Covering 31 European countries, the report structures its assessment of the environmental effects of household consumption into four categories: food and drink; housing; personal travel and mobility; and tourism.
Household consumption has increased and changed its form since households are getting smaller and use more energy, water and waste per person. This also leads to increase in personal travel and health expenditures. It is most likely that the pressure on environment will continue to grow. Hence attaining a sustainable consumption and production is a challenge and responsibilty for all the stakeholders of society. Legal and regulatory instruments such as directives, laws and regulations, market-based mechanism such as levies, charges, and technological improvements are necessary to bend the current trend, argues the EEA.
As regard to the impact on health, habits in food and drink consumption have a significant impact on environmental resources. The most significant one comes from food production and processing: About one third of households’ total environmental impact is related to food and drink consumption. It comprises the indirect or direct effects of livestock agriculture and industry on water, soil and air, the overuse of fish resources, the increase of food transport and packaging waste.
The report suggests that organic food consumption, adoption of less meat-intensive diet, purchase of local fruits and vegetables of the season would relieve the pressure on the environment. A good labeling system on organic products would enable consumers to make sustainable choices, advises the EEA. Recent food safety problems such as mad cow, pig fest and Avian influeza threaten consumers’ health. Hence sustainable food consumption could be a good start to improve the environment.