Spend Less, Gain More - Promoting Sustainability

Consumer patterns are experiencing major shifts as climate resource concerns become widespread. Increasingly, there is growth in environmentally sustainable markets - think organic and locally sourced produce, plastic-free products and clothes made from recycled fabrics.

But, why not take it one step further and simply consume less?

A study conducted by the University of Arizona suggests buying less, as opposed to buying “green” has more profound and beneficial impacts on both the environment and on ourselves. It is the overconsumption of resources, not so much the types of resources consumed, that is a leading contributor to global climate change, says University of Arizona researcher Sabrina Helm.

A study in the Journal of Industrial Ecology found that consumed products are responsible for up to 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and in an article by Uplift, Sarah Ripper suggests that people are buying 400% more clothes than we did 20 years ago.

We are living in an age where Millenials are the most influential group of consumers, but also highly value sustainable action and change.

They aim to solve the contradiction between their environmental and social values through “green buying” products with a limited environmental impact.

However, Helm believes that reduced consumption (repairing not replacing, reducing impulse or unnecessary purchases) “has effects on increased well-being and decreased psychological distress” and is “more important from a sustainability perspective”.

To put it simply, when you reduce consumption, you are reducing your stress levels, spending levels and environmental impact all at once. Circular economy advocates WRAP have found that extending the life of clothing by only nine months can already significantly reduce carbon, water and waste footprints.

Meanwhile, green buying, while still having positive environmental impacts, was not found to improve consumer well-being. “There are a lot of burdens with ownership,” Helm says, “having less and buying less can actually make us more satisfied”.

So, we are on the right track. We know we need to change, but not quite how. Our planet, and our bank accounts have limited resources. Analysts say that all it takes is to change our materialistic consumer patterns and to cut down on our spending in order to reap the psychological, financial and environmental rewards.

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