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Please outline four to five solutions to the global overconsumption problem. Please comment on the differences between first world and third world consumption levels. And ponder a bit how this creates inequalities in terms of energy consumption, climate emissions, and impacts.

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Felicita Burton eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As the second part of the post suggests, consumption varies widely among different parts of the world. For this reason, it can be misleading to speak of a “global overconsumption” problem. Addressing consumption in terms of the global distribution of resources is one important starting point on a path toward reducing excessive consumption of certain key resources.

Overall, the most important way to reduce consumption is by educating people about its consequences and the benefits of alternatives.

Another key step is to increase effective re-use of existing resources overall so that new resources are not continuously tapped. Reducing the amount of single-use plastics is especially significant, because plastic is petroleum-based. Three related but distinct steps are important here. One is to re-use containers whenever possible, such as those made of glass or silicon. The others are to recycle all plastic and to purchase products made of recycled materials, whether these are small consumer items (e.g., sandals) or industrial items such as construction materials.

In terms of specific resources, water is the primary planetary resource, because life without it is impossible. Reduction of consumption depends in large part on reducing its industrial use, including in agro-business. Recycling waste water is one effective mechanism of reducing additional consumption of fresh water.

The reducing in oil consumption can also be achieved by reducing use of individual automobiles, increasing the use of public transportation, increasing solar-powered vehicles, and expanding vehicle-sharing services. Increased use of human-powered vehicles, such as bicycles, is also recommended.