A Home Sustainable Consumption Audit

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Sustainable Consumption – is that a contradiction in terms? Well whether it is or not, unless you live on a totally self sufficient property, there will be no alternative to being a consumer to some degree. This is not a bad thing because it can keep others gainfully employed but you can still make the decision to consume in a more sustainable manner. Since we consume energy, water, food etc there will be some overlap between this audit and the others discussed elsewhere, but as far as possible I have tried to limit the scope of the audit to the “things” we consume, the other bits that we have to buy occasionally or regularly, to live or to have a life.

It seems reasonable to use our purchasing power and behaviour to reduce our environmental impact as much as we can but that presumes we know where to start. The premise of this article and the associated sustainable consumption audit form is that it gives us a way to review how sustainable our practices are at the moment and help us work through what we need to do to improve.

You may want to work through the Sustainable Lifestyle Assessment Matrix first to understand the bigger picture of sustainable living or if you just want to focus on “stuff” alone give the audit a go. It can be as simple or formal as you like, filling the form out as you go or just running through things in your head and working out where you go from there. I recommend the more formal method so you have a record of where you are starting from which you can come back to later, re-do and get a feeling of how far you have come.

I also suggest that you share this with your family, or the people you are living with, so improvement can be on a united front.

Instructions

Go through all of the questions one section at a time and mark the number most appropriate for your answer from “always” = 3 down to “never” = 0 by circling, crossing out or whatever. Some questions may appear to support a more yes/no answer so to reflect this it would be best to mark 3 for yes and 0 for no. If the question is not applicable to your situation, strike it out and when counting up the maximum possible number to work out score do not add 3 for that question.

To calculate your score add up all of the potential answers and multiply by 3 to give the maximum possible score, and then add up all of the scores from your answers. Divide your answer score number by the maximum possible score and multiply by 100, this will give you your sustainable consumption score as a percentage. The number itself does not mean much, but acts as a base upon which to improve.

Review the results with your family, focussing on some of the lower scores and this will help you focus on areas which you wish to improve. This may be as simple as buying clothing second hand more often or making sure you buy environmentally friendly cleaning products; or you may wish to write up a plan so that you can track your progress over time. Either way you may want to run the sustainable consumption audit again every year or two to check over all progress.

Some of this stuff is a bit hard core, I have been assured by my lovely partner in the sustainable life, so don’t get too bent out of shape if you don’t make your own toothpaste every single time. This is all about exploring your own interests in sustainable living so follow up the ideas that interest you and the family, and give it a go.

Remember, the numbers themselves do not mean much, but provide a base upon which to improve and help you work out the direction you wish to improve in. The whole point of this exercise is to help you work out where the sustainability of your lifestyle is at currently and then help you make decisions on how you wish to improve it. Hopefully, it could even be fun as well!


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