How Are Consumers Contributing to Saving The Environment?

Despite their doubts about the effectiveness of individual actions in the face of massive global pollution, growing numbers of consumers are making efforts to live more sustainably. Many are fighting food waste, eating in an ethical way, minimising and separating waste and using alternative forms of transport to cut down on the use of fossil fuels. What other ways are there for consumers to live sustainably?

What is the future for electric cars?

In Jordan, the government is currently rolling out solar-powered charging stations for electric vehicles (EV), website Cleantechnica.com reports. Chicago-based AllCell, which is providing much of the hardware for this project, forecast that between 5 and 10% of Jordan’s more than one million cars would be electric within seven years. Europe shows a comparatively poor sales performance of EVs, and in the US demand has even contracted. The German government set an ambitious goal of “one million EVs by 2020”. But despite incentives such as a ten-year exemption from car tax, only 12,000 EVs and 85,600 hybrid cars were registered by 2015.

Worldwide Number of Electric Vehicles in Use: 2012-2015

electric vehicles

Source: Statista 2015

Even potentially “green” consumers find the current low petrol price irresistible, and with the lack of infrastructure and consequently the limited range that EVs can cover without running out of power, this adds up to a disincentive to buy electric cars. Euromonitor International research shows that sales figures of EVs for the first three quarters of 2015 reveal that China is now the largest EV market, ahead of Europe and the USA.

The creative sector’s contribution

Many fashion brands, artists and designers are using their influence to encourage ethical and environmental commitment. Sustainable Fashion Berlin, a private group in which fashion professionals can connect, share and discuss all topics of sustainability, has 628 members on its Facebook account.

Campaigning websites such as Indian Nofoodwaste.in, German findingsustainia.org, or lovefoodhatewaste.com are all over the internet, with Earthstatement.org moving those who care about climate change to commit and “Save the World. Take a Selfie”. Ecopreneurist.com named its Top10 Green Marketing Campaigns, including such diverse names and brands as Jamie Oliver, Timberland and BMW. Elle magazine published a ranking of eco-celebrities, with Leonardo di Caprio topping the list, and InStyle magazine features Gwyneth Paltrow and her campaign for water. Pharrell Williams made eco-waves by endorsing jeans made from recycled plastic bottles, Mark Ruffalo has become a public spokesman against fracking…the list is growing.

Cycling into the future

Copenhagen is often described as the global cycling capital, with 37% of traffic to and from work or school happening by bicycle. It is from this city that some of the best ideas for transport changes emerge. Websites copenhagenize.com and cycling-embassy.dk have blueprints for cities everywhere to integrate cycle traffic into their local transport systems. Architect Jan Gehl is working on a “cycle freeway” for Berlin where cyclists will be able to traverse town sheltered beneath 10km of subway train tracks. Two presenters on the popular Caterpillar programme on Italy’s Rai 2 network believe that the Nobel Peace Prize 2016 should go to the bicycle, and they have started a petition to push for it, describing the humble two-wheeler as an “instrument of peace”.

Greed can be green

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is an organisation founded by a group of major investors aiming  to push companies and brands to share their emissions data and strategies for climate protection with the public. German chief Susan Levermann provides the data to Frankfurt Stock Exchange who lists data provided by CDP on its homepage. In December, CDP and The Climate Group released a report identifying 200 companies, states, regions and cities that have committed to full de-carbonisation. According to company assessment website Vigeo.com, the European Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) retail fund market grew by 8% in 2015, and the number of funds increased by 26%.