Our environmental problem: too much money!

Our environmental problem: too much money!

The ecological footprint of the products and services we consume is enormous. Our studies have shown that the purchase of products and services each spent average triggers 0.2 kg CO2 equivalents (or 500 environmental pollution points UBP). About sixty percent of environmental pollution is solely due to the areas of life, living and mobility. Above all, it is decisive here: meat consumption, heating and driving. Particularly noteworthy: About two thirds of our ecological footprint are created "indirectly" by the purchase of products that were manufactured abroad. Environmental damage is mainly abroad, but the benefits are used. He trains students in the course of renewable energies and environmental technology and is actively researching as an institute partner at the UMTEC Institute for Environmental and Process Technology; Especially in the areas of process technology and recycling.

Waste is not the problem

even more remarkable: the disposal of waste and waste water only contributes 2.5 percent to our ecological footprint. It follows from this that a significant improvement in ecological footprint in countries with an orderly waste management cannot be achieved through even better waste management. The efforts targeting in this direction, such as a further forced plastic recycling, may rightly be referred to as "ineffective rituals". By their execution, you can profile yourself politically, and the citizen can feel "better", but basically it is expensive actionism without a noticeable ecological effect.

in an orderly disposal economy, as in the Dach states (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), the environmental problem is therefore not in the disposal of the products we bought at the end of their life cycle (= waste phase). Rather, it is in the environmental impact that trigger the products we consumed during their production abroad. This raises the question of how to push back the ecological effects of our consumption.

A solution is based on the knowledge that all consumed products will finally have to waste, with a linear connection: twice as many consumed products lead to twice as much waste. Unfortunately, this completely correct observation often leads to the following failure: half as much waste leads to halved consumption. This is obvious nonsense, because the connection between consumption and waste is not reversible - just as I can pull a dog on a leash, but cannot "push" it using a leash. Nevertheless, this nonsensical idea seems quite common and may be the root of the obsession of German environmental policy with the topic of avoidance of waste. There is no reason to avoid waste in countries with an orderly waste management. The following explanations deal with how we can use this income in such a way that the damage to the environment is minimized.


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What shouldn't we do?

As already explained in the introduction, it is completely pointless to want to improve the personal environmental balance sheet through optimized disposal behavior , for example by avoiding waste. Nor is the “sufficiency”, that is, the (partial) waiver of consumption. After all, this idea is conclusive: if I consume less, then less environmental damage arises from the production of the products in the producer countries. However, the concept of sufficiency is difficult to fit into our economic and social structure (keywords: market economy, self-determined consumer). A frequently mentioned advantage of sufficiency is that you not only avoid ecological damage, but also “save money”. And exactly here lies the problem. If we consider the “freely available income” of the consumer as a balance sheet limit, the question arises as to what the sufficient consumer should do with his income - if not consuming. Even if the "saved money" is inherited, it is converted into consumption by the heirs and no less damages the environment, but rather in time.

What should we do?

The best buying decisions are those in which the consumer creates a benefit for the environment instead of damaging them. An example of this is the acquisition of CO2 certificates in order to compensate for air travel. Such certificates are often displaced as "indulgence letters". However, this criticism is misguided: it makes no difference for the environment whether I compensate for a flight with CO2 certificates or whether I do not even compete. The certification mechanism known for CO2 should be expanded, to projects that aim to create environmentally friendly production of the goods consumed by us. Such projects are initiated with the greatest efficiency, especially where the most environmental impact is created, i.e. in the raw material -producing emerging countries. Because consumption is not a priori ecologically bad - bad consumption is bad. There is no good reason to use consumption, provided that only products are consumed that have been obtained from renewable resources with minimal environmental damage and are disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. As a result, it would make sense, for example, via a certificate trade to support environmentally friendly raw material extraction in the emerging countries.

In reality who personally do not bring him an immediate advantage but at most have a long -term influence on the climate, for example. Options for action that convey an immediate personal pleasure gain, but damage the environment as little as possible are much more expandable. hk.oss-cn-hongkong.aliyuncs.com/drawing/article_results_5/3/15/8bf0244c5983b75c23e6078fd7b93e_2.jpeg "Alt =" Our environmental problem! "Title =" Our environmental problem! " >

A possibility is the consumption of services: it is much more ecological to drive a taxi than with your own car. This - depending on the distance -, for example, in combination with the train: Taxi from the place of residence to the train station, train to the Bahnhof of the Zielstadt and there again the taxi to the destination. In this case, the additional costs face an immediately tangible personal advantage: You can drink alcohol, do not need to deal with the traffic conditions in a foreign city and can be easily chauffeured. Another example emerges from the report: in the restaurant Essen instead of cooking yourself. In the restaurant you can be operated by the kitchen and service staff and then do not have to clear the table. Incidentally, the recommendations of lucky researchers also go in this direction: "Invest your income in experiences and not in things". Since “experiences” are often related to services, such as in a good restaurant, in the wellness hotel, the massage or a concert visit, they are not only better than “things” due to their “intangible” nature. Above all, they are expensive and therefore trigger less environmental damage compared to the costs.

Another option is to consume “luxury goods”. So buying a nice but expensive clock does not create any more environmental damage than that of a cheap clock. The purchase of the luxury watch "destroys" a lot more money, which would trigger a much larger ecological damage elsewhere. Analogous when buying expensive shoes and handbags. One may object that the question of “luxury watch or cheap clock” does not arise for the average citizen. However, the term “luxury” is relative. The less well-earned can also afford “luxury goods”: a watch for 100 francs instead of CHF 25, an occasional visit to the cinema instead of television or a meal in the fast food restaurant instead of at home.

Further options to reduce the personal income, for example by working part -time or striving for early retirement.

FAZIT: The best purchase decision is not necessarily the product with the deeper ecological balance. It is the product that creates the slightest ecological damage per franc.


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