Our lifestyle is influenced by where and how we live, which modes of transportation we use, what we eat, buy or dispose and how we spend our leisure and work time. All these choices shape our lifestyle and at the same time determine the impact our way of life has on the environment of our planet. Adjusting this lifestyle to become more sustainable is something everybody can do individually – and immediately. Today, many ideas and solutions already exist to reduce one's environmental footprint, but they have to be used on a daily bases: Going to work by bicycle or public transport instead of using the car, buying locally grown food to reduce the impact of transportation, preferring seasonal food and preferring products with eco-labels and those with less packaging are only few examples.
Promoting sustainable lifestyles means raising awareness on our consumption patterns. Ultimately this should lead to a transformation of our preferences, and to a more efficient use of the available resources. To ensure that the needs of future generations will be met, we need to stop overexploiting the planet. At the same time sustainable lifestyles should not compromise the standard of living but, instead, allow everybody on the planet to live comfortably.
To understand environmental impact of a product, its entire lifecycle needs to be analysed and understood. We can then find technical solutions, optimize production and resource use and communicate more environmentally friendly alternatives. This is particularly important for developing countries to develop economically by 'leap frogging' unsustainable developing stages that rich economies currently tackle.
UNEP Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch (SCP) works on a range of topics with partners from public and private sector, including national governments, research institutes, industries and businesses, with the overall aim to mainstream sustainable production methods and consumption patterns. Another joint UNEP and UNESCO activity is the YouthXchange initiative. This collaboration reaches out to teenagers and young adults from 15 to 25 years from all over the world. It provides them with clear, reliable and compelling information on sustainable lifestyles and real life examples. YouthXchange encourage young adults to reflect on their consumption patterns and take action for more responsible and ecological sound consumption.