Consumption Natural resources and the environment

How does natural resource consumption cause harm?

Almost everything we do involves raw materials that have been extracted, processed, transformed, bought and sold, and often transported vast distances. Natural resources like metals, trees and fertile land are used to produce countless everyday products, from smartphones containing cobalt to soaps made with palm oil.

Global supply chains controlled by big business wreak havoc on our planet’s life support systems as they exploit these natural resources. And this environmental destruction comes hand in hand with human rights abuses, particularly for people in the Global South. These communities bear the brunt of deforestation, mining and displacement, while global corporations reap the profits.

Businesses must be held accountable for any social and environmental damage they cause.

That’s why we’re campaigning for a new UK law that requires companies to ensure their supply chains do not harm people and planet.

Crowd of people walking along a pavement with shopping bags

Inequality

The world's richest countries consume on average 10 times as many materials as the poorest. It's grossly unequal. Many of the world's population hardly see a peep of these resources.

North America and Europe have by far the biggest material footprints on the planet. The UK is hugely dependent on other countries’ minerals, raw materials, water and land.

If everyone lived like the average US citizen, we'd need around 4 Earths to sustain ourselves – according to data produced by the Global Footprint Network.

Crowd of people walking along a pavement with shopping bags
A seagull picks a plastic crisp packet from the sea

Plastic pollution

Plastic sticks around in the environment for ages, threatening wildlife and spreading toxins. Plastic also contributes to climate breakdown...

Almost all plastics are made from chemicals that come from the production of planet-warming fuels (gas, oil and even coal).

Our reliance on plastic therefore prolongs our demand for these dirty fuels. Which is why we're working with other organisations to reduce plastic across all sectors, from supermarkets to stadiums.

A seagull picks a plastic crisp packet from the sea

Help stop plastics choking our oceans

End plastic pollution now

Green energy

We need to end our reliance on extractive fossil fuel industries.

Here in the UK, we've got colossal renewable energy resources like wind, wave and solar to help us lower our climate-changing emissions.

What's more, with the right investment by government, the transition to renewable energy could create thousands of jobs.

Man installing solar panel
Sustainable farming: Cows in a biodiverse field

Food and sustainable farming

Intensive farming is linked to loss of wildlife, soil and water pollution, and poor animal welfare.

We don't need factory farms, loads of chemicals or genetically modified seeds to feed a growing population. There are more climate-friendly ways to do things.

Sustainable farming: Cows in a biodiverse field

Resource consumption facts

10 times
more consumption by the richest countries than the poorest 
80 million rugby pitches
The amount of foreign land the UK depends on to support its annual consumption of agricultural and forestry products
One third
of all food produced across the globe is lost or wasted
20 tonnes
3 tonnes
(not even that) The average annual material consumption of an African