In my previous post I wrote that it is important that we get sustainability and secular economy as standard subjects in vocational, bachelor and master’s degrees. This is so important that we need to start teaching children at kindergarten age about what a sustainable future consists of. Good habits develop from an early age. There is a clear correlation between consumption and the over-consumption of raw materials in the world. There are several parameters that link environmental responsibility to economic outcomes. Today’s consumer behaviour must be radically changed if we are to manage to reduce today’s over-consumption of raw materials. Therefore, it must be included in education from kindergarten, to primary school, to higher education, to colleges and universities on sustainable lifestyle and consumption. It does not help to speak big words about the importance of sustainability and the secular economy if we do not change consumer behaviour.
The transition towards a circular economy is only achievable if there is a fundamental change in consumer behaviours. The circular economy demands a collective effort of business, governments, and finally the consumers. Consumer’ behaviour is critical in determining the long-term effects of different initiatives for sustainable development. If we look at the phases in a product’s life cycle, consumers are directly involved in the purchase, use and disposal. Throughout the mentioned stages, the consumers attitudes towards the products are key for the shift towards a more sustainable mode of consumption. The consumers choices determine the sustainability of the item. During the purchase phase, they can decide to invest in durable products. During the use phase, they can opt to repair broken products instead of throwing them away and buying new ones. Finally, when the product is obsolete, they can select the proper means for its disposal. Therefore, it is important is that we start teaching children from kindergarten age about what a sustainable future consists of. Good habits develop from an early age. It does not help just to buy second hand; we need to reduce our consumption in general. If there are holes in the pants, we must patch it, there are holes in the socks we must stop the socks that one did in earlier times. If the sole or heel loosens at the shoes, let us go to get the shoe repaired rather than buying something new. If the zipper has been damaged in the jacket or pants, let us replace the zipper.
Pro-environmental behaviour is essential for society to integrate a circular framework. Without changing consumers’ behaviour, one cannot achieve fast enough impact of sustainable initiatives and this is one of the keys to understand the failures of environmental initiatives and policies today.