On many occasions we talk about consuming responsibly or compromising our consumption. But what is really responsible consumption? – How can we, as consumers, compromise our purchases? What is the importance and implications of consuming local products?
In order to understand the importance of consuming locally and to shed some light on all these issues, we have to explain the entire value chain of a product, from its manufacturing process through its life cycle distribution and its end.
Local consumption has a fundamental objective: Sustainable development. As we have stated on many occasions, sustainability is the way of life in which we can combine development, consumption and the protection of resources and the environment in which we live. In short, the way to protect and secure the future of the planet and its resources. And in all this consumption comes into play as the means of each and every one of us to achieve these goals.
When we speak in terms of consuming locally we have to go beyond the simple gesture of going to the supermarket or the on-call store in our city or town. This concept, so important for the future of the planet, has its implications in each of the phases of the life cycle of the product:
- Choice of raw materials
The consumption attached to the proximity, to the locality of the producers and their products, brings socio-economic benefits that remain in the place of production, helping the economy of the area, creating employment, helping to compete and enter the market to local producers, favoring fairer prices and ultimately benefiting sustainable development.
Similarly, this type of consumption generates great environmental benefits and it is one of the fundamental pillars on which citizens can have an influence in the fight against global warming and climate change.
Local consumption saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions that are produced especially in the transport itineraries of products from their production centers to places of marketing or consumption. In the same way, consuming seasonal products, as far as food is concerned, reduces importance with the consequent reduction in transport emissions.
Responsible consumption. Manufacture and consume with conscience.
When we talk about responsible consumption, we are not only talking about the final consumer, but a fundamental part of the consumption chain is formed by producers and manufacturers, who from their position must be the first tractors for an economic model based on a development that leads to sustainability.
Starting from the choice of raw materials, manufacturers must take into account the proximity of raw materials to their production centre in order to minimize emissions and favour the local economy in their acquisition.
With regard to the manufacturing stage itself, the strategies for searching for the best available techniques and their implementation will lead to the reduction of not only monetary but also and especially environmental costs in the final product manufactured.
This objective is especially helped by the ecodesign strategies of the product that they try to manufacture incorporating the environmental factor into the industry, minimizing environmental costs.
At this point, local purchasing, responsible consumption from the point of view of the distribution stage, where the environmental costs deriving from this stage, concentrated in packaging waste (energy consumption in packaging and packaging) and above all the emissions produced in transport from the factory to distributors and/or final consumers suppose a high environmental price when the distances of supply of these products exceed local, regional or regional distances.
It is estimated that by 2050 the global contribution of transport to greenhouse gas emissions could be 30%. We must therefore be aware of what products and where they come from, before acquiring these goods. Seeking as far as possible viable alternatives in our immediate environment.
At this crossroads, we ourselves are directly affected by this erroneous way of manufacturing, distributing and consuming. But we also have the power to change this situation very easily: to compromise our consumption, to take responsibility for the way we buy. Influence a change that is possible from our microeconomic sphere.
Buy and consume local products, benefit the small economies of your region and do not incur in consumption that involves long distances of supply that put at risk the environment as we have already explained.
In this order of things, there is another key issue in the direction of providing solutions and the means for the citizens to act correctly. In this case, we are talking about the environmental product declaration. An instrument at the service of consumers to trace each and every one of the stages of the product and to be able to offer the best purchasing information to the consumer. An instrument whose impulse on the part of the public institutions should already be regularized and obliged.
All in all, it’s about reducing impacts. Environmental and economic impacts that lead us to a fairer society and to the safeguarding of the planet and its resources.
We need to move towards a model based on economies of scale where profit is localized. We need to justify sustainable consumption by reconciling needs with respect for and management of resources. In short, we need to consume from the premise of sustainable development, from the logic and respect that environmental protection should impose on us, because without the environment there is no planet, there is no life.
Consume responsibly, commit your consumption.