Consumption and enterprises

We are asking too much of our planet: present-day economic practices and consumption patterns – especially in the industrialised countries – are pushing the Earth to its limits and beyond. The planet’s ecological limits are already being significantly exceeded in four areas – biological diversity, climate change, the nitrogen cycle and land use. In Germany, the per-capita environmental impacts and resource use associated with our consumption are so high that they could never be extended on that scale to the rest of the world.

Sustainable consumption – reconsidering our lifestyle

There are many ways of making our consumption more sustainable. For example, we can eat more organic or vegan foods, or use car-sharing schemes instead of having our own vehicle. But most people in Germany still have a resource-intensive lifestyle: living space per person has increased significantly over the decades, as has the average performance of people’s cars and the number of journeys made by air. Household electricity consumption has barely fallen and in 2011 meat consumption in Germany was twice the worldwide average. To counteract this excessive consumption, there is an urgent need for consumers to reconsider their lifestyles and adopt more sustainable habits.

Sustainable production patterns – companies must take responsibility

In the business world the picture is similar: some companies have made sustainability a guiding principle and attach great importance to environmental and social standards in their business activities and in product development. In global value chains, though, there is still a major need for action: we must reduce the high level of resource use and the associated burdens on people and the environment in the regions in which raw materials are mined and improve the poor working conditions in producing countries.

Sustainable behaviour – information, tips and advice

For many years the Oeko-Institut has been helping consumers and companies to act more sustainably by providing concrete information and suggestions for action, advising on all aspects of sustainability management and supporting product development and technological advances. Its researchers also draft and support strategies for improving the political framework for more sustainable consumption and economic activity.