Skip to Main Content

Climate Crisis

This guide provides information, resources, and data on the climate crisis

Ethical Consumerism

Ethical consumerism (also referred to as ethical consumption, ethical purchasing, moral purchasing, ethical sourcing, or ethical shopping) is a type of consumer activism based on the concept of "dollar voting". People practice it by buying ethically made products that support small-scale manufacturers or local artisans and protect animals and the environment, while boycotting products that underpay workers or exploit children as workers, test on animals, or damage the environment.

Sustainable Consumption

Sustainable consumption is often paralleled with sustainable production; consumption refers to use and disposal (or recycling) not just by individuals and households, but also by governments, businesses, and other organizations. Sustainable consumption is closely related to sustainable production and sustainable lifestyles.

Studies have found that systemic change for "decarbonization" of humanity's economic structures or root-cause system changes above politics are required for a substantial impact on global warming. Such changes may result in more sustainable lifestyles, along with associated products, services and expenditures, being structurally supported and becoming sufficiently prevalent and effective in terms of collective greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Nevertheless, ethical consumerism usually only refers to individual choices, and not the consumption behavior and/or import and consumption policies by the decision-making of nation-states. These have however been compared for road vehicles, CO2 emissions (albeit without considering emissions embedded in imports) and meat consumption per capita as well as by overconsumption.

Sustainable Fashion

Sustainable fashion is a term describing products, processes, activities, and people (policymakers, brands, consumers) that aim to achieve a carbon-neutral fashion industry built on equality, social justice, animal welfare, and ecological integrity. Sustainable fashion concerns more than fashion textiles or products, rather addressing the entire process in which clothing is produced, consumed and disposed of. The movement looks to combat the large carbon footprint that the fast fashion industry has created by reducing the environmental impact such as air pollution, water pollution and climate change.

Fast Fashion: Fast fashion is a design, manufacturing, and marketing method focused on rapidly producing high volumes of clothing. Fast fashion garment production leverages trend replication and low-quality materials (like synthetic fabrics) in order to bring inexpensive styles to the end consumer. These cheaply made, trendy pieces have resulted in an industry-wide movement towards overwhelming amounts of consumption. This results in harmful impacts on the environment, garment workers, animals, and, ultimately, consumers’ wallets.

Slow Fashion: Slow fashion offers an alternative, with mindful manufacturing (sometimes including vertically integrated and in-house production), fair labor rights, natural materials, and lasting garments. It’s encouraging to know that there are brands, communities, and individuals out there fighting for the planet and the safety of garment workers.

Conscientious Waste

As populations and resource demands climb, waste production contributes to emissions of carbon dioxide, leaching of hazardous materials into the soil and waterways, and methane emissions. In America alone, over the course of a decade, 500 trillion pounds (230 Gt) of American resources will have been transformed into nonproductive wastes and gases. Thus, a crucial component of sustainable living is being waste conscious. One can do this by reducing waste, reusing commodities, and recycling.


There are a number of ways to reduce waste in sustainable living. One of the easiest is reducing paper waste by cancelling junk mailers and switching bills and statements to paperless.

Another method to reduce waste is to buy in bulk, reducing packaging materials.

Preventing food waste by preserving perishable foods can limit the amount of organic waste sent to landfills producing the powerful greenhouse gas methane.


By reusing materials, one lives more sustainably by not contributing to the addition of waste to landfills. Reusing saves natural resources by decreasing the necessity of raw material extraction. For example, reusable bags can reduce the amount of waste created by grocery shopping eliminating the need to create and ship plastic bags and the need to manage their disposal and recycling or polluting effects.


Recycling, a process that breaks down used items into raw materials to make new materials, is a particularly useful means of contributing to the renewal of goods. Recycling incorporates three primary processes; collection and processing, manufacturing, and purchasing recycled products. An offshoot of recycling, upcycling, strives to convert material into something of similar or greater value in its second life.

What is "Greenwashing"?

"Greenwashing" is a form of advertising or marketing spin in which companies use marketing and PR with a focus on green or sustainability to deceptively persuade the public that an organization's products, aims and policies are environmentally friendly. Companies that intentionally take up greenwashing communication strategies often do so in order to distance themselves from their own environmental lapses or those of their suppliers. An example of greenwashing is when an organization spends significantly more resources on advertising being "green" than on environmentally sound practices.

Greenwashing can range from using brand or product names that evoke the concept of nature or the environment while actually containing harmful chemicals, to multimillion-dollar campaigns that portray highly-polluting energy companies as eco-friendly (eg. oil companies promoting "green energy" while profiting billions in fossil fuels). Greenwashing covers up unsustainable corporate agendas and policies and misleads the public.

Sustainable Companies

To be sustainable, a company’s operations must be able to “to be maintained at a certain rate or level.” They must operate with the genuine intention of leaving the world, communities, the people, and stakeholders it encounters as a result of its existence, better off.

Conventionally, companies have valued profit and the bottom line over all else. Sustainable companies position their impact on community and environment as critical measurements of their success. They employ a triple bottom line in which people, planet, and profit are all considered.