Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production

Adrienne Porter
sustainable development

Responsible Consumption and Production

In the past few decades, worldwide consumption has spiked massively.

Consumption begins with resources that are readily available, or taken from the Earth. These resources are then used to create products, which are used by people.

To measure consumption levels, the UN records the amount of material consumption weight each year.

In 1970, the weight of consumption for the planet was 27 billion tons.

In 2017, the weight of consumption reached 92.1 billion tons. An increase of over 3X. The number is only growing.

On one hand, new products have helped create convenience in the lives of millions today. Yet, this consumption isn’t equally distributed. The world centric reports that 20% of the world’s population uses 86% of the tons of consumption produced each year.

Despite giving convenience to some, irresponsible consumption and production can be a negative to many others. Environmental pollution and hazards are created from careless waste, and they end up hurting a lot of the areas that don’t even experience a benefit from consumption increase.

These issues are exactly what this sustainable development goal wants to fix.

Responsible consumption does not have to equal a dramatic loss of convenience. Steps in the right direction can help strike a balance for all in the world.

How Trees Can Help

We’ve all heard the saying, “reduce, reuse, recycle”. It’s no surprise that it’s a good place to start.

Reduce generally means reducing the amount of materials used. Little things are a great first stepping stone, such as refillable water-bottles instead of single-use plastics. This is related to the consumption part of the goal, and it is something everyone can try to do.

But what if the world took that one step farther, and reduced the amount of carbon emissions on the production level.

This is where the trees come in. Mature trees absorb around 48 pounds of CO2 a year. Not to mention all of the other wastes they take out of the air on top of that. Forests, urban greenery, and strategic tree planting can help offset the carbon footprint that production creates.

Trees can serve to create responsible production by reducing harmful compounds before they hit the ozone or the environment.

Trees can also create responsible consumption.

After reducing, the next step of the system is reuse. Wood products can often be reused when they are slightly damaged or worn out. Instead of buying a new plastic item, new furniture can be created from repurposed wood.

Next comes recycle. Most tree products, such as paper, can be recycled. This helps slow the need for new raw materials from the environment.

Trees aren’t the only way to move towards responsible consumption and production but they are a great place to begin.

It’s also something everyone can be a part of! From planting a tree, to salvaging wood materials, to putting a piece of paper in the recycling bin instead of the trash, everyone can can help create a world with more conscious consumers and producers.

See how trees support all sustainable development goals here.

Image by Foto-Rabe from Pixabay.

Adrienne Porter
Adrienne is an undergrad in International Relations and Communication at SUNY Geneseo, New York. Outside of school, she can be found doing extracurriculars, hiking, or enjoying the sun. Adrienne has always prioritized giving back to the environment, and has found ways to do so both abroad and in her home town. She hopes to be able to continue helping the Earth with ForestNation.

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