Lifestyles define us; they are the way we live our lives, what we do, with whom, where, how and what we use to do it. This includes everything from the food we eat and how we interact with others to the way we get around. Lifestyles also define our identity; we express our social position, political preferences and psychological aspirations to others through our lifestyles. Creating sustainable lifestyles means rethinking our ways of living, how we buy, what we consume and how we organize our daily lives. It is about transforming our societies and living in balance with our natural environment. All our choices and actions - whether at home or at work - on energy use, transport, food, waste and communication – contribute to sustainable lifestyles.
For sustainable lifestyles to be part of our cultures and societies and become part of our everyday lives, they must be enabled and developed at all levels, through the social and technical systems and institutions that surround us. These include efficient infrastructures, services and products, such as efficient public transport systems, and by individual choices and actions to help minimize the use of natural resources, emissions, wastes and pollution while supporting equitable socio-economic development and conserving the Earth’s life support systems within the planet’s ecological carrying capacity. Governments have a role to play by creating appropriate frameworks and infrastructures to enable citizens to adopt more sustainable lifestyles. The business sector can help develop innovative solutions for sustainable lifestyles, while education and information are crucial to engage the citizens and youth on how to make sustainable lifestyle choices and consume better.
UNEP’s activities on sustainable lifestyles explore opportunities for the development of practices that enable individuals to adopt sustainable lifestyles, understanding peoples, particularly young peoples’, perceptions and visions of sustainable lifestyles and providing recommendations for the development of effective policies on sustainable lifestyles. With the support of the The Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Lifestyles, which was led by Sweden from 2005 to 2009, UNEP has implemented numerous projects to promote and examine sustainable lifestyles, including the Global Survey on Sustainable Lifestyles among other key projects.
Adopting more sustainable consumption patterns is the responsibility of all citizens. But for this shift to be effective and for individuals to adopt more sustainable lifestyles, the full participation of educated and motivated citizens is crucial.