OTHERWISE is a project, a movement, a network, an idea.

OTHERWISE involves learning about sustainability and sustainable consumption. It’s about figuring out what actions we can and want to take to consume so that we have less damaging impact on the environment and promote more equality between people. It’s about how we might want to help our communities be more healthy, vibrant, connected, in tune with nature, environmentally friendly and sustainable. It’s about acting now so that future generations can enjoy clean water, clean air, beaches and oceans and rainforests. It’s about doing this while learning from and having the support of peers and our communities.

Here are some questions for you:

  • Have you ever thought about how your personal consumption choices can affect your health, the environment, and the well-being of other people in both Australia and overseas?
  • Do you believe your consumption choices could have an influence over the lives of people who live thousands of kilometres away? Why do you buy certain products and use various services such as electricity and water?
  • What things would help you become a change agent on sustainable consumption?
  • Have you ever heard of sustainable consumption? What does it mean to you?

We look forward to sharing this journey with you and helping you as you help others and the community to live OTHERWISE. Otherwise the future of our communities and our planet may not be so good.

What is sustainable consumption anyway?

Consumption is part of who we are. We consume every day – water, food, energy. Over the last few centuries, the nature of our consumption has changed dramatically, especially in developed countries. Now, the damage caused by our consumption is huge. Today, nearly forty percent of the world’s agricultural land is seriously degraded . This is just one environmental concern, but a major one, as it undermines our capacity to produce food. Others include soil salinity, deforestation, pollution and global warming. All are results of our consumption behaviour. Indeed, consumption not only impacts the environment but also is directly related to labour rights in developing countries, animal rights, poverty, economic and social inequality, and our health.

Sustainable consumption is an integral component of sustainable development. In essence, it is generally about finding different and more efficient ways to consume. However, it does also mean that many of us might need to consume more, for example if your basic needs for food, water and shelter are not being met, while many others might need to consume less. Although many definitions of sustainable consumption are quite confusing, they each have the following common features:

  • Satisfying basic human needs (not the desire for ‘wants’ and luxuries);
  • Sharing resources between rich and poor;
  • Privileging quality of life concerns over material standards of living;
  • Minimising resource use, waste and pollution;
  • Taking a life-cycle perspective in consumer decision-making; and
  • Acting with concern for future generations.

Young people have a critical role to play in shaping future consumption patterns and promoting sustainable lifestyles. What will you do to make a positive difference?

Who is OTHERWISE? Where did it come from?

OTHERWISE is a project of the International Young Professionals Foundation, RMIT University, and increasing number of individual and community partners and investors.

It has grown out of research for the National Youth Affairs Research Scheme, an Australian Commonwealth and State & Territory Government initiative, that produced a report entitled Sustainable Consumption: Young Australians as Agents of Change.

Now, IYPF, RMIT University, an Australian Working Group, and are working collaboratively with communities and young Australians to run the OTHERWISE project around the country.

You can download and read our otherWISE project brochure April 2007 here.

You can join our Facebook network here.

If you are interested in OTHERWISE happening in your community, you can contact us via youth [dot] sc [at] iypf [dot] org (replace the dots and ats with actual dots and ats :P).


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