Norms of Consumption

Norms of Consumption

Our current habits of consumption are from times when humans thought the natural resources were limitless, with our actions having no impact on the environment. As this is not the case, changing our habits to be more environmentally friendly is simply a matter of course and inevitable. 

 Better choices for more sustainable lifestyle

In the Paris Climate Agreement, it was agreed that limiting global warming to 1.5°C is crucial. The actions made until now won’t be enough to stop the warming to 2°C. In the next 100 years, life on Earth will change for better or worse; either because of the climate crisis or because of the changes we make to our lifestyles in order to stop global warming. (1) 

In Finland, the average per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from consumption expenditure were 8.36 tonnes CO2e in 2017 (2). In Germany, the corresponding quantity per capita is 11.61 tonnes CO2e in 2017 (3).

Consumption in Finland in 2016 (4)
  • 30% mobility
  • 29% housing
  • 22% consumption of goods & services 
  • 19% food
Consumption in Germany in 2017 (3)
  • 39% consumption of goods & services 
  • 18.8% mobility 
  • 15% food
  • 14.1% heating
  • 6.5% energy use 
  • 6.3% public emissions 
60-70% of the global GHG emissions are related to household consumption (1). The rest is from government consumption and industry (5). Around 10% of the carbon footprint of a Finn comes from the items we have in our homes like furniture, decorations, clothing, and household appliances. (1)
Better choices for more sustainable lifestyle

The level of consumption should be around the level of the 1960s and 1970s given all the modern technologies and developments we’ve had in the following decades, but given society’s huge growth and improvements in quality of life our emissions are in fact higher. (1)

According to the report of the Finnish Environment Institute in 2017, the most popular ways to reduce the individual’s impact on the environment were:
  • Reducing & separating waste
  • Cutting down the consumption of disposable items
  • Buying locally produced food (5)

Fewer respondents were willing to take action and make low carbon consumption choices in the fields of energy and mobility that are significant sources of greenhouse gases. However, it is crucial to find motivators for reducing the emissions in these areas that require more changes to the current lifestyles. (5)

All the sources we studied and read for this Speak of The Frog article agreed that one of the most efficient ways to reduce one’s greenhouse gas emissions is to generally consume less. We should carefully consider our purchases and think of creative ways to prolong the lifespan of our items and avoiding extra waste. It is not always necessary to buy new items when we can easily repair the old one, or avoid buying a new item altogether when one can borrow, rent, or buy second hand. 

Better choices for more sustainable lifestyle

It is pointless to think that our lives in the western countries will stay the same after global heating, even taking into account that the effects are more catastrophic in the third world. However, we can all make a positive impact by normalising a new, more sustainable way to live. (1)

Changing our current lifestyle and norms of consumption doesn’t have to mean we must give up everything and give up our living standards. The concept of “good life” has always been changing and it will continue to change still. What was necessary for living in the past is not always necessary today. What we think is indispensable now, won’t necessarily be in the future.

In the end, we believe we can all agree that we enjoy clean air to breathe, new greener working places, and having more time for the most important things in life without having to think about consuming more.

Ama & Essi


Edited by Alex Burchell

Photos by Julius Töyrylä

Better choices for more sustainable lifestyle


  1. Rinna Saramäki: 250 ilmastotekoa joilla pelastat maailman. Otava. 2019. 
  2. World Data Atlas - Finland - Environment: Finland CO2 emissions per capita
  3. Syke 2019: Suomen kotitalouksien kulutuksen hiilijalanjälki kasvussa, julkisten hankintojen hiilijalanjälki laskettu ensimmäistä kertaa.
  4. Finnish Environment Institute Sitra 2017: Consumption choices to decrease personal carbon footprints of Finns
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