What is the concept of a sustainable consumption society?
And how can you be a part of it?

In today’s world, where natural resources are being depleted at an alarming rate and waste issues continue to grow unabated, the production sector seeks to use the limited resources available as efficiently as possible to meet the endless demands of consumers. Addressing these problems requires the cooperation of all stakeholders, including consumers who, as users of these valuable resources, need to become aware of these issues and learn about new ways of living to help create a sustainable consumption society.


First, let’s understand what the concept of a sustainable consumption society is:

Sustainable consumption is about using goods and services efficiently to meet essential life needs, consuming just enough to minimize waste. It aims to reduce the negative impacts on the economy, society, and the environment, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The ultimate goal of sustainable consumption is to improve the quality of life for the current and future generations, considering the limited state of natural resources that must be preserved and the environmental impacts that arise.


Today, many people are still not aware of or do not fully appreciate the importance of sustainable consumption. To raise awareness and drive change, here are three key aspects of sustainable consumption:


1. Adjusting consumption behavior to be appropriate

Consuming appropriately doesn’t mean consuming less, but rather meeting needs without overburdening others (both current and future generations) and minimizing waste or environmental impact.

This process begins with the decision to purchase and use environmentally friendly products and services, which will lead to sustainability in terms of preserving resources for future generations. Consumers must be well-informed and aware of the importance of sustainable consumption as a first step.


2. Promoting efficient production and resource recycling

Sustainable consumption must be coupled with sustainable production. When consumers choose environmentally friendly products and services, it spurs production sectors to focus on efficient manufacturing processes. Producers can initiate sustainable production concepts without always waiting to see consumer behavior first.

Efficient production is underpinned by the concept of sustainable manufacturing, where production processes are designed to meet essential needs without damaging the environment and are ready to enable the recycling of resources. This includes selecting raw materials and technologies that are environmentally friendly, managing production processes efficiently to maximize output, and managing waste after usage.


3. Educating and promoting environmentally friendly marketing

One of the challenges in creating a sustainable consumption society is providing comprehensive education since both consumers and producers may lack knowledge and understanding of this area. Incentives to change consumer behavior are also often lacking. Relevant agencies must help educate consumers as follows:

  • Organize workshops to educate and engage consumers in environmentally friendly consumption activities, such as workshops on different packaging materials and the process of sorting waste for recycling.
  • Create marketing campaigns for various products and services aimed at minimizing environmental impact, such as changing packaging to be more eco-friendly. Producers must provide clear information on why the changes are made, the benefits of the changes, and what consumers gain from them. If producers are sincere and value these changes, consumers will recognize their worth and participate in campaigns without relying on any promotions.
  • Support laws to push producers to consider full environmental impacts, like “Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR),” which extends the producer’s responsibility. This law can be another tool for the state to apply, to guide producers to consider environmental impacts from design to distribution, returns, collection, reuse, and recycling. It can also help raise consumer awareness about the problems of different types of packaging after consumption.

And how can you participate in a sustainable consumption society?

Awareness of resource and environmental issues is spreading in every sector of society, from production to media to consumers. So, as a consumer, you can fully engage in solving these problems by taking part in various ways across all involved sectors, as follows:


1. Change your personal consumption behavior

Firstly, as a consumer, you should be aware that your consumption behavior impacts many systems, including the environment and production systems. Your consumption behavior is a factor that can lead to positive development and change. To be part of a sustainable consumption society, you can contribute by considering the value of products and services and their environmental impact. Once you realize this, you can change your consumption habits, such as buying and consuming only what is necessary, reducing the use of hard-to-decompose or single-use packaging, and sorting waste to facilitate disposal and recycling.


2. Support businesses with eco-friendly policies

Consumer behavior is a crucial factor in planning production and marketing strategies. Your response to products and services directly affects businesses. Overall, green businesses that care about the environment and sustainability are very appealing to consumers because they demonstrate a responsibility to the community. Therefore, consumers should support these businesses to encourage entrepreneurs and the production sector to continue doing good for society. You can easily participate in this support, for example, by supporting businesses that use clean energy or natural energy in their production processes, buying products from stores that use easily degradable and recyclable materials, and using the most energy-efficient and environmentally low-impact transportation services.


3. Raise awareness about sustainable consumption to others

We want every consumer to realize that you can be a messenger without always waiting for official communications from responsible organizations. So, when you’re informed, understand, and are aware of the importance of sustainable consumption, you can pass these stories on to others. You can make people see and tell your family, neighbors, or even regular stores and customers about eco-friendly products and services, the benefits of various environmentally-friendly packaging, or write and share content about green lifestyles.


Sustainable consumption is inextricably linked to both production and consumption and cannot be separated. Activities from both sides proceed hand in hand, complemented by publicity from media that play a role in transmitting information and campaigns. Valuing and preserving resources and the environment from all sides today is for building a sustainable society for both the present and a future that the next generation will inherit.


In our next articles, we will discuss EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility), to help readers understand and visualize how we can support the creation of a real circular economy in our country. Stay tuned.

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² Green Peace, “Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)”, 2020