Less is more

Less is more. So said the ever-stylist Coco Chanel, so who could argue? But her philosophy applies to more than just  clothes…

The over-consumption of resources is at the heart of the sustainability challenge facing the planet. Yet we all have the power to use resources in better, more efficient ways.

Here are some top tips for being a more efficient consumer whilst at work:

  • Watch what you buy – Look for the most sustainable good or service at every opportunity. Not only are these likely to offer better value for money, it also sends a clear message to the market that sustainability is good.
  • Use less – Be careful how you use resources. Print on both sides of the paper. Choose products with less packaging. Re-use materials as much as you can. Avoid producing or using unnecessary stuff.
  • Recycle – Make sure you recycle any materials that you can. Opportunities for recycling will vary from office to office, country to country, so find out what’s going on in your area and get involved.

More sustainable consumption can result in more than an inner glow. It can lead to significant cost savings and often to more innovative approaches to work.

Many UN organizations are working hard to improve the sustainability of their procurement practices. You can see some examples on the case studies page.

Have you got any examples of ways in which you and your colleagues have improved the efficiency of your resource consumption? Or any ideas on how the UN could be better in this area? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.

Down to Earth     Switch it Off     Bon Appetit     Green Champions

Did You Know?

  • During the 20th century, global materials use increased eight-fold (UNEP Year Book, 2010)
  • Presently, production of internationally traded goods, vital to economic growth, accounts for approximately 30% of global CO2 emissions…The mining sector accounts for 7% of the world’s energy use, an amount projected to increase... Agricultural production accounts for 70% of the global freshwater consumption, 38% of total land use, and 14% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. (Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production, 2010)

Additional Materials


PaperSmart  is an initiative of the Integrated Sustainable PaperSmart Services (ISPS) Secretariat, Meetings and Publishing Division, Department for General Assembly and Conference Management.  It provides meeting information using a range of media, all designed to improve sustainability, efficiency, accessibility and knowledge management.


Assessing the Environmental Impacts of Consumption and Production (2010) This report, tries to assess the best-available science from a global perspective to identify priorities among industry sectors, consumption categories and materials. It supports international, national and sectoral efforts on sustainable consumption and production by highlighting where attention is really needed.

Marrakech Process: 3rd Public Draft (2009) The Marrakech Process is a global process to support the development of a 10-Year Framework of Programs (10FYP) on sustainable consumption and production, as called for by the WSSD Johannesburg Plan of Action. Click here, to visit the website.

Sustainable Consumption & Production: Promoting Climate-Friendly Housing Consumption Patterns (2007) The present paper focuses on the patterns and trends in energy consumption by households, the climate change impact of those patterns and trends, and policies and measures by which consumption patterns can be changed to promote sustainable development.



Not Another Nature Film from WWF on Vimeo.