Ethics and Consumerism Patricia Mackey Sustainable Northern Ireland Why sustainability matters What is Sustainable Development? “To enable all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs & to enjoy a better quality of life… …without compromising the quality of life of future generations” Securing the Future, UK's Sustainable Development Strategy, HM Government 2005 Why sustainability matters: A Global Perspective limits living within environmental life supporting resources declining consumption of life supporting resources rising ©2003 The Natural Step: All rights reserved Source: The Natural Step Beyond the environment: the triple bottom line Principles of Sustainable Development Living within environmental limits: Ensure natural resources to support life remain unimpaired Ensuring a strong, healthy & just society: Meet diverse needs of all; promote wellbeing, inclusion & equal opportunity Achieving a sustainable economy: Strong, stable, efficient & fair Global Challenges Climate Change: Why it’s happening Without heat trapping “Greenhouse gases” Earth would be 25C cooler Human activity is increasing levels of greenhouse gases in atmosphere CO2 has increased from 280 to 380 ppm Rising between 2 and 3 ppm/year Main source is fossil fuel combustion for energy and transport Average surface warming of 1 to 6C expected What’s at stake: projected global risks Monbiot: 90% cut by 2030 Tyndall: 90% cut by 2050 UK Gov: 60% cut by 2050 • Rice yields fall 15% • Increasing extreme weather events • Indian Ocean coral dies • 400m extra in water stress • 5m extra in hunger • 18% species loss • Greenland icecap melts o 1 C • 97% coral reefs bleach • Major city flood risk • Arctic summer sea ice melts • >50% species loss • 2.3-3bn water shortage • “Runaway” climate change • 200m more at risk from - Forest die-back malaria - Permafrost melt • Ecosystem collapse - Carbon release from soils • Human cost? o o 2 C >2 C Pollution: damaging health and the environment “UK air pollution more dangerous than Chernobyll” 24,000 premature deaths per year (Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution) Over 100,000 man-made chemicals exist Only 3,500 have been adequately tested for health and environmental impacts Over 300 man-made chemicals can be found in the average European’s blood With globalisation, Europe is exporting its pollution overseas Waste: our throwaway economy 10 x 10 x 10,000 kg raw Manufacture materials EXTRACT 1000 kg finished product CONVERT USE 6 months 100 kg long-term durables DISCARD Consumption should not be an end in itself: need to rethink value and efficiency Biodiversity: the sixth extinction Up to 50% of species could be wiped out by climate change Widespread decline in wildlife populations Habitat destruction and loss of wilderness Over-harvesting of timber, fisheries Falling fertility from pollution Invasion of alien species Global Inequalities Poverty: an ever widening gap UK average high street coffee price $2 20% of world survives on less than $2 per day The goal: One planet living Ecological footprint = equivalent area of land required to meet an individual’s needs Food, fibre, waste, energy, space Measured in “Global hectares per capita” (gha) “Equal sustainable share” = 1.8 gha “Global average footprint” = 2.2 gha “UK average” = 5.6 gha The Ethical Footprint of a Beef Burger Beef cattle eat crops (1300Kg grains and 7200Kg roughages) Crops grown abroad e.g. Soya in South America, where rainforests have been cleared to make room Animals may also have grazed on land of cleared rainforests May be labelled ‘British’ or ‘Irish’ but only a proportion of the processing may actually be done here We are consuming ‘other people’s water’ and using ‘other people’s land’ Beef and dairy cattle produce methane and other greenhouse gases Group Exercise Work as groups Think of the last pair of jeans you bought? Identify impacts of jeans What information did you use to make a decision on what pair you eventually bought? Social, environmental and economic How can we as consumers make a difference? The mileage in a pair of jeans… These jeans, arrived at Gap, Belfast, a few days ago in a container that came from Lee Cooper's warehouse at Staple's Corner, just at the bottom of the M1 in north London. There they had the Gap label attached to them before being packaged up and posted off in plenty of time for the weekend rush. Before that, they came through the Channel tunnel on a lorry from a similar warehouse in Amiens, France and, Before that, by boat and train from Tunis in Tunisia. From Ras Jebel, to be more precise, a good hour's drive north of the city through flat Mediterranean farmland where the fields are fat with artichokes and the pencil cypresses sway in a surprisingly chilly spring breeze.” The Jeans workshop It takes about 1.6 meters of denim fabric, several hundred meters of sewing thread, 6 rivets, 1 or 5 jeans buttons, 4 labels (usually imitation leather), and optionally a zipper to make a pair of jeans. An average jeans factory can make about 2,500 pair of jeans per day. A stonewash for 150 pairs of jeans takes 150 kilos of pumice stone and more than 750 liters of water. Depending on how faded the look will have to be, they will be washed somewhere between 30 minutes and 6 hours. The Components of a pair of jeans Manufactured in a factory in Tunisia Denim spun in Milan Synthetic dye manufactured in Germany Sold in …. Thread made in Lisnaskea Pumice to stonewash the jeans from a volcano in Turkey Copper for the zip and rivets mined and smelted in Tsumeb, Namibia Cotton for the denim grown in Benin, West Africa Ethical Consumerism: Making the Right Choices Ethical consumerism is about how you choose to spend your money and what sort of goods you choose to buy. What you spend your money on affects other people and the environment. Ethical consumers buy things from companies that act ethically. These companies try not to harm the environment or society. •Trade affects the economies of other countries and groups within society positively and negatively. •Does our prosperity and happiness come at a cost to others?