Developing technology, raising the living standards of the population in Europe and the world inevitably leads to increased use of goods, food, clothing, furnishings, transport, construction, etc. Concentration of the population in large cities also leads to a concentration of consumption of products and services, which is also a prerequisite for higher transport costs. Growth and business development is based on increased energy and labor resources. But on the other hand, much of the used goods that are discarded in practice is spent about 10% of the input. For example, a tire is discarded after 5 years of use, but in practice the tread is lost, which is less than 5% of the input material. Or single packs of food that are then disposed of immediately after consumption. Many other examples can be mentioned, such as construction of buildings, furniture, home appliances, and more. All this, once used, is thrown into the landfill, which creates two problems – it pollutes the environment and exhausts valuable natural resources that are often harvested by polluting the environment. This problem is extremely complicated, and many institutions have dealt with it. Separate waste collection is regulated, recycling of disused tires, cars, household appliances, etc. has to be ensured. The purchase of energy-efficient appliances, etc., is encouraged.
But on the other hand, the main driver of the economy is consumption. Ie. on the one hand, consumption is encouraged, but on the other hand consumption is the main environmental problem. One of the solutions of this proud knot is the promotion of so-called responsible consumption. There is no exact definition of “responsible consumption”. Typically, this phrase is associated with alcohol consumption, ie. everyone should know the measure and not fall into an inappropriate state. If we convey the analogy, we can say that “responsible consumption” means consuming products and services as much as we need to satisfy our own needs. But this contradicts the desire of people to possess many things, clothes and other goods, of which although they need no desire for them for loose ends. This is particularly typical for the countries of Eastern Europe and especially for Bulgaria.
For example, almost no one in Bulgaria can understand why one of the richest people in Europe, Ingvar Kamprad is driving an old Volvo. There are other examples like Warren Buffett, Norwegian billionaire Olaf Ton and others. The task of changing habits and responsible consumption is in fact a task to change the mentality and value system of people. This is also implied by the above-mentioned examples that want to remain in the history of how much wealth they have given and put into various training programs, environmental projects, research, and more. At present, a prosperous person in Bulgaria is considered a person who has accumulated a wealth of possessions, cars and properties. This change is clearly a difficult task, but not impossible. Given that in Western Europe they had a similar value system in the 1980s.
Similar examples may also be given by Bulgaria, but are from the beginning of the 19th century. For example, the Sofia University, the theater in Varna, numerous churches and others were built with donations. The positive change I think should start with people who are leaders and can influence public opinion. At present only some athletes who organize and give personal means for socially significant activities are noticed. Probably their stay abroad is one of the reasons.
The process of responsible consumption can be determined to have started in Bulgaria, but there is still a long way to go. Which means there are many opportunities to work on the subject.
The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author, and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of ALDA and the European Union.