Most are aware of the alarming statistics: the richest 20% of the world's population account for 85% of global consumption, and so on. What it comes down to is that we in the developed world are consuming too much. This ranges from energy, to cars, to small things like meat and paper. Do you know how destructive your lifestyle is? Try Global Footprint Network's online calculator to work out how much land area it takes to support your way of life.
The amount of waste Australia throws away is disproportionate to our population, and growing more so. Australia is by no means exempt. In 2013, a study found that Australians annually throw away $10.5 billion worth of goods and services they have barely used, and this number is likely to have grown exponentially since then. The biggest component of this waste was discarded food, including unfinished drinks and takeaway food. Fresh produce and leftovers accounted for $5.3 billion worth of wasted meals.
So much of what the developed world buys ends up in the bin. Overconsumption is a problem on many levels. We are not just running out of natural resources – our buying and eating patterns are also a major contributor to climate change and the developed world's obesity problem. The individual carbon footprint per capita in Australia is three times the global average, and the value of the food we waste is more than 10 times the amount we donate in overseas aid.
While producers must play their part, it is demand from consumers that will force the world to change. Richard Fine founded BioPak – plant-based packaging – to revolutionise the packaging production industry. However, as BioPak has grown, Fine has realised that the problem does not necessarily lie with the products and materials. "It has more to do with consumers understanding the environmental impact of their choices," he says. "I feel it is our mission to demystify and expose the environmental impact of single use disposable packaging."
Choose to live in a more sustainable fashion, and the world will follow. Next time you head to the shops or to a restaurant, take a moment to reflect on what you really need, not just what the quickest and easiest option is. If you are a restaurant or café owner, think about how you can use your business to support sustainability and opt for more eco-friendly packaging options instead of cheap, traditional plastics. We can start changing the statistics by taking a small step towards a more sustainable way of living. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would change … We need not wait to see what others do." Try Global Footprint Network's online calculator to work out how much land area it takes to support your lifestyle. You might be alarmed by the results, but we can work together to cut down our consumption.
Planet Friendly Packaging acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we work. Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by COVID-19. Stay safe.