The term was coined by Canadian ecologists William E. Rees and Mathis Wackernagel in 1995. Ecological footprint measures how much fertile land is needed to support the level of consumption of an individual, an area or a country, and to absorb its waste. The ecological footprint shows the rate of humanity’s natural resource use, and also how many additional individuals our planet may adequately provide for. The units for ecological footprint are global hectares. Due to imprecise calculations, the model is being continuously revised, including more and more aspects in the process. The ecological footprint rate is rather approximate, symbolic so to say – its aim being an incentive to a more sustainable lifestyle and the change of consumption habits. According to the latest data, the average ecological footprint of Hungary is 3.7 hectares, while globally there are only 1.8 hectares of biologically productive land and sea area available per person. Currently the United States of America, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates have the highest ecological footprints of approx. 9 hectares, and the lowest number of 0.5 belongs to Mozambique, Nepal and Bangladesh.
The term means the consumption of goods and services produced in an ethical environment and distributed by ethical companies. Ethical business principles include providing the employees with fair working conditions and wages, the protection of the natural environment, being cruelty free, and respecting human rights. The purchasing choice of consumers has a direct impact on the market, thus besides principles, ethical consumerism has a considerable practical effect as well – ethical consumers may spur sustainable economic growth, and can directly support companies and businesses engaged in fair trade through their choices. Following this logic, consumers have the ability to boycott companies with behavior they deem unacceptable.
Anti-consumerism is a socio–political ideology opposed to consumerism that claims that economic growth is inevitable as an ever-expanding consumption of goods is advantageous to the economy and continual buying and consumption will bring happiness.
Anti-consumerist politics asks us as individuals to consider why we consume, what the benefits of acquiring goods are, and what impact it has on the world around us. Anti-consumerism insists that we change our habits and consume less. It is concerned with actions to take by business corporations in pursuit of their own financial and economic goals at the expense of public welfare, especially in order to contribute to environmental protection, social equality, and ethics in the governing of a society.
Anti-consumerist movements are not opposed to consumption per se, they rather seek alternatives to existing forms of consumer capitalism.