Production and consumption habits relating to material resources have been considered by environmentalists as determinants of the survival of the ecosystem and human livelihood. Some of the production and consumption habits are a threat to the ecosystem, while others promote its well-being and sustainability. The paper explores illustrations of the consumption and production of habits that relate to the material resources and the efforts that must be made for the sustainability of the global population.
There are various production habits in the production of material resources. For the purposes of illustration, the habits can be broadly categorized as mass and lean production habits. The mass production habits considerably dominate in the modern societies. They are associated with technological and industrial production that targets not only the local consumers, but also the regional and the global consumer markets. Slattery (2008) cited that technological innovation has led to the realization of surplus material production. The material resources that are related to mass production habits include energy, capital and the raw material resources. For example, mass production habits of energy have led to exploitation of coal and use of fuels to drive the power machines in the production industries. The resources are thus extensively exploited to meet the immediate global demand of the end products. The end products are also harmful to the ecosystem.
The second production habit, lean production, is the opposite of mass production. This habit is associated with utilization of material resources to produce other materials that meet only the demands of the immediate consumer market. In this pattern, a lot of raw material resources are utilized for the production of just small portion of resources for human consumption. The lean production habit leads to the production of goods that may not meet demands of the consuming population or lead to lots of resources being spent in the input with much less output realized.
Consumption habits are basically the two extremes; over-consumption or mass consumption that is associated with wasteful utilization of resources. For example, the developing countries consume more than what can be sustainably produced. As a result, resources are depleted and the ecosystem does not survive (Slattery, 2008). For example, mass consumption habits have led to exploitation of minerals, burning of coal, deforestation to create space for agriculture and generation of wood energy. Lean consumption habits, on the other hand, involve access to lots of resources, which are under-utilized. For example, an individual or a country could be having huge tracts of land yet there is food insecurity because of under utilization of the resource. On the other hand, there are instances, when there are mass production habits followed by lean consumption. This also leads to unsustainable utilization of resources.
Considerations for Sustainable Production and Consumption for Global Population
Sustainable production refers to the initiatives that lead to creation of end resources and services through process that are devoid of environmental pollution. The energy and the resources are utilized in an efficient, economical and sustainable way not only to the environment, but also to the workers involved in the production process (Nash, 2009). The safety and health of the workers and consumers in the production process is thus guarded in this process. Sustainable consumption, on the other hand, involves consideration of the extent to which the products consumed meet the needs of the consumers and contributes to improvement of the quality of life. This ensures that the burden on the earth’s carrying capacity is reduced considerably.
In order to sustain the global population, there is the need to assess the patterns of mass/industrial production and develop policies that will promote cleaner production. Slattery, (2008) argued that this will eliminate challenges associated with industrial pollution that lead to climate change thus limiting sustainable food production, for example. This can be realized through the development of cleaner production technologies, especially for the developing economies and those in transition. It also enhances realization of safe, healthy, and economically efficient production that can sustain the global population.
Sustaining the global population requires production and consumption habits that are in themselves sustainable. This can be realized by consideration of production and consumption patterns that enhance improvement of environmental conservation (Nash, 2009). For example, the agricultural production habits must consider and mitigate the dangers associated with application of insecticides, aerosols and ammonium fertilizers on the ecosystem. Nash further contends that in terms of consumption, sustainability can be realized through promotion of the use of goods and services, which do not only contribute to better life for the present generation, but also the future ones (Nash, 2009). There is thus need to pass policies and laws that will contribute to the minimal use of natural resources, cautious use of toxic materials and elimination of emissions of waste and other pollutants into the environment.
The patterns of consumption and production need to be reviewed in order to sustain the growing global population. For example, more efficient and non-polluting or less polluting goods and services can be emphasized at the expense of the environmentally hazardous production and consumption habits. Further, mass consumption habits should be altered (Slattery, 2008). For example, the aggregate quantity of goods and services that are currently consumed by the world population should be reduced. This should be followed with more strategic economic, technological and environmental policies.
Sustainable production and consumption habits are the key to the survival of the ecosystem. In order to realize this, technological innovation and its consequent application in the production and consumption activities must consider the environmental stewardship as the key to sustainable ecosystem. This can be realized through improved analysis of the costs and benefits associated with any production or consumption habit. Public awareness, especially in terms of relationship between human production and consumption activities and the environment, needs to be promoted. This will ensure that energy use is made more efficient for the realization of cleaner technologies.