The Challenge

Consumerism is the cycle of producing, buying and throwing away ‘things’. Their production, transport and disposal uses up a huge amount of our planet’s resources. Industry as a whole is responsible for 32% of global greenhouse gas emissions and creates high levels of pollution.

Every year we throw away over 2 billion tons of stuff. Loaded onto a convoy of trucks, this would encircle the world 24 times! These things are barely used before we throw them away.

We need to move away from consumerism towards a circular economy. This is a way of producing and consuming which involves sharing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products for as long as possible.

© Share Shed

Our Future Vision

We swap, we make, we repair, we share. We exchange skills and things with neighbours and friends.

Things that were previously made to break after five years now last a lifetime before being handed on to the next generation. The things we do buy are made using sustainable materials and in environmentally friendly ways.

Everything is now designed and made so it can also be fixed or recycled. We consciously minimise waste. We use libraries, we buy second hand, we declutter, we choose ethical consumerism. We are proud of the things we make and of our resourcefulness in maintaining, repairing and up-cycling the things we need.

How we can all make a difference


  • Borrow, don’t buy: share with friends and neighbours.
  • Learn to repair or take things along to your local repair shop.
  • If you can’t borrow or repair, buy second-hand.


  • Organise a Sharing Shelf, a Community Fridge, or a Clothes Swap on your street.
  • Do a skills audit in the community to see who has skills they’d like to pass on, and then host regular skill shares.
  • Create a WhatsApp group on your street to share tools and other equipment.


  • Remove VAT on goods that are fully repairable.
  • End the export of toxic waste to poorer nations.
  • Make all plastic packaging fully biodegradable by 2024.

Celebrating Local Heroes

Useful Resources

This section includes videos and downloadable leaflets that you might find helpful to inspire your personal climate actions. Please note, Totnes Climate Hub does not take responsibility for any of the content provided in these resources.