The word ‘consumption’ is associated with exhausting resources. For as long as civilisations have revelled in materialism, it has equally been criticised for the squandering, corruption and conflicts it leads to. The 1972 Club of Rome report The Limits to Growth again warned us that human beings were depleting non-renewable resources. Almost fifty years later, we have still not heeded the lesson.
“This is the society we wanted, and now we have unintended consequences that we have to deal with,” says David Newman.
Despite human progress, we must repair the environment we have broken in order to save ourselves.
What is triggering over-consumption?
We consume so as to compete, to not be excluded. We are innately restless, indeed insecure, and consuming keeps us alert, as Dimitri Raftopolous explains. Consuming products or experiences may help us survive. Yet once we surpass our basic needs, we feel intoxicated for a while, but we are not necessarily making ourselves happy.
Governments can temper excessive consumption, but they have their work cut out for them. Corporates who profit from planned or perceived obsolescence will resist change from the linear take-make-dispose model. What has value is not globally homogeneous: depending on where you are in the world, status might be moving towards or away from a meat-based diet. In the luxury sector, according to Purvi Shah, status is now more aligned with conscious consumption.
Not being able to consume during the Covid-19 pandemic has made people more reflective about their relationships, jobs and raison d’être. They want fewer, better quality things that truly reflect their value. Only time will tell if that is sustained.
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Author and Managing Director at BBIA, President of the World Biogas Association (WBA)
David started his career in a trading company in London where for 9 years he bought and sold pulp and paper around the world. In 1985 he moved to Italy where he lived for 30 years and most notably led Greenpeace Italy and worked in the international HQ for a short time. After those years he worked for local governments and then in the waste industry until 2015 and was also advisor to the Italian Environment Minister for a year. In 2020 he was voted among the top ten influencers in the United Kingdom environmental sector and sits on the Government’s resource and waste policy steering committee as well as on the board of several associations. David advocates passionately for environmental causes but especially for those to do with waste management and climate change. His writings, blogs and speeches are marked by a frank and direct approach in which he calls out the contradictions and hypocrisy contained within systems that privilege entrenched, private or corporate interests that are often detrimental to the public interest.
Integrated Psychotherapist, Relationship Therapist, Coach and Actor
Dimitri Raftopolous who is an integrated psychotherapist specialising in relationship counselling with women, men and couples. With over 15 years experience as a UKCP accredited Psychotherapist he has helped numerous clients overcome issues such as anger, depression and stress as well as the broader range of psychotherapy issues. As a leadership and executive coach he views emotional intelligence as a business basic, and blends practical business skills with all sorts of challenges. He is also a relationship coach for women and men. He’s worked with a large number of individuals and couples struggling to form, grow or sustain relationships with their partners. During the last 5 years he’s developed a programme to address the main issues for both men and women.
Senior Manager, Ethical Initiatives at De Beers Group of Companies
Purvi is Head of Ethical and Sustainable Value Chains at De Beers where she is responsible for the strategy, design and implementation of ethical initiatives that maintain and build reputation, seek to raise industry standards and are integrated into core commercial objectives. She also leads the Industry and Government Relations for De Beers Group. Purvi started her career at Microsoft Egypt where she implemented community investment initiatives in the Middle East and Africa region, in partnership with non-governmental organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme. Purvi holds a degree in Economics from the University of Nottingham and Executive Master in Public Administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science.