The environmental and social cost of consumption

Introduction

The EU 2006 Strategy of Sustainable Development identifies the production and consumption between the strategic priorities.

The current situation created by the consumerist model of development must be considered both a warning and an opportunity: it’s time to change.

We can and we must begin to change the behaviour of the people and the consumers’ culture by promoting a better and more responsible consumer education.

For these reasons the regions Toscana, Umbria, Marche, Abruzzo, Puglia and Lombardia support the objectives of sustainable consumption in the 4th Program financed by the Ministry and put into effect coordinated interventions made on the basis of these lines of action "The environmental and social cost of consumption".

Objectives

The project has two main objectives related to each other:

  1. starting a virtuous process that involves production, distribution and consumers to expand sustainable production and consumption (PCS);
  2. making affordable for the families local, sustainable and quality products.

The specific objectives of the project are:

  1. leading the consumers to an increased demand for sustainable products, through education actions to a sustainable consumption aimed at all citizens, particularly in the schools and in the work sites, to make people aware of the importance of energy conservation in general and water in particular, to avoid wastage and misuse;
  2. promoting the research closely related to the evaluation of economic, environmental and social components of sustainable production and consumption, to be coordinated with other studies and analysis already in place
  3. promoting, correlating and propagating the “best practices” for the reduction of waste through the reduction of the use of packaging; for the diffusion of products on tap, reusable baby diapers, tap water, selective waste collection and home composting;
  4. increasing the market for products with zero kilometers and respectful of the environment, through the diffusion of the so-called farmer’s market and the promotion of raw milk on tap;
  5. promoting renewable energy and energy saving.

Lines of action

The lines of action, shared by the participating regions, identify the types of action that address issues cutting across the regional policies such as environment, agriculture and education.

They become an instrument for implementing the objectives of the Charter of NEPIM, adopted in Barcelona on 8th May 2008, and represent the contribution of Italian regions to the objectives of the European association NEPIM for the promotion of sustainable consumption.

It will therefore be important to identify the "best practices" in European territories. These realities of excellence will be the subjects of an exchange of experiences, even to provide educational workshops for schools.
The partners will undertake a targeted education for the whole citizenship and in particular for young people, which fosters understanding through concrete examples:

  • the importance of water as a common good of humanity;
  • the role and the value of renewable energy sources and of energy conservation;
  • the importance of a rational use of resources and of the waste management.

For example, it is important to understand the extent of the social cost and the environmental impact of consumption of public drinking water (bills, saving for the environment etc..) or of mineral water (waste, etc..). In this sense it’s important to define the savings for the citizen and the environmental benefits through adequate and proper information and through training in sustainable consumption.

Types of intervention

  1. Information and training in sustainable consumption
  2. Dissemination of products on tap
  3. Dissemination of tap water
  4. Dissemination of farmers markets and milk on tap
  5. Dissemination of selective waste collection and home composting;
  6. Evaluation of the economic, environmental and social effects of sustainable production and consumption in the areas identified
  7. Promotion of renewable energy sources and energy conservation

Course of action

The interventions should provide:

  • the sharing of experiences during the course of actions;
  • the possibility of a support between regions aimed at a transfer of know-how
  • the achievement of one or more events at an interregional, national or European level to be shared with the network NEPIM

The partners meet regularly and use communication tools enabled ad hoc (even within their websites) to keep a constant update on the progress.