Overconsumption

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Definition of overconsumption: The action or fact of consuming something in excess.(Oxford dictionary)

Overconsumption is when resource use is more than the sustainable capacities of an ecosystem. A prolonged time of overconsumption leads to environmental destruction and the loss of the resource. Overconsumption is even more problematic because of overpopulation: the more people there are, the greater consumption of raw materials they need to live. Currently, the developed nations of the world consume resources 32 times more than those of the developing world. But the developing world consumption is growing faster since Earth’s population reached 7.4 billion people. The carrying capacity of the earth is not taking per capita consumption into account, by which developing nations are evaluated through consuming more than their land can support.

One of the effects of overconsumption is a reduction in the planet’s carrying capacity. Excessive long term unsustainable consumption will lead to resource reduction, environmental degradation, and lower ecological health.

The modern lifestyle of overconsumption leads to factors like obesity. In the long run, overconsumption can create conflicts like low resources availability and in the worse case a planetary catastrophe. Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute has said: “It would take 1.5 Earths to sustain our present level of consumption. Environmentally, the world is in an overshoot mode.”

The Worldwatch Institute said China and India, with their booming economies, along with the United States, are the three planetary forces that are shaping the global biosphere. The State of the World 2006 report said the two countries’ high economic growth exposed the reality of severe pollution. The report states that : The world’s ecological capacity is simply insufficient to satisfy the ambitions of China, India, Japan, Europe and the United States as well as the aspirations of the rest of the world in a sustainable way.

The idea of overconsumption is linked to the idea of ecological footprint: resource accounting framework for measuring human demand on the biosphere (oxford dictionary).

The fastest way to solve overconsumption is to slow down consumption of resources (material & energy) Less consumption means less traditional business. Countries must look to another consumption framework in a cradle to cradle way.

More and more people are getting involved in this directly or indirectly with protest movements and lifestyle choices. Some examples of this are: anti-consumerism, freeganism, green economics, ecological economics,frugality, downshifting, simple living, minimalism, vegan diet, and thrifting.

Photograph: Pablo Lopez Luz

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