Overconsumption by consumers contributes to environmental destruction by not carefully considering a products starting point, and the environmental aftermath of manufacturing and disposal. As consumption increases, the resource base has to expand to meet growth and related demands. At present, the rate of consumption is increasing at an alarming rate. Because of this huge consumer demand, the planet itself has been out of balance for many years. The production, processing, and consumption of commodities requires the extraction and use of natural resources such as wood, ore, fossil fuels, and water; it also requires the creation of factories and factory complexes whose operation creates toxic byproducts, while the use of commodities, such as automobiles, creates waste. In summary, consuming anything today always generates environmental degradation and pollutants. Yet, of the three factors environmentalists often point to as being responsible for environmental pollution -- population, technology, and consumption -- consumption seems to get the least attention.
One reason, no doubt, is that it may be the most difficult to change. Our consumption patterns are so much a part of our lives (Richard Robbins 209-210). However, it is inevitable that pollution and environmental degradation will only become more severe until the root cause, overconsumption, is dealt with.
The issue of pollution and the solutions on how to change are controversial. Most everyone has heard of ways to help, using only recycled bags at the grocery store, getting a car that has fewer emissions and eating only organic foods. Most everyone has a viable theory; it's just how one goes about proving the effectiveness of that theory. The novel No Impact Man shows the journey of history writer Colin Beavan trying to lead a "no impact life." Beavan states that the average American goes through about 1700 pounds of trash a year (Beavan...