CARE Knowledge is a virtual community of knowledge and experiences on responsible consumption, where information material will be hosted in open; through PR2, theoretical-empirical research on responsible consumption will be generated and supported in a segmented manner in the countries of the project, and policies to promote responsible consumption and its effectiveness will be analysed to contribute to the formulation of effective public measures.
CARE Knowledge will also offer a space for the exchange and dissemination of responsible consumption experiences provided by partners, citizens, and academic, economic and social actors, for compilation of good practices and success stories.
Since a few years ago, the University of Aveiro has been committed to improving the figures about sustainable mobility. To do that, it has launched and involved in several European and Municipal projects. Some ones are:
UAUbike - the University of Aveiro's project, which, as part of U-Bike Portugal, aims to promote soft mobility, with a focus on the bicycle. 142 conventional bicycles and 97 electric bicycles were given to the entire academic community, on a free, long-term basis, in order to help create regular habits of using this means of transport, as well as promoting energy efficiency and rationalizing consumption. To know more about this project, please visit the website http://uaubike.web.ua.pt/en!
Since 2016, the TECHNOLOGY PLATFORM OF BIKE AND SOFT MOBILITY (http://compromissopelabicicleta.web.ua.pt/) of the University of Aveiro launched the commitment for cycling with the motto: MORE BICYCLES, BETTER CITIES, HEALTHY PEOPLE, SOCIETY AND ECONOMY! The main objective of the commitment was to raise awareness, gain community support, and put the cycling theme on the public agenda.
In 2017, the University of Aveiro integrated also &ldquoThe European Cycling Challenge (ECC2017)&rdquo, a urban cyclists&rsquo team competition. It was a challenge among European cities: the city that &ldquorides&rdquo the longest total distance wins! The challenge was open to all people living in participating cities or travelling to/from/across those cities for work, study or other reasons. All journeys made by bicycle instead of other means of transportation (such as car, motorcycle or any engine powered vehicles) were accepted. For instance: journeys to and from workplace, school, to shopping, to go to the cinema, etc&hellip were valid journeys. To know more about this initiative, visit the website https://cyclingchallenge.eu/ecc2017.
To know also more about the use of bicycle in cities, you can know the Bike Buddy (BB) project developed by MUBi - Association for the Urban Mobility in Bicycle (https://bikebuddy.mubi.pt/) - which helps the new bicycle users in their first journeys in urban context. Or, Aveiro, Portugal, Ciclaveiro - a local association that promotes bicycles as an important and convenient means of urban transportation and its advantages for improving the urban quality of life. Ciclaveiro develops projects with the community to create and improve the conditions for cycling so that the use of the bicycle is easier, safer and more and more common. If you are interested, visit the website: https://ciclaveiro.pt/!
The origin of waterproofing goes back at least to the 13th Century when South American natives covered their clothes with latex to make them waterproof. Europeans imported the idea, but its success was not immediate: the first waterproof clothes were heavy, uncomfortably hard, and because of the solvent used to spread the latex on the fabrics, they were very smelly. The development of polymer chemistry allowed them to become lighter, more flexible and odourless. But the most remarkable quality of modern waterproofs is that they also allow perspiration from the skin that is, they prevent rainwater from getting in, but allow water vapour perspiration to go out. This effect is achieved by creating structures with tiny pores, through which drops of water can&rsquot get pass, but through which isolated water vapour molecules can.
The modern airy waterproof fabrics are made with two layers of polymers with different properties: a first layer of a micro-porous polymer that is hydrophobic, i.e. it repels water, and a layer of polyurethane, turned inwards, closer to the skin and which is hydrophilic (i.e. it attracts water) and absorbs the humidity that is released from the skin. Then a bit of thermodynamics comes into play: the difference in temperature between the inside and the outside creates the necessary conditions for the water molecules absorbed by the polyurethane to be pushed to the outside. If you wear a waterproof coat and feel like you&rsquore in a sauna, then it is because you&rsquore still not taking advantage of the developments of the chemistry of polymers.
To know more about the chemistry of waterproof clothing, visit the website of the associate laboratory CICECO &ndash Aveiro Institute of Materials, at the University of Aveiro, Portugal (https://www.ciceco.ua.pt/?menu=294&tabela=geral&language=eng). It has the mission of developing the scientific and technological knowledge necessary for the innovative production and transformation of ceramics and organic-inorganic hybrids and materials for sustainable development, where research for innovation in waterproof clothing is also its purpose.
You can also to visit the website http://www.aquimicadascoisas.org/en/ to know more about waterproof clothing and other research developed in context of &ldquoThe Chemistry of Things&rdquo project.
A dissertation developed at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, aimed to understand the consumer&rsquos knowledge about slow fashion, the environmental problems in apparel industry, the motivations and choices when buying apparel, and the associations about sustainable clothing and slow fashion. Facing the scarce information mainly about the relation between slow fashion and consumer, the investigation used qualitative and quantitative methodology to collect data through a questionnaire survey. It was possible to conclude that consumers do not have enough knowledge about environmental problems and about slow fashion. The main factor of choice when buying clothes is the price or price-quality, and associations of the slow fashion apparel are mainly related with environmental clothes.
The full paper is available at: http://hdl.handle.net/10773/26828.
Reference: Gomes, Yelizaveta Maznyeva. (2019). Slow fashion em Portugal: uma abordagem exploratória. Dissertação de Mestrado em Gestão, Universidade de Aveiro. https://ria.ua.pt/handle/10773/26828.
The student organization Green Mind, founded by students of the University of Aveiro in 2022, organized the third edition of the conference on environmental education on December 6. The first day was dedicated to the responsible use of resources with the topic &ldquoSustainable Materials&rdquo. The Green Mind organization focuses on environmental education for everyone and aims to transmit reliable and easy-to-understand information to all types of audiences, using knowledge from external sources as well as that acquired by students throughout their academic career. The Green Mind organization also carries out visits to primary and secondary schools where it conveys the importance of the environment. According to João Santos, from the organization, &ldquocarrying out recreational activities with students is crucial and one of the organization's focuses, as the transmission of information using practice (such as educational games) is of enormous importance, this being one of the many focuses on dissemination of reliable and simple-to-understand information&rdquo. More information on
The tourism industry is growing fast, albeit it is acknowledged that tourism practices are frequently a threat to the environment and to the world's ecosystems. Sustainable tourism practices are emerging as an alternative to mass tourism and in this context new trends in cycletourism have emerged. This paper focuses on cycletourism in Italy, region of Tuscany. It presents the Tyrrhenian Cycling Path project, involving three different Italian regions and municipalities in the Tuscany region. This new eco-compatible infrastructure will be able to connect different areas of interest for international and national tourists, enhancing the whole touristic area, targeting new flows of more responsible travellers and introducing new technologies in the field of recycling materials. The project aims to create a new collective conscience on sustainable practices and innovative solutions to tackle the exploitation of both the natural and cultural heritages with mass tourism.
The research work was developed in scientists&rsquo cooperation of Aveiro&rsquo University and the full paper is available at: https://doi.org/10.34624/rtd.v1i36.9921.
Reference: Fossi, A., & Au-Yong-Oliveira, M. (2021). Sustainable mobility practices in Tuscany, Italy: The Tyrrhenian Cycling Path. Revista Turismo & Desenvolvimento, 36(1), 175-186. https://doi.org/10.34624/rtd.v1i36.9921
ERSUC, responsible for the collection, treatment and recovery of urban waste from the Central Coast, and the Aveiro City Council started last month the pilot project for the selective collection of waste for recycling, in a door-to-door model, allowing for a better waste management and reinforcing the correct routing of different types of waste. Initially, the campaign will take place in 5,559 homes, with subsequent expansion to the entire municipality. To mobilize the population, ERSUC will distribute, free of charge, 120-liter containers for recycling paper/cardboard (blue lid), plastic/metal packaging/drink packets (yellow lid) and glass packaging (green lid). With the containers, which waste will then be collected by the company, a calendar will also be delivered, indicating the day and time of collection for each box. Along with the delivery of containers and the collection schedule, ERSUC will also raise awareness among the population about the importance of recycling and the adoption of sustainable behavior. You can know more at
Health on the Table is a series of events dedicated to food and nutrition organized by Fábrica da Ciência Viva of the University of Aveiro. The agenda, prepared in cooperation with Aveiro School of Health Sciences (ESSUA), includes informal conversations, cooking shows and workshops with doctors, nutritionists, authors, chefs and representatives of schools, in an attempt to raise awareness towards the importance of food choices for a better health.
The diversity of guests and proposals will ensure moments of clarification and suggestions that will impact our daily lives positively, covering topics such as food myths and food waste, salt and sugar, labels&rsquo interpretation, or prevention and treatment of diseases. Younger audiences will have to chance to prepare their own meals inspired by the Mediterranean diet or listen to traditional tales on eating habits.
More information can be consulted here https://www.ua.pt/en/fabrica/saude-a-mesa
"The Recipe for..." is the European University's podcast dedicated to the topic of Health. Here we will prescribe the recipe for excellence in topics as varied as health management or the role of digital transformation in this area.
In this episode, Alexandra Bento, Coordinator of the Nutrition Area at the European University, welcomes Helena Real, General Secretary at the Portuguese Nutrition Association, to talk about Food Sustainability. You can watch it here
The Golden Goose textile brand has taken a high-impact step towards sustainability with the opening of its "Forward Store" in Milan and Paris. This cutting-edge space not only celebrates craftsmanship and creativity, but also introduces a revolutionary concept: the "Remake".
"Remake" is Golden Goose's answer to responsible consumption. In this store format, customers can give new life to their products, whether new or used, through a wide range of customization options. From distressed effects to unique embroidery, consumers can design exclusive items that match their style and values.
This committed approach to product lifecycle extension highlights the brand's commitment to sustainability and creativity. By offering customers the ability to create one-of-a-kind garments and shoes, Golden Goose Forward Stores become an example of innovation in retail fashion, paving the way for a more conscious and planet-friendly future.
The Anthropocene is marked by significant changes in the Earth's systems, largely driven by human activities, including agriculture. Food systems are a major contributor to environmental degradation and are increasingly threatening global health. The report argues for the urgent need to align human diets with sustainable food production to address the dual challenge of feeding a growing population and safeguarding the planet.
1. Current Diets and Health Implications: The report highlights that current global diets, characterized by high consumption of unhealthy foods, contribute to a range of health issues, including malnutrition, obesity, and diet-related diseases. These diets are a leading cause of premature death and disability.
2. Environmental Impact: The environmental impact of current food production systems is staggering. Agriculture is a major driver of biodiversity loss, deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, and water pollution. Addressing these environmental challenges is critical for the planet's long-term well-being.
3. Healthy Diets Within Planetary Boundaries: The EAT-Lancet Commission proposes a "planetary health diet" that represents a flexitarian eating pattern, with an emphasis on plant-based foods. This diet is designed to meet nutritional needs while staying within the boundaries of sustainable food production.
4. Balanced Diet Components: The recommended diet consists of diverse and balanced food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and modest amounts of animal-source foods (e.g., fish, poultry, and dairy). Red meat and sugar consumption should be significantly reduced.
5. The Role of Food Production: Sustainable food systems are crucial to achieving the planetary health diet. This includes shifting towards regenerative agriculture, reducing food waste, and addressing issues like overfishing.
6. Equity and Food Access: Achieving sustainable diets must also consider equity and food access issues. The report emphasizes the need to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food.
7. Government and Private Sector Roles: Governments and the private sector play essential roles in shaping food systems. Policy changes, subsidies, and incentives can support the shift towards sustainable diets.
The EAT-Lancet Commission's report is groundbreaking in its approach to addressing the interconnected challenges of diet, health, and the environment. It recognizes that these challenges are inextricably linked and that addressing one without considering the others is insufficient.
1. A Holistic Approach: The report's call for a planetary health diet reflects a holistic approach to human and environmental well-being. It recognizes that our diets have profound implications for both our health and the health of the planet.
2. Balancing Act: Achieving a balance between providing nutritious food for a growing global population and reducing the environmental impact of food production is a complex challenge. The planetary health diet offers a potential solution by outlining a framework for sustainable and healthy eating.
3. The Role of Agriculture: The report acknowledges the central role of agriculture in this challenge. Transforming agriculture to be more sustainable and regenerative is essential for achieving the recommended diet while minimizing environmental harm.
4. Cultural and Societal Aspects: It's important to recognize that the transition to sustainable diets is not solely a matter of changing individual eating habits. Cultural, societal, economic, and political factors all play a role in shaping our food choices and systems.
5. Global Collaboration: Achieving the goals outlined in the report requires global collaboration among governments, the private sector, civil society, and individuals. It is not a challenge that can be addressed by any one group in isolation.
The EAT-Lancet Commission's report provides a compelling case for rethinking our approach to food production and consumption. It highlights the urgent need to address the interconnected challenges of diet-related health issues and environmental sustainability. The planetary health diet offers a roadmap for a more sustainable and healthy future, but its implementation will require concerted efforts at all levels of society.
By embracing the recommendations outlined in the report and working together to transform our food systems, we have the opportunity to improve human health, protect the environment, and create a more equitable and sustainable world for future generations. The report serves as a call to action for individuals, policymakers, and businesses to prioritize the well-being of both people and the planet in the choices we make regarding food.
Water is a finite and essential resource for life, and its scarcity is becoming a global concern. The water footprint of a product or industry refers to the total volume of freshwater used throughout its entire production cycle, encompassing the water used in the production of raw materials, manufacturing processes, transportation, and end-of-life disposal.
The clothing industry, although often overlooked, has a significant impact on freshwater resources through its extensive water footprint, that refers to the amount of water used in the production process of clothing items, including the growing of cotton, dyeing, finishing, and washing. Exploring the water footprint of the clothing industry, its environmental consequences, and the urgent need for sustainable practices to mitigate this issue is an urgent concern.
Impacts of the clothing Industry
In the case of the clothing industry, the water footprint primarily arises from the cultivation of raw materials like cotton. Cotton, one of the most widely used materials in the clothing industry, is a particularly water-intensive crop that requires large amounts of water for irrigation: estimates suggest that around 10,000 to 20,000 litres of water are needed to produce just one kilogram of cotton, and the production of one cotton t-shirt requires around 2,700 litres of water.  In regions where water resources are scarce, the cultivation of cotton exacerbates water scarcity, and the depletion of freshwater resources put additional pressure on already stressed ecosystems.
Beyond cotton cultivation, the textile processing stages also contribute to the industry's significant water footprint. Dyeing, printing, and finishing processes require substantial volumes of water, often mixed with various chemicals: the dyeing and finishing of clothing items require up to 200 litres of water to dye a single kilogram of textile.
Wastewater discharged from these processes contains pollutants such as dyes, heavy metals, and toxic chemicals, which can have significant impacts on the health of local ecosystems and communities when not properly treated.
In addition to the environmental impact there is also a social impact. The production of clothing items often takes place in countries with low labour costs, where workers may be exposed to poor working conditions, low wages, and limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities. This can exacerbate the impact of the clothing industry's water footprint on local communities, particularly in regions where water resources are already scarce.
Sustainable practices and innovations for reducing the water footprint in the industry
The clothing industry must take immediate action to reduce its water footprint and transition towards more sustainable practices. Various approaches can contribute to mitigate the impact of the clothing industry's water footprint on the environment and society, emphasizing  the need for urgent action and outlines various approaches to mitigate the industry's impact on the environment and society.
1. Water-Efficient Technologies: Implementing innovative technologies such as low-water dyeing, advanced water recycling systems, and sustainable practices in cotton cultivation can significantly reduce water consumption during production.
2. Sustainable Materials: Encouraging the use of eco-friendly fibers and fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, or recycled polyester reduces the water footprint of garments.
3. Transparency and certifications: Increasing transparency and accountability through certification schemes and labels provide information about the environmental and social impacts of clothing items, enabling consumers to make informed decisions.
4. Supply Chain Collaboration: Collaboration among clothing brands, suppliers, and NGOs is crucial to developing sustainable practices and technologies. Sharing best practices, adopting common water stewardship standards, and investing in sustainable supply chains can drive positive change.
5. Consumer Awareness and Education: Raising awareness about the water footprint of the clothing industry and providing guidance on sustainable purchasing decisions and garment care empowers consumers to make environmentally conscious choices.
6. Circular Economy Approaches: Shifting towards a circular economy model that focuses on recycling, reusing, and extending garment lifespan significantly reduces the overall water footprint of the industry.
Good practices that consumers can adopt
Once garments are produced, consumer habits further compound the water footprint of the clothing industry. Frequent washing of clothes, often using excessive water and energy, contributes to unnecessary water consumption. In fact, studies indicate that around 20% of a garment's total water footprint occurs during consumer use. Consequently, consumers play a crucial role in reducing the water footprint of the clothing industry and here are some actions consumers can take:
1. Choose Sustainable Brands: Support clothing brands that prioritize sustainable practices and transparency. Look for brands that use eco-friendly materials, implement water-saving technologies, and promote responsible manufacturing.
2. Buy Less and Buy Better: Practice conscious consumption by buying fewer but higher-quality garments. Invest in durable clothing that lasts longer, reducing the need for frequent replacements and saving water in the production process.
3. Opt for Sustainable Fibres: Choose garments made from sustainable fibres such as organic cotton, hemp, linen, or recycled materials. These fibres often require less water for cultivation or production compared to conventional materials.
4. Consider Second-hand and Vintage: Explore second-hand and vintage clothing options. Buying pre-loved garments extends their lifespan and reduces the demand for new production, thereby conserving water resources.
5. Wash Clothes Responsibly: Follow sustainable laundering practices, such as washing clothes only when necessary, using lower water temperatures, and using full loads. This reduces water consumption and extends the life of your garments.
6. Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the environmental and social impact of the clothing industry. Learn about certifications and labels that provide information on a garment's sustainability, such as organic, Fair Trade, or GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard).
7. Support Clothing Recycling and Donation Programs: Participate in clothing recycling initiatives or donate unwanted garments to organizations that promote reuse and recycling. This helps reduce textile waste and the water-intensive processes associated with new production.
8. Advocate for Change: Use your voice to raise awareness about the water footprint of the clothing industry. Engage with brands, policymakers, and organizations, urging them to adopt more sustainable practices and transparency.
By incorporating these actions into their purchasing habits and daily routines, consumers can contribute to reducing the water footprint of the clothing industry and promoting a more sustainable and responsible fashion ecosystem.
The water footprint of the clothing industry poses significant challenges to freshwater resources and ecosystems. The impact of the clothing industry's water footprint on the environment and society is significant, particularly in regions where water resources are scarce. From cotton cultivation to textile processing and consumer habits, the industry's water-intensive practices demand urgent attention and sustainable solutions. However, there are potential solutions to mitigate this impact, including improving the efficiency of water use, increasing transparency and accountability, and fostering collaboration and partnerships across the industry and the consumers.
Mekonnen, M.M., & Hoekstra, A.Y. (2016). Four billion people facing severe water scarcity. Science Advances, 2(2), e1500323. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1500323
Azapagic, A., Perdan, S., & Clift, R. (2012). Sustainable supply chain management in the UK clothing industry: An analysis of corporate reports. Business Strategy and the Environment, 21(5), 309-322.
Global Fashion Agenda & Sustainable Apparel Coalition. (2017). Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017. Retrieved from https://www.globalfashionagenda.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Pulse-of-the-Fashion-Industry_2017.pdf
Fletcher, K. (2018). Sustainable fashion and textiles: Design journeys. Routledge.
Shen, L., & Wen, F. (2020). The water footprint of the global textile and clothing industry: Supply chain and governance system. Journal of Cleaner Production, 246, 119003. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.119003
De Cáceres, N.B., Laínez-Aguirre, J.M., de Castro, J.A., & Fernández-Sotos, P. (2020). Water footprint assessment of the Spanish textile industry: Towards sustainable water management. Journal of Cleaner Production, 256, 120532. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.120532
The clothing industry has a profound social and labour impact, particularly in poor countries where many clothing manufacturing facilities are located. These impacts can be both positive and negative, shaping the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. In this essay, we will explore the social and labour impacts of the clothing industry in poor countries.
One of the positive social impacts of the clothing industry is job creation. The industry provides employment opportunities for a significant number of people, particularly women. In many developing countries, the clothing industry is one of the largest employers, offering jobs to individuals who may otherwise struggle to find work. These jobs can provide a source of income and contribute to poverty reduction, empowering individuals and their families to improve their living standards and access essential services such as education and healthcare.
However, there are also significant challenges and negative labour impacts associated with the clothing industry in poor countries. One of the most pressing issues is poor working conditions. Many clothing manufacturing facilities in these countries are characterized by low wages, long working hours, and unsafe working environments. Workers may face harsh conditions, including exposure to hazardous chemicals, inadequate ventilation, and physical strain from repetitive tasks. These conditions can lead to health problems and pose risks to workers' safety and well-being.
Furthermore, labour rights violations are a major concern in the clothing industry. Workers may face exploitation, including forced labour, child labour, and denial of basic rights such as freedom of association and collective bargaining. Many workers lack job security, with temporary contracts and a lack of social protections. These labour rights violations are often driven by intense competition, pressure to meet deadlines, and cost-cutting measures within the industry.
The social impacts of the clothing industry extend beyond the factory walls. The influx of clothing manufacturing facilities often leads to rapid urbanization, with the establishment of industrial zones and migration of workers from rural areas to cities. While this can create opportunities, it also presents challenges such as overcrowded and inadequate housing, increased strain on public services, and social dislocation.
The gender dynamics within the clothing industry also warrant attention. Women make up a significant portion of the workforce, and their employment in the industry can contribute to their empowerment and financial independence. However, gender discrimination and unequal treatment persist, including lower wages compared to their male counterparts and limited opportunities for advancement into management positions. There is a need to address these gender disparities and promote gender equality within the industry.
To address these social and labour impacts, several measures can be taken. Firstly, it is crucial to promote and enforce labour standards and regulations, ensuring that workers' rights are protected. This includes providing fair wages, safe working conditions, and the right to organize and bargain collectively. Governments, industry associations, and international organizations play a crucial role in establishing and enforcing these standards.
Additionally, greater transparency and supply chain accountability are essential. Brands and retailers should take responsibility for the working conditions in their supply chains, ensuring that their products are produced under ethical and socially responsible conditions. This can be achieved through the implementation of certification schemes, independent audits, and transparency initiatives that allow consumers and stakeholders to make informed choices.
Investing in worker training and capacity-building programs can also contribute to improving labour conditions. By providing workers with the necessary skills and knowledge, they can be empowered to demand better working conditions and access higher-paying jobs. Moreover, supporting initiatives that promote women's empowerment and gender equality can help address the gender disparities within the industry.
In conclusion, the social and labour impacts of the clothing industry in poor countries are complex and multifaceted. While it offers employment opportunities, it also presents significant challenges such as poor working conditions, labour rights violations, and gender disparities. Addressing these issues requires a collaborative effort involving governments, industry stakeholders, and civil society to establish and enforce labour standards, promote transparency, and invest in worker training and empowerment programs.
The interview with Marta Ortega, heiress to the Inditex textile empire, offers an interesting insight into her approach to sustainability and innovation within the fashion industry. Ortega talks about the importance of addressing environmental and social challenges in the textile industry and how sustainability has become a key priority for Inditex.
Ortega also talks about how the pandemic has affected the fashion industry and how Inditex has responded to changing consumer preferences. The interview also touches on topics such as the digitisation of fashion and how Inditex is using technology to improve efficiency in its supply chain and offer a more personalised shopping experience.
This interview offers an interesting insight into the future of the fashion industry and how Inditex is tackling environmental and social challenges through innovation and sustainability. In addition, the interview is an interesting read for those interested in fashion and business, especially those who are interested in how companies can address current and future challenges effectively.
Full textt available at: https://forbes.es/ultima-hora/249950/marta-ortega-inditex-no-queremos-ser-rapidos-sino-agiles-y-flexibles-ni-grandes-sino-relevantes/
Picture: MarkSpera BeGood, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Everyday millions of people around the world are renewing their electrical devices such as computers, battery cars or cell phones.
Are we aware about the materials, energy and water needed to produce them?
Are we aware of the environmental problems associated with the treatment of waste from used appliances?
Do we believe that mining is required to obtain some of the semiconductor metals needed to produce these elements?
Impacts & Benefits
The use of electronic/semiconductor-based components is becoming more popular, such as computers, cell phones, car batteries, and other electrical devices. In addition, these devices are renewed from time to time, making it necessary to produce new goods and treat the old ones as waste.
Rare metals are the next &lsquoblack gold&rsquo. Without them, all sorts of green technology from wind turbines to electric cars and solar panels would not work. Rare metals are a family of thirty or so raw materials with often exotic names, like tungsten, cobalt, tantalum, indium, and gallium (Pitron, 2018). These products have two main issues (impacts) regarding environmental concerns and sustainability.
First, they require the use of metals (semiconductors) that must be acquired through mining, which is quite a polluting activity. Mining requires the movement / alteration of large amounts of earth, the use of a lot of energy and water to extract the necessary metals from ores, and produces a large amount of contaminated water and soil. In addition, this activity is usually carried out in regions such as South America and Africa where, in many cases, environmental and safety regulations at work are not followed correctly.
The extraction and refinement of rare metals cause immense environmental damage. The use of these metals in green and digital technologies requires the extraction of huge volumes of rock and the use of huge amounts of acids. To purify one ton of rare earths, 200 cubic meters of water are needed. In the process, this water is contaminated with heavy metals ending up, untreated, in rivers, soils and aquifers (Pitron, 2018).
Secondly, the fact that they are renewed frequently makes the number of used items more and more. These devices contain highly polluting heavy metals that cannot be treated in conventional landfills. On the other hand, the processes to recover the metals from them are very energetically and economically demanding, not being commercially feasible in most cases.
The best practice is to re-use and repair electronic components if it is possible and limited the number of new devices as much as possible. For example, if the problem with your cell phone is that the battery is not performing properly, you can consider just changing the battery and avoiding acquiring a new cell phone. By this way you will save money and help environment.
In case you really need to change your apparatus, please, do not thought it to the conventional domestic waste and use the &ldquoclean points&rdquo that are available in almost of big cities/communities.
Some companies such as Vodaphone or Apple have initiatives to their clients to collect the used devices. By this way, they can reduce the amount of waste and reuse some of the pieces from the used units.
Current and future challenges
After its dependence first on coal and later on oil, European society, in its transition to renewable energies, will be limited in the future by the availability of rare metals. The central role of rare metals in green and digital technology has important consequences not only for the environmental transition, but also for geopolitics and industrial policy in Europe and worldwide.
More local small companies focused on circular economy and centered on the reuse of electrical companies are required. According to some projections (references), more than 50 million tons of e-waste are discarded each year. Of this waste, only about 20% is recycled. These numbers show that this is also an economic opportunity.
Also, more &ldquoclean points&rdquo for the reuse of electrical devices would be desirable. If you do not have one of them in your city or village, you can ask to your local administration about it.
Greenwashing is a concept that describes a marketing campaign that focus on an environmental positive impact of the organization or the product in order to increase sales, but, in reality, that impact does not exist, and, in some cases, the new proposed &ldquogreen&rdquo option is even more pollutant that the conventional one. By this way, greenwashing increases consume of goods, being detrimental for the environment.
Some marketing campaigns also greenwash some initiatives with vague claims, without providing real data or scientific validation to those arguments. For example, they use terms like &ldquobio&rdquo, &ldquoeco-friendly&rdquo, &ldquosustainability&rdquo, or just claiming to be &ldquogood for the planet&rdquo or &ldquobetter for the environment&rdquo. The use of these terms may help the companies to appear greener and they have been extensively used without supporting evidence or facts.
One example of greenwashing is when McDonals began in 2019 to replace the plastic straws with those made of paper, with a marketing campaign that described the company as &ldquoeco-friendly&rdquo due to that. But it turned out that the paper straws were not recyclable and were not necessarily better that the plastic alternative due to several technical aspects (costs and residues of production and transportation).
Greenwashing can have a negative impact in the environment. First, the consumer realizes that the option they thought it was sustainable or more environmental benign. But when the consumer realizes that it was just greenwashing, a sense of distrust may occur and it provokes that the consumer will no longer trust the brand or product in question and, in general, in environmental arguments.
For companies that abuse of greenwashing, it can have a negative effect since the consumers may have the idea that they are not ethical, since this can degrade customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Abusing of Greenwashing produce frustration and, at the end, it may provoke that general public will do not take real green initiatives seriously, and this will have a potential negative environmental impact.
Thus, improving the formation of consumers in order to reduce the greenwashing effect, will have a positive effect in order to reduce environmental impact and also to increase consumer satisfaction and companies brand loyalty.
The companies that afford some steps in order to prevent greenwashing, in addition to, of course, having good intentions and do not try to deliberately mislead anyone about its environmental commitments.
First good practice is to use data to support any claim, to numerically detail the effects of the proposed actions/products.
The second good practice is to be truthful. Consider that, at the end, false statements, data and arguments will be discovered by the consumers.
Third practice would be to be specific and avoid the use of generic terms without a specific meaning. For example, using the terms &ldquoeco-friendly&rdquo without explaining how the product or service is environmental benign. Another way of being specific if to avoid misleading images. For example, avoid abusing of pictures from nature in order to evoke environmental friendliness that is not really related with the service or product.
Current and future challenges
In order to build a real trust in environmental issues, some areas must be addressed by the companies that use the concept of sustainability for their marketing campaigns.
The main challenge is that the marketing campaigns, and it is necessary that all the materials and documents used to promote a service or products be transparent and use real data and scientific arguments to support the information respect sustainability and other environmental issues.
It is also necessary to develop agreed tools that may help to eliminate confusion on what is considered sustainable and what is not.
Education for Sustainability, Peace and Global Citizenship: An Integrative Approach. Yanniris, C., Educ. Sci. 2021, 11, 430.
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Social Accountability and Corporate Greenwashing. J. Bus. Ethics, 2003, 43, 253-261.
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