• Samantha Winters

UN Sustainable Development Goals: Sustainable Consumption

Updated: Jul 1

Consumption is a leading cause of our excessive global waste. Manufacturing and shipping products create large amounts of waste, which often migrates to Water. Plastic packaging, clothes, and wasted food are just a few of the ways that waste forms. The goal of sustainable consumption is to decrease our global material footprint, improving the quality of life for all of humanity.

The economy feeds rampant consumerism that results in excess waste of plastic bags and bottles. This excess waste often migrates to our oceans through landfills. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #12 aims to reduce our material waste through the production cycle. By shifting to more sustainable packaging across the globe, the United Nations aims to decrease the percentage of plastic found in oceans and other bodies of Water.

Water inherently deserves respect for her ability to sustain human life and her vitality to the ecosystems that she sustains. By continuously polluting our oceans, we are disrespecting her and all that she does for life on earth. Water is essential to our survival, however, “less than 3 percent of the world’s Water is drinkable”(United Nations, 2021).

The scientific community overwhelmingly agrees that earth currently faces three crises that will end our planet: biodiversity, climate, and pollution (United Nations, 2021). Sustainable consumption is connected to all three, only emphasizing its importance. Eco-friendly production methods seek to reuse materials whenever possible. Currently humanity is polluting Water faster than she is able to purify herself. To protect Water, our society must take action.

To achieve this goal the United Nations has created a ten year plan to make consumption more sustainable. The most crucial step towards this goal would focus on reducing, reusing, and recycling materials in a variety of ways. The most crucial element to making this a reality is competent oversight. To become more sustainable, there must be a continuous overseeing of environmental practices, and consequences put into place for not upholding this standard (Food and Agriculture Organization, 2021).

The Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, within the United Nations would be most likely to enforce these regulations. As of 2018, food and plastic combined equal over 50% of the global waste, and since then this number has only increased (Braich and Riccardi, 2020). With this number continuing to climb, society must take action. Through Sustainable Development Goal #12, the United Nations can shift global manufacturing and production towards more sustainable options.

Sustainability is a key issue that Water& is working towards. By keeping the earth’s Water clean, we are ensuring that more of the global population will have access to clean Water for free. By shifting manufacturing and production towards more sustainable options, we are ensuring a healthier future for all life on earth.


“10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/international-cooperation/10-year-framework-programmes-sustainable-consumption-and-production.

Gasper, Des, et al. “The Framing of Sustainable Consumption and Production in SDG 12.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 28 Jan. 2019, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1758-5899.12592.

Prepared by Gurneet Braich and Vincent Ricciardi, with inputs from Divyanshi Wadhwa. “Managing Plastic and Food Waste for a Sustainable Future.” The Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2020, https://datatopics.worldbank.org/sdgatlas/goal-12-responsible-consumption-and-production/.

“SDG 12. Responsible Consumption and Production : Www.fao.org.” SDG 12. Responsible Consumption and Production | Sustainable Development Goals | Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, https://www.fao.org/sustainable-development-goals/goals/goal-12/en/.

United Nations. “Goal 12 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs.” United Nations, United Nations, 2021, https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal12.

United Nations. “Sustainable Consumption and Production.” United Nations, United Nations, https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-consumption-production/.

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