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Climate change campaign warns shoppers of consumption consequences

Zero Waste Scotland has today launched its first responsible consumption campaign, encouraging consumers to be “carbon savvy” when shopping.

13 Sep 21

Around 80% of our carbon footprint in Scotland comes from our consumption habits and this is damaging the planet. Only one fifth of the Scottish population is fully aware of the negative impact consuming new products has on climate change.

The campaign aims to educate consumers on simple ways they can tackle the climate crisis and bring to the forefront the startling fact that everything we buy, be that goods, materials or services, has a carbon cost. 

In June, Zero Waste Scotland published its landmark Scottish Material Flow Accounts, a model which calculates the scale and nature of Scotland’s consumption by calculating all the finished products we consume, whether made in Scotland or imported. This analysis quantified Scotland’s material footprint for the first time highlighting the unsustainably high rate at which Scots buy, use and discard products in their everyday lives, with the associated carbon footprint fuelling climate change at an alarming rate. 

Zero Waste Scotland calculates that the average Scot consumes 18.4 tonnes of materials every year – that’s the equivalent of 50kg per day on average. Academics agree that a sustainable level of material use, which would still allow for a high quality of life, is about eight tonnes per person per year.

In light of these findings, Zero Waste Scotland is advocating for mindful shopping, encouraging Scots to buy smarter and adopt reuse, repair and renting behaviours as well as embracing second-hand shopping. When finished with an item, it is calling on people to dispose of items responsibly by donating, reselling or recycling. 

Research carried out by Zero Waste Scotland found that 39% of Scots are very concerned about climate change and that there is a real willingness from the people of Scotland to change their behaviour, with 25% of Scots ‘definitely planning’ to change to tackle the climate crisis, and around half believing they will ‘probably change’. 

With global climate change discussions at an all-time high and COP26 coming to Glasgow this November, the topic of responsible consumption in relation to the climate crisis has never been more timely.

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Everything we buy has a carbon cost and we are urging Scots to think differently about what we buy and how we consume. Changing our own consumption habits is the single biggest thing we can all do to play our part in tackling climate change. 

“Now is the time for action and we want people to bin less and buy better, seeking out items which will last longer. Responsible consumption isn’t on the COP26 agenda so we wanted to ensure it is top of the consumer agenda.”

To learn more about the campaign, please visit wasteless.scot for further details. 


Notes For Editors

About Zero Waste Scotland

  • Zero Waste Scotland exists to lead Scotland to use products and resources responsibly, focusing on where we can have the greatest impact on climate change;
  • Using evidence and insight, our goal is to inform policy, and motivate individuals and businesses to embrace the environmental, economic, and social benefits of a circular economy;
  • We are a not-for-profit environmental organisation, funded by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund;
  • More information on all Zero Waste Scotland’s programmes can be found at www.zerowastescotland.org.uk. You can also keep up to date with the latest from Zero Waste Scotland via our social media channels - Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn;
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit our website or follow @scotgovESIF;
  • Findings featured within this release are from an Awareness Survey commissioned by Zero Waste Scotland in 2021;
  • The Scottish Material Flow Accounts were published by Zero Waste Scotland in 2021

For media enquiries please contact:

Carly Bannerman

3x1 Group

T: 0141 221 0707 / 07870 908 267 

E: cbannerman@3x1.com

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