Consuming goods and services can take different forms. If we all buy things at high volumes, we have mass consumption. Mass consumption per se need not be bad but mass consumption of socially and environmentally unsustainable products will certainly have a negative impact.

If we buy primarily cheap goods we have budget consumption. Naturally, cheap goods are made using the cheapest production methods possible. Unsurprisingly, many cheap goods are being produced in countries that do not have high social and ecological standards. But some cheap goods are made in EU as well. For example, quite a few food products are cheap. While citizens with low consumption ability can hardly be blamed for preferring low-price goods and foods, most of us are not in that situation and should review our purchasing behaviour. Never forget that, with few exceptions, cheap goods are made using incredibly cheap mass production methods. This may even include exploitation of nature and suppliers.

In contrast, high-price consumption may have positive effects, if for example high prices translate into high wages for employees, which will enable them to contribute to stabilising the regional economic flow. The country of origin label (Cool) attached to many goods is helpful in determining the nature of production methods. Gathering information on production standards in different countries is not that difficult and you will soon discover the differences between the EU and other regions in the world. But high-price consumption can also have negative effects. This will always be the case with goods that are sold at a high price in Europe, while they are being produced in low-wage countries with poor eco-social standards.

Wasteful consumption is a very common form of consumption. It means that we develop a habit of buying things we don’t actually need and will use only a few times, if at all. This covers all kinds of goods: electronics, household items, cosmetics, water, electricity, gas or food. Wasteful consumption is the worst form of consumerism that is based on convenience and greed. It has an extremely negative impact on the environment, as it leads to environmental degradation and a massive exploitation of natural resources, which will no longer be available for future generations.

Sustainable consumption is the best form of consumerism. This concept seeks to limit the number or amount of goods we consume, while at the same time ensuring that they are made using sustainable production methods. This will include living wages, environment-friendly production methods and moderate use of natural resources. Sustainable consumption is best for us, as it helps to sustain our environment and wealth.