Life Cycle Assessment and Why it Matters to Youadmin
Life cycle assessment or LCA is a way to measure the impact of a product, good, or service. It takes into account every step in the life of a product, from gathering raw materials, to creation, to production, to distribution, and eventually to the consumer. In short, LCA measures the environmental impact of a product from cradle to grave. This method is not only used to create data about the product but also to assist companies in making ethical decisions about the production and distribution of a product.
There are multiple factors that contribute to the LCA of a good or service. From the materials, energy, water, and time production uses, to how long a product stays on the shelves, to the time that passes after being purchased before being thrown away. This last factor is in the hands of the consumer. Consumers have the power to control and lengthen the life cycle of a product namely by reusing the packaging for other household goods. If the product comes in a glass container, the LCA of that product can be infinite. However, when it comes in flimsy, hard-to-recycle plastic, it may harm the Earth more than it helps the company or the consumer.
LCA is predominantly an environmental matter, as much of sustainable development lies in the hands of mid to large-scale companies. With the help of government enforcement and corporate social responsibility, any company can make adjustments to the LCA of a good or service. This can be done by replacing what’s used. For example, Google has officially become carbon neutral by replacing all of its energy sources with renewables. Although adhering to sustainable LCA practices can create additional necessary planning and responsibility to the shoulders of a corporation, it also increases the goodwill of the company, gaining them consumer respect and brand confidence.
As consumers, extending the life cycle of a product is powerful. We control what does and doesn’t end up in landfills as well as how much ends up in landfills. Conscious consumption is a great way to begin this journey to make a big difference. Look for companies that recycle and reuse their materials for production. Look for local products that didn’t travel too far to arrive at their final destination. Lastly, look for products in easily recyclable, compostable, or reusable containers. With all this in mind when you go to the store, you cast your vote for a sustainable future.