New ideas for a responsible consumption

18 Consumers Associations and the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Pisa. They are the main characters of the Charter of circolar consumption which has the aim to promote a change of paradigm in the consumption culture. From waste and scraps to recycle and reuse. The Charter wants to be a contribution for the choices that our country must make to start a new economic policy. A policy that should quicken the green revolution. We cannot postpone it even more to face up the climatic and environmental issues.

The Charter is addressed to citizens, industries, and institutions so that we can establish new productive models, new sustainable development policy, and a decisive energy sources transformation.

Responsible, circular, and rational: all the principles of the ideal consumption

Citizens are the main characters of consumption, the first we have to educate to enjoy goods and services in a more responsible way. How to educate them? Associations will play their role, institutions will have to take their own initiatives, maybe projecting social campaigns. Companies cannot back out. On one side, they have to change the culture also inside the production site, on the other side they have to use well the trustworthiness of their customers. The citizen who makes buying decisions has to understand, find, choose, and prefer products that better respect the circular economy criteria. Companies must promote these knowledges through their communication channels.

The Charter introduces 11 circular consumption principles that must be:

  1. educated and aware
  2. transparent
  3. correctly informed
  4. always comparative
  5. balanced
  6. along several lives
  7. shared and collaborative
  8. always more digital
  9. inclusive and sustainable
  10. accessible
  11. sober and anti-waste

Why this Charter? The challenges we are facing up

These principles must not be stopped on a written paper or webpage. They must be grown along the weeks, constantly proposed to consumers. To promote, make known, correct mistakes, because they are part of learning. And companies and institutions are called to learn.

Consumers need support in this change, for overtaking the hindrances that until now have been a natural edge.

To help them to pass these hindrances, there are several challenges to face up. The Charter reports 4 of them:

  1. to give to consumers the chance to have reliable and understandable information about the environmental impacts of the products, about the industrial processes that generate the products, about the impacts of consumers’ buying decision. Everything is to protect the market and the community from the falsity of greenwashing
  2. to promote the knowledge of concepts of circularity and products/services environmental footprint
  3. to definitely overtake the throwaway approach both on consumption and production
  4. to involve the consumer in co-creating the products peculiarities, which depends both on every phase of their life cycle and their behaviors which concerns consumption and post-consumption (reuse, reparation, sharing, return, separate collection).

From issues to actions: some proposals for a circular consumption

Associations of Consumers have proposed some action to support the citizens-consumers.

  • circular education paths, useful to sensitize users and to favor a greater knowledge about circular economy and virtuous behaviors to adopt
  • creation of a vademecum about the main environmental labels on products, to help consumers to choose. It should be available through physical and virtual communication channels
  • clearer, more uniform, credible, and accessible information about products’ circularity characteristics, through an informative paper that gives all these information and eventual certification (with their values well explained). It could be reachable through a QR-code or barcode printed on the packaging
  • circular card with bonus and discounts for the purchasing if products and services made following the circular economy and with a reduced environmental footprint

Principles have been written, challenges have been identified, and proposals have been advanced. Now, companies, institutions, and citizens have to play their role.

The characters of the Charters

The 18 associations involved are: Acu, Adoc, Adusbef, Adiconsum, Altroconsumo, Assoconsum, Assoutenti, Casa Del Consumatore, Cittadinanzattiva, Codacons, Codici, Confconsumatori, Federconsumatori, Lega Consumatori, Movimento Consumatori, Movimento Difesa Del Cittadino, Udicon, and Unione Nazionale Consumatori.

Eni, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Pisa e Futour have collaborated on the paper as well.