A new study shows that the environmental impact of shopping for stuff, from from food and clothing to CDs and electrical appliances - far outweighs any efforts to save water and power in the home. The Australian Conservation Foundation and the University of Sydney note that shopping habits represent such a large part of greenhouse gas emissions that even if every household switched to renewable energy and stopped driving cars tomorrow, total household emissions would fall by less than 20 per cent.
The more you shop, the worse it is; The study, Consuming Australia, reports that on average, every additional dollar of consumption is responsible for 720 grams of greenhouse gas emissions and 28 litres of water. Australian Conservation Foundation's Chuck Berger concludes:
"People can make a difference to their individual contribution to greenhouse pollution by buying less, wasting less and choosing products that last"::Sydney Morning HeraldFood and consumer products, such as clothes, appliances, furniture and electronics often require large amounts of energy, water and materials to produce. "It is better to spend more of our money on services - from sporting event tickets to massages - because services in general demand fewer resources than goods. There is the bonus that services tend to be more labour intensive or, in other words, more jobs are being created per dollar output."
"The households with the biggest environment impact are high income earning, inner city, small or single-person households," said Chris Dey at the University of Sydney. "While inner city households have better access to public transport and are less car dependent, with their higher incomes, they typically buy more things and travel by air more often. But, having a high income doesn't have to have a high impact on the environment: all of us must consume smarter and more sustainably. Expenditure on energy efficient appliances and cars, on well-designed and insulated houses, and on services rather than goods, can significantly reduce your eco-footprint."
::Consumption Atlas read PDF of report here