Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sustainable Consumption

Last week, I prepared a proposal for grant funding under the European Union's SWITCH Asia programme. Since Asia has evolved into a significant economic block, the programme seeks to increase Asian's awareness on cleaner and greener production and consumption practices. I specifically prepared a proposal under the sustainable consumption theme... which got me thinking, is my spending messing up the earth?

Sustainable consumption officially means "the use of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring better quality of life, while minimizing the use of natural resources, toxic materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations." Reading the definition makes me sad. Isn't it common sense that we should consume products this way? Are we too greedy and materialistic that a "term" must be coined to define how we need to consume products? I have to admit I'm guilty. I have a pile of bags stacked in one corner of my room, some of them used just once or twice. Isn't there a rule somewhere that says thou shalt change bags every week?

Come to think of it, green consumption actually translates to savings. Consume less, more money in your pocket. It's all about sticking to the bare necessities and making informed decisions when buying. To lessen my (our) wasteful ways, I have my top 10 green 'consumption' tips (that I'm proud to say I actually follow):
  1. Buy in bulk - Avoid sachets! Imagine those shiny packaging ending up in landfills. They will be mummified and immortalized forever! Buy commonly used products, especially those that don't stale, in large packs. Some which you can store up are shampoos, detergents, sugar, coffee, etc. (Store ground coffee in your freezer - locks in the aroma and freshness, yum! yum!). Besides, the unit cost of products in large packs is cheaper compared to those in sachets. (Do the math.) Also, the packaging for bulk products (bottles, sturdy plastic containers, cartons) are usually recyclable.
  2. Commute, walk - Despite our inefficient public transport system, I think there's no better way to go from one place to another than via trains LRT 1, LRT 2, MRT. Yes its stuffy and icky but its a lot quicker. You don't need to worry about parking or fuel. You hop on and off - that's it. It's cheaper and you avoid beastly carbon emissions. If you really want the convenience (?) of a private car, try carpooling. Try walking too. Skip the jeep, skip the tricycle or the pedicab and walk! I love to walk - it can shed serious pounds off!
  3. Stick to your grocery shopping list - It's every mother's advice - make a shopping list and try to stick to it. Include only necessities in your list. When you shop, allow yourself to pick a maximum of only 3 extra items not included in your list. At least your limiting your extra shopping if you can't stick to your list. Why its green - you minimize the waste you generate by not buying frivolous items.
  4. Reduce TV time - I have limited my TV hours to Top Design and Project Runway. Saves energy (reduce electric bill), and gives me time for more meaningful activities.
  5. Boycott fastfood chains - Fast food is unhealthy. The crispy, starchy and oily french fries you love is packed with carcinogens. Packaging is non-environmental. Plus, you don't get value for your money. Your neighborhood carinderia sells better food at a better price!
  6. Learn how to sew - Instead of throwing away torn and worn garments, mend them and use them again and again. If you don't want to use old clothes anymore, just give them to charity. Some even accept old shoes.
  7. Use re-usable bags when shopping, say NO to tiny plastic bags - I'm amazed at how small plastic bags can get. When you buy a few tablets from Mercury drug, they have a tiny plastic bag for it. Why can't they make small packets from used paper like the small drugstores are doing?
  8. Segregate - Its not rocket science! We have 2 bins at home: one for residuals and the other for recyclables. Residuals are the non-recyclabes such as plastic bags, food scraps, soiled paper, etc - this we hand over to the garbage collector. We dump into a single container all recyclables like tin cans, plastic bottles, glass bottles - this we give (sometimes sell) to our neighborhood mamang kariton. We store cartons in a separate box to keep them dry. Pool the extra income you get for some cheap thrill - like a pack of yummy chocolates!
  9. Brew your own coffee - The average cost of a cup of coffee from a fancy cafe is P80. One 350g pack of ground coffee is P140 - which makes around 50 cups. All you need is a little coffee maker or a nice coffee press and you have the same comforting cup of coffee. Use the filtered coffee grounds as fertilizer.
  10. Open a gmail account - Minimize printing e-mails or other files. Open a gmail account (with infinite storage capacity), and e-mail important files to yourself. No need to buy cds or keep hard copies of docs.


janettetoral.com said...

How did your proposal go? I like the top 10 tips. I urge you to tag other folks to add to those tips too.

PchesV said...

Still crossing my fingers until results are released by the 26th. Thanks for the tip!