What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs or Global Goals) were agreed by all countries in the world, the United Nations, in 2015 as a way of tackling poverty, climate change and inequality across the whole world. The aim is to make the world a fairer, safer, cleaner and healthier place to live in no matter where you live.

How do the Sustainable Development Goals link to waste?

Goal 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production

Goal 12 is about creating a Circular Economy. This means reducing our waste, reusing things we already have and recycling as much as possible to prevent as much waste as we can from going to landfill.

Over the years our demand for goods (or stuff, like phones, clothes, hoverboards) has gone up and the global material footprint increased by 70% between 2000 and 2017. This means we used more materials like plastic, metal, wood to make all the stuff we want to buy.  For example, 1 million plastic drinking bottles are purchased around the world every minute.  Even worse than buying the items is throwing them away, 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are thrown away each year.

Our waste also relates to the sustainable development goals in other ways such as contributing to climate change (Goal 13: Climate Action),  and when our litter enters the natural environment either below water (Goal 14: Life Below Water) or on land (Goal 15: Life on Land).

What can we do?

Reduce how much you buy whether that is phones, tablets, game consoles, plastic toys, clothes. Challenge yourself, family, or friends to buy nothing new for a week, a month or even a year!

Reuse whatever you can for as often as you can, use refillable items, think about what you already own before buying something new. Could you sew up an old t-shirt? Could you make something new out of something old? Have a look online for some zero-waste ideas!

Recycle as much as you can. For example put into the food waste collection. Our kerbside recycling is really good at collecting and recycling materials so they can be turned into new stuff. Check you know the details of your local collection.

Speak up – Tell your friends and family about the sustainable development goals and see what you can do together.


There are some excellent resources available to teach about the SDGs and to incorporate them into education and school life. To find out more visit the UN Sustainable Development Goals website and the BBC bitesize page.

Sustainable Development Goals Book Club – SDG Book Club – United Nations Sustainable Development

Aworld in Support of ActNow’ This app gives daily tips to help you live more sustainably, as well as challenges, events, stories, advice on sustainable habits, your own personal impact tracker and more.