The future of cities - urban development for sustainable transformation
Insight by Nora Holz
Questioning consumption habits and protecting the environment: adelphi is working on strategies to promote sustainable lifestyles and behavioural change, with the motto "Different, and better".
It is not yet December, and supermarkets are already stocked with Christmas items and playing those tunes we know all too well. Companies are also preparing for the infamous Black Friday: the promotional day encourages excessive pre-Christmas consumption with discount campaigns. But it comes at a high price. The environment and climate suffer especially from the shopping frenzy. Increased online shopping generates huge amounts of waste. New smartphones and other electronic goods contain many raw materials that are in limited supply. Extraction processes are highly energy-intensive and are often fueled by hydrocarbons. The impacts are especially detrimental if products are simply bought just because they are so cheap and replace items that actually still work.
Fortunately, awareness of sustainable consumption is growing and there are already counter-movements such as Green Friday. The campaign on the same day as Black Friday is aimed at conscious consumption and encourages us to question our purchasing habits: do items really have to be brand new or so second-hand items suffice? Could things we no longer need be useful to others? Do I (or the recipient) really need the product? This has less to do with sacrifice, and more to do with clever behaviour that protects the environment, climate and wallet.
And if a purchase really is necessary, then labels can help consumers find products and services that have a lower impact on the environment. But be careful! Many brands advertise their products as green or environmentally friendly, even though these claims are not true. However, credible and reliable eco-labels do exist. Products that carry the EU Ecolabel or the Blue Angel, for example, meet strict criteria regarding their impact on the environment, from raw material extraction to disposal or recycling. adelphi acts as the EU Ecolabel helpdesk and ensures that the label becomes better known and increases its market presence. adelphi has developed strict criteria for the Blue Angel, for example for potting soil, mattresses, and events.
But consumers’ influence on climate and the environment goes beyond retail shopping. How do we live and eat? How do we get around and how do we organise our leisure time? In the 1.5-degree lifestyles project, adelphi is working to mainstream climate-friendly lifestyles compatible with the targets of the Paris Agreement. We look at obstacles on a personal and structural level and work with citizens to develop solutions to overcome them.
A sustainable lifestyle is possible – sometimes even easier than we think! There are many ways to bring joy to others and to the environment, especially during the Christmas season. A delicious meal, something homemade, a voucher for time together, a concert with friends – that’s enjoyment and quality of life.