What is consumer responsibility?
Consumer responsibility is the responsibility to realize the environmental costs and consequences of our consumption patterns and lifestyles. By recognizing our individual and collective social responsibility, natural resources can be preserved and conserved for present and future generations.
How does consumer responsibility fit in with zero waste?
Consumer responsibility is an understanding that zero waste is not just about recycling and composting. Everything we consume requires resources to produce. Consumption begins and waste is created at the point of production, not the point of purchase.
For every pound of goods produced, 71 pounds of waste is created during manufacturing. This waste is attributed to mining for resources, refining raw materials, manufacturing materials into a specific good, and the transportation involved with bringing the raw materials to production facilities and then the final product to the market.
Zero waste is first about preventing waste – to reduce and reuse as much as possible before buying new – then about recycling and composting.
How can I become a more responsible consumer?
We are faced with choices to consume every day, even if we are not at a checkout counter. Free things, like flyers on the street, signing up for informational brochures, or accepting junk mail all come at a cost. At the store or on the street, as a responsible consumer about to make a purchase or accept a flyer, you can ask yourself, "Do I really need this?"
Tips to live Zero Waste
Re-purpose to reduce waste.
- Be creative with gift wrapping. Try using old calendars, catalogs, maps, and newspapers.
- Don't have compostable bags to collect food scraps? Use an old paper bag, newspaper, or empty paper milk cartons.
- Save used, empty food jars to store small household items or other food products, instead of buying special containers.
Bring your own!
- Bring re-usable bags when shopping. San Francisco passed the Extended Bag Reduction Ban requiring a charge for each checkout bag provided.
- Eliminate one-time use serving ware. Choose to use your own durable utensils, even if you have disposables are available or taking meals to-go.
- Didn't bring your travel mug to work and need some coffee? Grab a mug from the office kitchen.
- Practice bringing your own Tupperware and bag to restaurants to pack leftovers.
- Carry a handkerchief instead of using napkins and tissues.
- Choose items that are made with recycled content.
- Purchase services and activities for gifts instead of material goods.
- Buy the right amount of food to prevent waste.
- Buy local products to reduce transportation costs.
- Avoid buying plastic wrap, plastic sandwich bag, and plastic packaging. Purchase products in reusable or refillable packaging to prevent one-time use and disposal, and use reusable containers, like steel tiffin containers, glass jars, or Tupperware.
Additional Information for Consumer Responsibility
San Francisco is habitat for 800,000 people – meeting needs for space to work, play, and learn; for food, water, and air; for community with local flora and fauna. SF Environment provides support for urban agriculture and forestry and green buildings, helping residents and businesses harness environmental opportunities.