Can governments help us live sustainably?

Our choices as consumers are an important part of achieving environmental sustainability [1,10]. Even if you have the best intentions, it can be hard to reduce your carbon footprint as much as you might like. Fortunately, governments have some power to help us make more sustainable choices [2].

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: transport is responsible for around 20% of global CO2 emissions from burning fuel [11]. Public transport reduces emissions by having more people in each vehicle [3]. Taking the bus or train is also often cheaper than driving [3]. Cities in the USA, in particular, need to be altered so they are better for travelling by foot [5,6].

LABELLING: you might want to buy products with a low environmental impact, but knowing which to choose can be a challenge! Fridges are already labelled with energy efficiencies (graded A+++ to D) – this has allowed consumers to choose planet-friendly fridges, and put pressure on producers to make efficient fridges [7]. Appliances with labels have increased in efficiency 3x faster than those without labels [7]! Having similar labels on other products, like food, could help us choose low-impact products, and encourage companies to improve their products [7,8].

SPREAD INFO: governments should give clear recommendations of the most effective actions for people to take in order to reduce their environmental footprint. Providing a list of actions with the estimated benefit of each would allow people to trust that making these choices will have a real effect [9]. This information must be available and understandable to everyone. But since governments aren’t doing it, we are!


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