I think the first order of business for moving the Global South towards sustainability is to reduce population growth. The key to this is increased education and access to birth control. In the Global North, especially the U.S., certain sustainable practices are starting to catch on such as the use of hybrid cars and the practice of organic farming. In my opinion, these are two sustainable initiatives that have not compromised our standard of living and aim to consume less fossil fuels and reduce waste and pollution. However, we still have a lot more progress to make in moving away from the consumer culture we love to hate and hate to love, which emphasizes any and all things “new.”
In my opinion, the solution to moving away from our consumer culture is through ecological modernization, which argues for economic growth without environmental degradation. After all, the human-constructed economy will only be sustained as long as the environment remains habitual for humans. I do think increased “green” consumption or collaborative consumption can help move us in the right direction towards consuming less. But, to make a difference, incentives such as tax breaks need to be provided to encourage people to act cooperatively and increase social welfare. If those forms of collective action succeed, perhaps people will go a step further and start voting with their dollars in preferring to invest in and support more sustainable products. Maybe then, the giant corporations whose sole purposes are to get people to buy new clothes every season, new cars every year, and a new phone every 6 months will finally start to lose their political clout and power over consumers.