At What Cost? – The impacts of advertising and consumerism on human, community and planetary well-being

How to use international law to challenge human rights violations and climate impacts, caused by excessive consumption and advertising.

(Elizabeth Harrop, ASP Director, Consultant in Policy, Research & Writing: International Human Rights Advocacy, Environmental Protection and SocialChange.

This comprehensive advocacy tool reveals how advertising promotes excessive and unhealthy consumption, indirectly causes climate and ecological degradation, and directly and indirectly impacts human rights. Furthermore, it highlights how environmental impacts are closely linked to human rights impacts.

The report tackles the big problems with advertising using the framework of international human rights law, bringing together evidence on the multiple rights violations perpetrated by advertising and associated excessive consumption. It highlights how advertising stops us caring about human rights and the environment by promoting unhealthy consumption of stuff-we-don’t-need which indirectly causes climate and ecological degradation, and directly and indirectly impacts on people’s rights.

The report also highlights a currently missed opportunity – using the international human rights framework to advocate against advertising and consumerism. Multiple articles in human rights treaties provide protection to children and adults against the harms from advertising. These can be leveraged to challenge advertising and its threats to human and environmental well-being and prosperity. 

This is an extensive guide for campaigners, policymakers, academics, grassroots organisations and all those concerned with upholding human rights and environmental protection.

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Find out more about the articles in international human rights law that provide protection against the harms from advertising and which can be used to challenge unethical advertising and consumerism.

Find out more about some of the initiatives that aim to reframe people and communities as rights-holding citizens, not just economy-supporting consumers, and to protect and reclaim the environment.

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