The ongoing growth of the world’s population and the increasingly consumptive lifestyles of the wealthy pack a punch and together drive many of the changes we see on Earth today.
During the past fifty years, the global population more than doubled to 7.3 billion people. Some think we’ll keep growing and peak near nine or ten billion later this century. As the planet’s population spikes, so does our collective environmental impact as consumers. We’ve also seen incredible new opportunities to change the ways we live our lives.
As our global population has doubled during the past five decades, the world’s economy has grown eight-fold. That means we have twice as many people conducting eight times more economic activity than we’ve ever experienced.
As we rethink our food, water, and energy systems, we can embrace new ways of shifting our lifestyles. We can make a big difference by addressing the underlying causes of our environmental challenges, including world population growth and our consumer “throw-away” culture.
Nearly everything we buy impacts the environment, including the materials and energy it takes to make and operate each purchase. Ditch “single-use” and look for more sustainably sourced products and energy-efficient devices.
Reuse, repair, or donate gently used items whenever possible. If you need to throw something away, check with your city or town to learn about the best way to recycle or dispose of unwanted items.
More people on the planet increases our environmental impact. While it can be sensitive to discuss, in wealthy countries, we might reflect on our choices about family size. In growing countries, supporting access to education and young women’s empowerment can lead to more effective family planning.