SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production
SDG 12 aims to promote resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure and jobs that provide access to basic services, decent work and a better quality of life for everyone. When we consume and produce sustainably, we are trying to do more with less. It involves consumers, producers, policy-makers, researchers and media making informed choices along the course of the supply chain. Reducing our waste, establishing environmental protection policies, supporting the development of sustainable businesses and educating the public are all ways we can help improve our consumption and production. At our current rate of consumption, we will need the resources of two Earths by 2030 to provide for our growing population. Overconsumption happens when our use of resources outpaces the sustainable capacity of our ecosystems. Growth in population, urbanization and wealth over the next decades will increase waste and pollution volumes. Electronic waste management is also a growing problem, locally and internationally, with the rise of consumer electronics and computers. Where does waste go?
You might also be able to align your teaching to this SDG if you want your students to be able to:
- Describe how lifestyle choices influence social, economic and environmental development.
- Evaluate the roles, rights, and duties of different actors in production and consumption.
- Design sustainable strategies and practices regarding consumption and production such as lifecycle assessments.
You might consider having your students reflect, share, act in some of these ways:
- Learn about how stuff gets from raw materials to us in this series called the Story of Stuff.
- Bring simulation activities into the classroom to help students understand the processes of production. One example (more suitable for junior years) is the Illuminate: Climate change simulation game, an educational simulation game exploring greenhouse gas emissions, their impact, and climate risk.
- This consumption tracker is designed to calculate the mileage of everything we wear. The template is set to Winnipeg, but the location could be adjusted to anywhere accordingly.
- Embed low-consumption habits such as printing fewer papers, ask students for double-sided work, or find ways to reduce travel for students in your course. Be overt and explain to students why you chose these decisions.
Some curricular connections and questions for students might be:
Media – What is the role of the media in perpetuating overconsumption? How can we become more aware of, or change, this?
Environment – How can we influence our culture to value environmental sustainability?
Poverty, wealth, and power – How does wealth and power effect relationships between producers and consumers?
Indigenous Peoples- What is being done to support remote Indigenous communities to combat inflated prices of consumer goods?
Peace and conflict – How does consumption of certain goods support ongoing conflict? (e.g.: Mining and resource extraction in the Democratic Republic of Congo)
Oppression and genocide – How has consumption influenced oppression and marginalization?
Gender politics – How is consumption a gendered issue? How are products marketed to people of different genders or identities?
Social justice and human rights – How are consumption patterns and social justice connected?
Health and biotechnology – What is overconsumption doing to our health?