goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
“We need to promote development that does not
destroy our environment."
Environmental Activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
With a human population surpassing 7 billion and the global consumption of Earth’s finite resources reaching an all-time high, the transition to sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns is critical. SCP may be defined as
the use of services and related products, which respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life while minimizing the use of natural resources and toxic materials as well as the emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle of the service or product so as not to jeopardize the needs of further generations. (Oslo Symposium, 1994)
Coordinated efforts among nations to lessen the negative impacts resulting from the production of goods and services, such as resource depletion, energy use, and pollution, are necessary for achieving global sustainable development (UNEP, 2015). To meet this critical need, SDG 12 Ensure Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns outlines a 10-year framework for making essential changes in how societies produce and consume goods and services (UN-DESA, n.d.).
United Nations Environment Programme. (UNEP). (2015). Sustainable consumption and production: A handbook for policymakers. Retrieved from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (UN-DESA). (n.d.) Sustainable consumption and production. Retrieved from https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics/sustainableconsumptionandproduction
Birke Baehr is an international speaker on the dangers of our industrialized food system and an advocate for sustainable food and agriculture.
Here are just a few example resources you could use to teach and learn more about Birke:
Birke on the Farm
TEACHING GLOBAL GOAL 12: RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION
"I think if people understand and are educated about what's wrong they would do better.
You know better, you do better."
― Birke Baehr
The materials economy is a complex system of interactions between humans and the environment as we extract raw materials from the earth, manufacture, ship, sell, and consume goods, and eventually dispose of them. The macroconcept system may be taught across grade levels and content areas as children learn about interactions between elements and their effects, or outputs. Systems are complex, and by studying systems, children learn that cause and effect relationships are not always linear or predictable. Students also learn that systems adapt or change over time, and that their choices impact what happens to a system. In the Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard argues that this linear system is in “crisis” because “we live on a finite planet and you cannot run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely.” By way of example, the United States consumes more on average than other nations, and if all humans consumed at U.S. rates, we would need 3 to 5 planets.
The materials economy contributes to a multitude of issues, including food and water security. Food is an appropriate topic to teach these critical thinking skills as the importance of food is universal and relatable to daily life. For example, agricultural practices, including water irrigation, account for 70% of freshwater usage. With the growing world population, food demand will rise, and with it, fresh water consumption. It is estimated that 30% of food produced is wasted worldwide (with approximately 40% wasted in the United States). By teaching about food system issues, teachers can impart upon children that our daily food choices greatly impact global sustainable development.
In sum, concepts related to SDG 12 can be readily taught through the marketplace. Students may explore the origins of foods and other goods (such as toys, clothing, and technology), what factors affect costs, who is involved in the materials economy, and the “true” cost of the goods we buy on humans, non-human animals, and the environment, as explained in this powerful TEDx talk, "The World Becomes What You Teach" by co-founder and president of the Institute for Humane Education, Zoe Weil. At the end of an inquiry, teachers may pose this question: “Which consumer choices do the most good and the least harm? Which are most sustainable?”
To support teachers’ design and implementation of interdisciplinary, solution-focused curriculum for students, the table below outlines sample children’s literature, stand-alone lesson and unit plans, and media resources, including hyperlinks to each resource for your access. The table is searchable by keyword with each resource aligned with the 6 global dimensions: dimensions of change; globalization and interdependence; identity and cultural diversity; peace building and conflict resolution; social justice and human rights; and sustainable futures.
Children's Literature resources
Food Wastage Footprint
In this animation created by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, you will learn about facts and statistics behind food waste and the effects food waste has on the environment and world around us.
The Big Waste: Why Do We Throw Away So Much Food?
Filmmaker Karim Chrobog looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs.
The clothes on your back: Factory kids
In the clothing factories of Bangladesh, the workforce is uncommonly - perhaps unethically - young. Rick Westhead reports.
Loop Scoops: PBS Playlist
LOOP SCOOPS are short, funny videos to get YOU thinking about the stuff in your life and what this stuff can do to the environment. Each SCOOP tells the story of something you use or see everyday — a juice box, a magazine, an electronic gadget, a glass of juice, a pile of garbage. We hope the videos will get you thinking in new ways and asking new questions, like: What is this made of? Where did it come from? Who made it? What happens when I throw it away?
How To End The Food Waste Fiasco | Rob Greenfield
Foresight about the innovations that will shape our future, and the skills we and our children will need to be a part of it. Providing lessons from tomorrow, today.
How It's Made: Food Playlist
Here you will find several episodes from the show How It's Made from the Discovery Channel.
Stop wasting food: Selina Juul
Consumers are the key players in reducing food waste. Food has become a political tool for changing the world. The consumers have become the new politicians -- and consumer movements are gaining the power to create global change.
Making Not Wasting: A Way of Life
Hunger is still one of the most urgent development challenges, yet the world is producing more than enough food. Recovering just half of what is lost or wasted could feed the world alone. The FAO-led Save Food initiative is partnering with international organizations, the private sector and civil society to enable food systems to reduce food loss and waste in both the developing and the industrialized world.
Planet Money Makes A T-Shirt (Part I)
In part 1 of a five part series, NPR looks to see how a simple T-shirt is made? To find out, they decided to make one -- and track every step of production. It all started in Mississippi. Or, if you go back far enough, in a seed lab.
Carbon footprint: Life Cycle of Mobile Phone
This animated infographic depicts all stages of the life cycle of a cell phone and its impacts on the environment along the way.