Ethics of Consumption


Not only was this the title of my foundation seminar, it is also my plan to save the world.

How much waste (in pounds) do you think YOU waste every year?

The average American actually generates 1,675.51 pounds of waster per year! We are first in the world for being the most wasteful, in front of Australia, Denmark, Switzerland, and Canada.  According to an FAO study, “roughly 1/3 of the food produced for food consumption every year – 1.3 billion tons – gets lost or wasted” every year.   I found this to be absolutely astonishing.  A third of the food produced? This could be given to the starving people of our world and help to solve world hunger.

Additionally, Check out these facts about the world’s consumption patterns vs. the cost of the world’s basic necessities:

Global Priority $U.S. Billions
Cosmetics in the United States 8
Ice cream in Europe 11
Perfumes in Europe and the United States 12
Pet foods in Europe and the United States 17
Business entertainment in Japan 35
Cigarettes in Europe 50
Alcoholic drinks in Europe 105
Narcotics drugs in the world 400
Military spending in the world 780

As Compared to…

Global Priority $U.S. Billions
Basic education for all 6
Water and sanitation for all 9
Reproductive health for all women 12
Basic health and nutrition 13

(Source: The state of human development, United Nations Human Development Report 1998, Chapter 1, p.37)

Looking at the facts, the choice should be clear.  Buy smart, waste less.

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4 Responses to Ethics of Consumption

  1. JWitty says:

    Congrats, Alyssa! I now feel like an even worse person. I took a 30 minute shower today…but regardless I completely agree with the sentiment of this post. Americans are largely wasteful. Thanks for putting in those numbers at the beginning!

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  3. Jordi says:

    Great post. Still, I would like to see you do it in 60 seconds or less. Especially after I bombed the other day.

    Do you think the change will come from millions of US consumers independently deciding to alter their consumption patterns?

    When my family of five lived in Barcelona last year, where there was curb side recycling of paper, aluminum, tetra brick, tin, paper, cardboard, and plastic, along with all-organics compostable trash 9including any fish, meat, poultry) our weekly trash, the stuff you just throw away, declined to about 2 five gallon trash bags a week. You know, like a big bathroom sized- bin. You could also weekly recycle hard stuff like batteries, electronics, fabrics, and so on.

    This is compared to here where we do little composting, have to haul our recycling, and have fewer recycling options. Here we are about two 25 gallon bags a week. And we are probably in the top 1-5% of households in terms of level of effort we will put in.

  4. Pingback: Winners of the Solutions/60 Second Idea to Change the World | Biz Gov Soc

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