Ensuring sustainable personal consumption

Eliminating unnecessary personal consumption
Reducing amount of wasteful individual consumption
Reducing unsustainable personal consumption

Eighty-six percent of the purchases for personal consumption are made by twenty percent of the world's population.

Resource consumption is a key driver of environmental degradation. Policy measures to attack this issue must reduce population growth, reorient consumption patterns, increase resource use efficiency and make structural changes to the economy. Ideally, such measures must simultaneously maintain the living standards of the wealthy, upgrade the living standards of the disadvantaged, and increase sustainability. This will require a shift in values away from material consumption. Without such a shift, environmental policies can effect only marginal improvements.


The Alternative Consumer Association, AKB, works on raising consumer awareness about (un)sustainable food consumption and production. AKB publishes a monthly newsletter with product information which goes to 5,000 subscribers, as well as books, posters, postcards and reports on its campaign issues. Its most recent campaigns have focused on Gene Technology in Supermarkets, Biodiversity and Clean Clothes. In June 1996, AKB organized The Food Festival in the botanical gardens of Utrecht, which featured an ecological garden with high biodiversity, a market place selling eco-products and speakers on related themes. Some 1500 people.

Buy Nothing Day/No Shop Day (November 27 or 28, country-dependent) is a day of cheerful and critical protest against Western overconsumption, the unequal worldwide distribution of well-being and wealth, and the influence of advertising on our daily lives. The International Buy Nothing Day was first celebrated in 1992 and is particularly celebrated in countries that have a very high level of consumption. On Buy Nothing Day diverse countries and cities host lively and eye-catching street actions, in which the shopping public will be asked to think about their own consumer behaviour.

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal