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Sustainable Development Goal 12

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Human consumption of material goods is expanding at a breakneck pace, draining Earth’s resources and degrading our environment. The world cannot improve resource efficiency, reduce waste or mainstream sustainability practices without a fundamental shift in consumption and production patterns.

Promoting sustainable production and consumption is a core mission of WRI. We support a transition from a traditional, linear economy (production > consumption > disposal) to a circular economy (production > consumption > reuse), as well as enhanced energy efficiency in production systems (SDG 12.2). Our 2017 working paper, “Elephant in the Boardroom,” which illustrates why unchecked consumption is not an option in tomorrow’s markets, has sparked fresh thinking on this issue in Fortune 500 company board rooms and C-suites. We are helping companies explore and evaluate alternative models to serve customers without traditional consumption in a forthcoming report on the apparel sector.

Our Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) drives public-private action and collaboration on the circular economy (SDG 12.6). Other work relevant to Goal 12 includes: the Building Efficiency Accelerator, a public-private collaboration that helps local governments implement building efficiency policies and programs (SDG 12.2), Champions 12.3, which is working to slash food loss and waste (SDG 12.3), and the Better Buying Lab, which is applying marketing techniques to shift consumer preferences to plant-based foods that are healthier and have a smaller environmental footprint.

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Daniel Vennard, director of the Better Buying Lab in WRI's Food Program, discusses the link between his work and social marketing, how your brain models taste while you're ordering and why "vegetarian" and "vegan" might not be the language that shifts the majority of the population to more sustainable diets.


For two years, World Resources Institute’s Better Buying Lab has taken an in-depth look at what works and what doesn’t when it comes to describing plant-rich foods in a way that appeals to broad swaths of the United States and British populations. Our early findings identify four kinds of language to avoid and three to embrace to help restaurants and the food industry boost sales of plant-rich menu items.

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