If you do a google search, “Ramp Show” you get about 2660 million links. Ramp shows are quite popular across cities in the world and have well engulfed the minds of both young and old. Everyone wishes to be ‘up-to-date’ on fashion clothing – seasonally changing the costumes. And, this of course maintains your flamboyance! Or at least that’s what the TV advertisements seem to suggest. No wonder, clothing and textile sector is the second most polluter in the world, the first being the oil sector. The former contributes 10 percent of the total carbon emission to the environment. This is just one instance of the impact of consumerism.

It may be noted that Asia and Pacific region is regressing on two key sustainable development goals i.e. on SDG 12: Sustainable consumption and production and SDG 13: Climate action. It is in fact not in the track of achieving any of the 17 goals under the Agenda 2030, finds the 2020 UN report on SDGs. Therefore the growth-centric development model has to change. Sustainable production and consumption hold the key to achieving other goals.

One may be surprised to know that 65 percent of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission is induced by the household consumption – prime among those are food, housing, clothing and transport. The Economic and Social survey on Asia Pacific 2020 done by UNESCAP and released recently discusses the actions towards low-carbon and sustainable economies involving responsible consumption and production patterns.

The on-going pandemic, COVID 19 has brought a grinding halt not only to the economy but also to the consumerist behaviour. But it also has taught that one can live with the basic amenities. While it’s necessary that a proper policy framework is put in place by the governments paving the way for a transition from the fossil fuel dominated energy production to renewable energy, and the business houses adopting a sustainable model by integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) into business, it’s also crucial to have a conscious consumer behaviour.

Consumption of animal-based food has negative repercussions on sustainability. The survey finds that the food systems currently contribute to one quarter of the GHG emissions and 70 percent of biodiversity loss. Increasing urbanisation has raised transport demands, but the choice for sustainable modes of transport is minimal leading to pollution.  The ways people use electrical appliances in their homes and workplaces are low in energy efficiency.

As a responsible consumer, one can reduce the animal-based diet as far as possible and develop plant-based dietary habits and eat seasonal and locally produced food. Preference in the use of public transports whenever possible and avoid taking out cars for every small need will be helpful. For the morning walk, one may just walk down to the nearest park instead of burning fuel. Do not make so many overseas pleasure trips only because you can afford it! Think that your savings on a single trip could feed some poor people and you also reduce your carbon footprints. Make a conscious choice in using energy-efficient eclectic appliances in your houses. Replacing your traditional incandescent lights by CFLs or LEDs will reduce energy consumption by 75 percent. And finally, manage with a small number of clothes and avoid buying single-use clothes. Stay rather out-dated on cloth preferences and updated on energy use to protect your planet!

Pradeep Baisakh is the Asia Coordinator of GCAP, a global Civil society campaign working on issues of sustainable development. Email: 2006pradeep@gmail.com



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