Consumerism has been and still is a vital component in the world’s economies. There are many ways in which British consumers cause issues within our environment. Transporting goods, buying products online and going on holiday create some of our biggest environmental challenges. This can impact on ecosystems throughout our world.
Consumerisation, global interdependence and ecosystems
Impacts on tropical rainforests
A major environmental impact of increased consumerisation is the deforestation of the tropical rainforests. Global interdependence means demand for wood for furniture, construction and paper is forever increasing and these are obvious reasons for chopping down trees - deforestation. However this type of deforestation is called logging and only accounts for about five per cent of rainforest destruction. The main reasons for deforestation are:
Cattle ranching - 70 per cent of the rainforest is now being lost due to cattle ranching. Meat is sold globally as well as locally.
Agri-business - five per cent of the rainforest is being lost due to agri-business. Cocoa production and soya beans are being grown in order to generate income for farmers. The UK and America import large quantities of both these products.
Palm oil - in some regions of the world palm oil is extracted from the trees which brings great wealth to areas. Palm oil is widely used as cooking oil, which is regarded by many consumers as a healthier alternative to other cooking oils.
Mining - a small percentage of forest is being destroyed for mining. Within the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), coltan and gold is mined from within the tropical rainforest. Coltan is a material essential for making our mobile phone batteries. The map below shows the location of mines, including coltan, within the DRC.