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Green consumerism



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  • 1. Changing Consumption for a Greener Tomorrow Green Consumerism
  • 2. Introduction Products have environmental impacts throughout their lifespan Some potential environmental impacts are not known by most consumers Products can also have detrimental health impacts Consumer and producer mindsets- key factors in environmental impact
  • 3. Knowing Potential Impact Life-cycle assessment “a method that allows us to systematically tear apart any manufactured item into its components and their subsidiary industrial processes, and measure with near-surgical precision their impacts on nature from the beginning of their production through their final disposal.” (Goleman, 2009)
  • 4. Product Life Cycle 5 stages: Extraction Production Distribution Consumption Disposal
  • 5. Extraction Products are made of raw materials Raw materials are sourced from nature, often coming with impurities Common raw materials for products: Rocks and minerals Plants Water
  • 6. Extraction: Rocks and Minerals Often mined from mountains, underground, caves etc. as ore Involves clearing vast expanses of land, often with vegetation Destroys natural habitats Uses chemicals in order to soften the ground for digging Contamination of soil, groundwater, nearby bodies of water May even involve mountaintop removal
  • 7. Extraction: Rocks and Minerals Contains impurities (minerals in trace amounts only) Purification involves large amounts of energy, water, and chemicals “Most of the ore-and an ever increasing amount, as high grade sources disappear-ends up as waste.” (Leonard, 2010) According to Dirty Metals: Mining, Communities, and the Environment, “Chemicals used in processing contaminate at least 90 billions tons of waste ore per year globally…”
  • 8. Extraction: Water Often used in numerous industrial and domestic processes, usually in very large amounts 256 gallons of water for 1 T-shirt! 36 gallons of water for 1 cup of coffee! Can easily be contaminated by a plethora of pollutants Toilets: water contaminated with domestic waste
  • 9. Extraction: Plants Found in many places in nature Often cut down for wood, pulp (paper making) and other materials UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): Net decrease of 6M hectares/year from 2000-2010 Threat to biodiversity, loss of habitats and valuable tools to mitigate climate change and pollution
  • 10. Production Raw materials put together to create final product Majority of raw materials synthetic Not too much known about possible health and environment impacts Some highly toxic and can contaminate the environment “Low-dose exposures over time can have tragic outcomes…reduced intelligence, lowered immunity, ADD, infertility, cancer, etc. “ (Colborn, T. et al., 1996)
  • 11. Production Done in manufacturing plants High energy and resource demand Waste products from manufacturing process leech into soil, air, water
  • 12. Distribution Process of delivering products to where they are needed i.e. stores, warehouses etc. including selling to customers Goods transported by trucks, ships, planes, trains, etc. Emit large amounts of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases As of 2005 contributed to 23% of the world’s emissions, including developing nations Emissions from transporting goods linked to lung cancer and cardiopulmonary ailments which can be lethal
  • 13. Consumption Actual usage of the product until it is replaced Marketing lures many people to buy new products, even when they are not truly needed Planned obsolescence Defined by Brooks Stevens, an American industrial designer as, “instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than necessary.” According to Annie Leonard (2010), “In planned obsolescence, products are intended to be thrown away as quickly as possible then replaced.”
  • 14. Consumption Example of planned obsolescence: Cellphones have an average lifespan of only 1 year New generations/iterations of certain models are introduced very quickly, prompting consumers to replace their current phones, even if they are in good working condition
  • 15. Phil Schiller Vice President for Marketing Apple, Inc.
  • 16. Consumption Global Footprint Network (GFN)-an organization measuring overall ecological footprint of humans and of individual countries Currently, consumption is at 1.5 earths per year, or 50% more resources than the planet can sustain If all nations had consumption patterns akin to the US, we’d consume the equivalent of 5.4 earths!
  • 17. Disposal Discarding of products that are a.) no longer useful, b.) no longer wanted, or c.) both Options for end of life disposal: Landfills and open dumps Incinerators Dumping in waterways and littering Composting Recycling Reusing
  • 18. Disposal-Landfills and Dumps Open dumps-waste is dumped in an open area Attracts flies, rats, other disease carrying organisms Gases emitted cause air pollution and foul odor, leachate causes water pollution
  • 19. Disposal-Landfills and Dumps Landfill-engineered facility where garbage is covered by a layer of soil daily, includes leachate and gas collection and treatment systems Inevitably leak due to liner rupturing under immense pressure, polluting soil and groundwater Leachate contains many toxic substances such as heavy metals Ex. Manganese-->damage in areas of the brain responsible for movement, possible link to Parkinson’s Some gases produced, when burned can cause adverse effects
  • 20. Disposal-Incinerators Reduces volume of waste by as much as 90% (Hufemia, 2007) Can be used to generate electricity (waste to energy) Generates ash (particulate matter), which may contain heavy metals and must be disposed of in landfills and gaseous emissions Generates organic compounds such as dioxins, some of the most toxic man-made substances Carcinogen, linked to birth defects, infertility, learning disabilities, etc. Trivia: Philippines-only country to ban garbage incinerators
  • 21. Disposal-Dumping in waterways and littering Aesthetically unappealing Causes land and/or water pollution Clogs drains Flooding during heavy rain Can be ingested by organisms, poisoning them
  • 22. Disposal-Composting Only for biodegradable waste Degraded into organic matter which can be used to fertilize soil Restores nutrients to soil, maintains ecological balance Aids in plant growth
  • 23. Disposal-Recycling Only for recyclable materials Reduces the need to extract more resources Extends the usable time period of materials before they become waste Much less energy is used to manufacture products from recycled material than virgin material Aluminum recycling-up to 95% energy savings vs. aluminum ore extraction and purification! Reduces carbon dioxide emissions
  • 24. Disposal-Reusing Some used materials can still be used again before having to be disposed Ex. Paper where front side has been used, Plastic bags from grocery shopping, etc. Extends the usable lifespan of materials Reduces need for sourcing virgin materials Avoids impact associated with extraction Less carbon dioxide emissions Less energy used
  • 25. What can be done on your part? Awareness! Be informed about how environmentally friendly your product actually is! Goodguide.com-website that assesses a myriad of products based on environmental impacts, now has an iOS app Greenpeace’s Guide to Green Electronics- Evaluates electronics producers in terms of their overall environmental impact, updated yearly View product LCA’s if possible Buy products with proper environmental certification Buy locally made products Causes less overall pollution and GHG emissions than non-local equivalents
  • 26. What can be done on your part? Buy products with less packaging Less packaging=less materials=less harm Take part in proper waste segregation and reduction 3 R’s Composting, if possible Reject products that are highly toxic to human health and the environment Do not throw away or replace products that are still in good working condition Alternatives include handing down to siblings/relatives, selling, take-back programs or maintenance
  • 27. Conclusion Each part of a product’s life cycle has considerable environmental impacts Our role as consumers is to reduce impact where possible Buying products which cause less environmental harm benefits us as well Lesser health impacts We should also be mindful of how to properly dispose our waste and reduce the amount of waste produced Remember: “There is no away.” “One man’s trash, another man’s treasure.”
  • 28. Bibliography  Bilton, N. Disruptions: You Know You Can’t Live Without Apple’s Latest Glass Rectangle: New York Times (October 29, 2012). Retrieved November 9, 2012, from http://finance.yahoo.com/news/disruptions-know-cant-live-without-163824479.html  Goleman, D. (2009). Ecological Intelligence. New York: Broadway Books.  Hufemia, A. (2007). Resource Recovery…Begins With Me. In Emilyn Q. Espiritu, Ph.D. (Ed.) Introduction to Environmental Science : Managing Resources for Sustainable Development (pp. 212-230). Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press.  Leonard, A. (2010). The Story of Stuff. New York: Free Press  Aluminum Recycling: Chicago Recycling Coalition. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from http://www.chicagorecycling.org/aluminum.htm  Dioxins & Furans: The Most Toxic Chemicals Known to Science: Energy Justice Network. (2012). Retrieved November 12, 2012, from http://www.ejnet.org/dioxin/ Manganese Exposure and Diagnosis of Manganism or Manganese poisoning: Brayton Purcell LLP. (2012). Retrieved November 12, 2012, from http://www.welding-rod- dangers.com/illness/illness_manganism_detect.htm  State of the World's Forests: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. (2012). Retrieved July 21, 2013 from http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3010e/i2010e.pdf  World Footprint: Global Footprint Network. (2013) Retrieved July 20, 2013 from http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/world_footprint
  • 29. Images http://sydney.edu.au/facilities/images/Sust ainable_campus/procurement/product_lc(la rge).jpg http://mountainjustice.org/facts/images/MT Rsteps.jpg http://www.blueenvironmental.com/images/ imgLandfillDiagram.jpg
  • 30. Thank you for listening! Questions?