that investment analysts suggest the industry as a lucrative business option.
Why not buck the trend? If you haven’t used something for a year, perhaps you no longer need it.
Consider decluttering and donating your STUFF to a charity organisation to redistribute to those in need.
Buy Second Hand
My daughter and I absolutely LOVE what we call ‘op shopping’ in Australia.
When we find a one-off bargain in a charity shop, it gives us a sense of accomplishment and when someone compliments me on my outfit, I am the first to share where it came from.
It warms my heart to think I am saving money, supporting important social organisations, and reducing my own carbon footprint.
Conduct Your Own Consumption Survey
I conducted a little survey in my closet yesterday. The clothes on the right were bought new. The clothes on the left were second-hand. What would you own survey reveal?
It's easy to become despondent or apathetic with the constant barrage of negative environmental news, but there is hope.
We don’t have to devote our entire lives to environmental change (although we should applaud and support those who do). If we all become miniscule change-makers, we might be able to pull our ecosystems back from the brink.
As the formidable Dr. Jane Goodall says, each one of us must take responsibility for our own lives, and each of us has a role to play.
Maybe, like me, you can do it through promoting environmental narrative.
Together, we can make a difference! We can change our consumption habits and save our precious resources. What do you think?