On March 15, marking the 14th European Consumer Day, the conference “Sustainable Consumption in a Time of Crisis” explored the possibility of making sustainable consumption a mass-reality in the time of crisis.
Invited by the European Economic and Social Committee and the Danish Consumer Council, representatives from across Europe analysed the potentials and limitations of market-driven sustainability. There was a broad consensus that the current time of austerity should be seen as an opportunity to fundamentally transform the foundations of European economy towards sustainable consumption. Using resources wisely and minimising waste and pollution could boost new economic models while preserving raw materials and the environment.
In this regard, rather than more expensive or not even an option, sustainable products and services should become the ‘easy choice’ for consumers. Various tools allowing consumers to make smart, well-reasoned decisions were discussed. In particular, the importance of implementing proper information standards such as the introduction of an Eco-label was highlighted.
The conference concluded that a dialogue involving EU institutions, national and local governments, and all the social partners concerning the promotion of sustainable consumption was needed, but that this dialogue must also be connected to action. Examples of how you can take on an active role by preventing waste and minimising the impact of products through their life-cycle can be found on the websites of Pre-waste and Green Commerce.
Earlier this year, the European Commission launched a consultation on sustainable consumption and production. Contributions can be submitted until 3rd April 2012 on the Commission’s website.