Reducing consumption could substantially decrease the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions relesed each year, as well as cut down landfill and other forms of pollution. Today more than 80% of all materials are used once and then thrown away . Eliminating excess waste like this is one of the low-hanging fruit that we could easily take as a solution to climate change.
The products we consume require various kinds of environmental resources. Most products are transported vast distances before they reach their final point of sale. Transportation uses fossil fuels like oil in the ships, trucks and airplanes that move goods from one part of the world to another. The production process of most goods also requires energy, which usually means more fossil fuels being burnt.
Population growth multiplies the impact of higher average living standards. That means that reducing excessive consumption is key to lowering aggregate greenhouse emissions.
Yet not all populations are the same. The US and Canada, with 5.2% of the world’s population, consume 31.5% of the world’s resources. South Asia, with 22.4% of the population, is responsible for just 2% of consumption. In Africa, the average household consumes 25% less than they did 25 years ago. People in wealthy countries need to reduce their consumption levels far more than people in developing nations.
Reducing consumption is a hard message to sell, but one that we need to accept if we are serious about stopping climate change.
But reducing consumption does not mean a return to Dickensian poverty, living in starved self-denial to save the climate. Rather, reducing unnecessary consumption could actually make us happier.
Psychological studies tell us that people are happiest when they have their need their basic needs met, a sense of security, good strong relationships and the possibility of being the person that they want to be. Yet over-consumption in some cases actually prevents us from securing these needs. For instance, by working long hours for a higher salary and higher consumption, we might retard personal relationships that would make us happier in the long run.
What is more, less consumption does not mean deprivation. Rather, it could mean having only one car per household, less meat meals, fewer new clothes and long distance holidays and more locally sourced meals, domestic holidays and more efficient appliances.
In the developed world, these kinds of reductions would hardly affect living standards, but would radically affect our chances of avoiding climate change.
 Faircompanies, ‘Guide to Green Consumption’,