There’s no reason to be ashamed of consumption in the modern world. Sure if we all survived off the land, lived in tents and walked everywhere our consumption would drop dramatically but it’s obviously an impractical Utopian ideal. It’s the real world we live in and consumption is part of that world, obviously we should minimize whenever possible but there are also other options.
Our consumption can actually be used to stimulate and encourage investment in ‘green energies’. For example you can stimulate investment in wind, solar and tidal energy simply by paying your electricity provider to supply greener electricity. In Germany for instance they guarantee higher payments for companies who generate renewable energy. By ensuring that companies receive a dividend for greener electricity then building wind turbines and and solar panels become more attractive. This has massively increased capacity in both these areas, although it should be noted that the cost to German economy has been significant.
The UK developed a policy called The Renewable’s Obligation. This required that all electricity companies had to purchase a certain proportion of their electricity from renewable generators. However this meant that the companies created ‘green tariffs’ without purchasing extra green capacity though, thus minimizing the benefits to capacity.
Although it still makes a difference, the power of the consumer can force greener industries. Take a very simple example, in an everyday consumer product – the humble lawnmower. For years the growth in this area has been in electric and petrol mowers because of ease of use, however check on this site now and you’ll find lots of human powered mowers. Slowly though it has been established that obviously the manual, people powered lawnmower is by far the most environmentally friendly option. The sector has seen much more growth in the cheap and green manual mower – a very visible sign of greener products becoming more popular.
You can see it online as well, in fact there are many important environmental awareness groups who have been promoting these simple lifestyle changes. Of course some of these sites don’t get nearly enough exposure, probably as they are not as marketed as strongly and don’t make the most of SEO guidance in designing their sites.
This consumer power can be enacted in virtually any sector. If we direct our consumption in more environmentally friendly options then industry will respond after all they only react to market forces. So don’t feel guilty and empower your self to making the world consume but in a much more greener way! We can see it in the media, when once our screens were filled with programs and shows about consumption, much is now about saving money and reuse – have a look at some of the stuff on Irish TV here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-6JjuQGHJw, a country badly affected by huge austerity measures.