Consumption and Waste

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Module description

Have you ever considered what the number one cause of waste is? It is our consumption of resources. In fact, humans are the only species that pollute the planet. The amount of waste produced annually, globally, is growing and is projected to grow 70% by 2050 from current volumes, according to the World BankHowever, things are starting to change, and movements like the Circular Economybackyard composting, ‘zero packaging’ and ‘Zero Waste’ are opening up refreshing new modes of relating to waste and to consumption in our economy. 

This module aims to expand your knowledge of the relationship between consumption and waste; the growing pollution problems caused by an increasing waste load on the planet; and how to reduce personal consumption and habits that create waste at home and at work 

Learners will be introduced to the following waste and consumption related topics:  

  • A brief overview of the world of consumption and waste from a global perspective;  
  • How to reduce consumption in the first place;  
  • Good waste segregation habits (i.e. how to recycle properly);  
  • An introduction to sometimes confusing labels, such as ‘biodegradable’, ‘post-consumer recycled’ ‘recyclable’ and ‘compostable’;  
  • The Zero Waste concept and what that involves. 

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of this programme, learners will be able to: 

  • Recognise the relationship between consumption and waste; 
  • Explain basic waste terminology to others; 
  • Describe the Zero Waste concept; 
  • Demonstrate preferable consumption habits to minimise impact to the environment; 
  • Evaluate the nature of various wastes and apply this knowledge to reducing waste in the home or on campus. 

Module teaching staff


Name: Michele Hallahan  

Position: Sustainability Advisor to the Office of the Provost 

Background: Michele has worked in the fields of ecological design, environmental management and sustainability consulting for over twenty years. She co-wrote the book ‘Source – A Social Environmental and Holistic Directory’ (2000) and created Ireland’s first Green Map™ of the Temple Bar area. She is a lead certification auditor for international environmental standard ISO 14001 and has certified Fortune 100 businesses in the USA and Ireland to this standard. She is a certified Permaculture Designer. She is the Sustainability Advisor to the Office of the Provost at Trinity College, Dublin and has taught at the Climate KIC Summer School and on the MSc in Environmental Engineering (on the topic of waste) and has contributed to the Tangent/ Climate KIC annual sustainability hackathons. 

Interests: Zero Waste, backgarden composting, environmental sustainability, upcycling. 

To begin the module, click on "Consumption and Waste: Unit 1 - Check your knowledge" below.