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Special Issue "Sustainability and Consumption"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2011)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Jack Barkenbus (Website)

Vanderbilt Institute for Energy & Environment, USA
Phone: 615 343-1041
Fax: +615 322 7012
Interests: climate change; sustainable development; energy; clean technology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is clear that our current consumption patterns are producing environmental degradation that imperils future generations. More prudent resource consumption must replace over-consumption in the wealthier states and accompany growing consumption in the developing states. While these principles are widely-acknowledged, the path to a more sustainable future is still unclear. Low-carbon technologies, of course, have an important role to play; but they must be accompanied by resource consuming behaviours capable of sustaining a global population of 9 billion inhabitants in the year 2050.

This issue seeks manuscripts that highlight research at the intersection of consumption and sustainability. Multidisciplinary contributions are welcome ranging from a social-psychological perspective on individual behaviour change to a broader institutional approach. It is recognized that consumption occurs in a collective socio-cultural context, and policy tools designed to address contextual influences can be important. Articles dealing with consumption from a comparative perspective are especially welcome, revealing established habits and practices across states, as well as segmentation of the populace within states. The results of efforts to frame or transform consumption in new, more resource-conserving, ways, need highlighting as well, looking at how the media can be enlisted in the cause. Though earth-friendly lifestyles are not uncommon in any society, the challenge is to make such lifestyles palatable and attractive to the mainstream; this issue seeks to explore wide-ranging policy approaches that attempt to do so.

Dr. Jack Barkenbus
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • sustainable lifestyles
  • policy framing and policy tools
  • behavioural change
  • socio-psychological research
  • cultural change
  • resource conservation systems
  • comparative perspectives
  • market segmentation
  • behavioural economics

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle A Carbon Consumption Comparison of Rural and Urban Lifestyles
Sustainability 2011, 3(8), 1234-1249; doi:10.3390/su3081234
Received: 4 May 2011 / Revised: 23 July 2011 / Accepted: 8 August 2011 / Published: 16 August 2011
Cited by 20 | PDF Full-text (353 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Sustainable consumption has been addressed from different perspectives in numerous studies. Recently, urban structure-related lifestyle issues have gained more emphasis in the research as cities search for effective strategies to reduce their 80% share of the global carbon emissions. However, the prevailing [...] Read more.
Sustainable consumption has been addressed from different perspectives in numerous studies. Recently, urban structure-related lifestyle issues have gained more emphasis in the research as cities search for effective strategies to reduce their 80% share of the global carbon emissions. However, the prevailing belief often seen is that cities would be more sustainable in nature compared to surrounding suburban and rural areas. This paper will illustrate, by studying four different urban structure related lifestyles in Finland, that the situation might be reversed. Actually, substantially more carbon emissions seem to be caused on a per capita level in cities than in suburban and rural areas. This is mainly due to the higher income level in larger urban centers, but even housing-related emissions seem to favor less urbanized areas. The method of the study is a consumption-based life cycle assessment of carbon emissions. In more detail, a hybrid life cycle assessment (LCA) model, that is comprehensive in providing a full inventory and can accommodate process data, is utilized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
Open AccessArticle Behaviour Change in the UK Climate Debate: An Assessment of Responsibility, Agency and Political Dimensions
Sustainability 2011, 3(6), 789-808; doi:10.3390/su3060789
Received: 20 April 2011 / Revised: 16 May 2011 / Accepted: 23 May 2011 / Published: 7 June 2011
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (325 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper explores the politics around the role of agency in the UK climate change debate. Government interventions on the demand side of consumption have increasingly involved attempts to obtain greater traction with the values, attitudes and beliefs of citizens in relation [...] Read more.
This paper explores the politics around the role of agency in the UK climate change debate. Government interventions on the demand side of consumption have increasingly involved attempts to obtain greater traction with the values, attitudes and beliefs of citizens in relation to climate change and also in terms of influencing consumer behaviour at an individual level. With figures showing that approximately 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions are attributable to household and transport behaviour, policy initiatives have progressively focused on the facilitation of “sustainable behaviours”. Evidence suggests however, that mobilisation of pro-environmental attitudes in addressing the perceived “value-action gap” has so far had limited success. Research in this field suggests that there is a more significant and nuanced “gap” between context and behaviour; a relationship that perhaps provides a more adroit reflection of reasons why people do not necessarily react in the way that policy-makers anticipate. Tracing the development of the UK Government’s behaviour change agenda over the last decade, we posit that a core reason for the limitations of this programme relates to an excessively narrow focus on the individual. This has served to obscure some of the wider political and economic aspects of the debate in favour of a more simplified discussion. The second part of the paper reports findings from a series of focus groups exploring some of the wider political views that people hold around household energy habits, purchase and use of domestic appliances, and transport behaviour-and discusses these insights in relation to the literature on the agenda’s apparent limitations. The paper concludes by considering whether the aims of the Big Society approach (recently established by the UK’s Coalition Government) hold the potential to engage more directly with some of these issues or whether they merely constitute a “repackaging” of the individualism agenda. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
Open AccessArticle Combining Life Cycle Thinking with Social Theory: Case Study of Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) in the Philippines
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 2349-2364; doi:10.3390/su2072349
Received: 6 June 2010 / Revised: 30 June 2010 / Accepted: 14 July 2010 / Published: 22 July 2010
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (180 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Resource depletion remains central to human economic activity with resulting negative consequences for the local and global environment. Material and energy consumption patterns are also increasing globally, as developing countries follow the trail blazed by more industrialized countries. Consumers play a role [...] Read more.
Resource depletion remains central to human economic activity with resulting negative consequences for the local and global environment. Material and energy consumption patterns are also increasing globally, as developing countries follow the trail blazed by more industrialized countries. Consumers play a role in shifting towards more sustainable forms of consumption. However, consumer-oriented public-policy measures are often restricted to informational campaigns based on moral and price arguments. A multidisciplinary approach to sustainable consumption must go beyond this limited vision of consumers if transitions toward more environmentally friendly consumption patterns are to be made possible. Both a biophysical and social understanding of consumption is necessary. This paper proposes a systemic approach to consumption studies, combining an assessment of consumption patterns with an understanding of the drivers behind them. The concepts will be illustrated using a case study of the government-led promotion of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) in Metro Manila, the Philippines. Conclusions will include general policy-recommendations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
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Open AccessArticle Eco-Self-Build Housing Communities: Are They Feasible and Can They Lead to Sustainable and Low Carbon Lifestyles?
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 2084-2116; doi:10.3390/su2072084
Received: 11 June 2010 / Accepted: 22 June 2010 / Published: 12 July 2010
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (979 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper concerns how sustainable and low carbon living can be enabled in new housing developments in the UK. It is here recognized that consumption of energy and resources is not just what goes into the building, but also long-term through occupancy [...] Read more.
This paper concerns how sustainable and low carbon living can be enabled in new housing developments in the UK. It is here recognized that consumption of energy and resources is not just what goes into the building, but also long-term through occupancy and activities. Current approaches, which require housing developers to reduce the carbon emissions of the homes they build through a mixture of energy efficiency and renewable energy systems, do not sufficiently contribute to the carbon emission reductions which are necessary for meeting UK Government targets and to avoid dangerous climate change. Purchasing a home ties people in to not just direct consumption of energy (heating, hot water, electricity), but also effects other areas of consumption such as the embedded energy in the building and activities associated with the location and the type of development. Conventional business models for new housing development, operating under current government regulations, policies and targets have failed to develop housing which encourages the adoption of sustainable lifestyles taking whole life consumption into account. An alternative business model of eco-self-build communities is proposed as a way to foster desired behavior change. The feasibility of eco-self-build communities and their scope for supporting low carbon sustainable lifestyles is assessed through stakeholder interviews, and through quantitative assessment of costs, carbon emission reduction potential, and other sustainability impacts of technical and lifestyle options and their combinations. The research shows that eco-self-build communities are both feasible and have the ability to deliver low carbon lifestyles. In comparison to conventional approaches to building new housing, they have further advantages in terms of delivering wider social, environmental as well as economic sustainability objectives. If implemented correctly they could succeed in making sustainable lifestyles attractive, and foster the development of pro- environmental social norms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
Open AccessArticle Citizen-Consumers as Agents of Change in Globalizing Modernity: The Case of Sustainable Consumption
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 1887-1908; doi:10.3390/su2071887
Received: 21 May 2010 / Revised: 31 May 2010 / Accepted: 4 June 2010 / Published: 30 June 2010
Cited by 34 | PDF Full-text (247 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The roles that individuals can adopt, or get assigned, in processes of global environmental change, can be analyzed with the help of three ideal-type forms of commitment: as environmental citizens, as political consumers, and as individual moral agents. We offer a discussion [...] Read more.
The roles that individuals can adopt, or get assigned, in processes of global environmental change, can be analyzed with the help of three ideal-type forms of commitment: as environmental citizens, as political consumers, and as individual moral agents. We offer a discussion of the three roles in the context of sustainability changes in everyday life practices of consumption. Sociological accounts of (sustainability) transitions are discussed with respect to their treatment of the concept of agency vis à vis the objects, technologies, and infrastructures implied in globalizing consumption practices. Using consumption practices as basic units of analysis helps to avoid individualist and privatized accounts of the role of citizen-consumers in environmental change, while making possible a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between the personal and the planetary in the process of greening everyday life consumption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
Open AccessArticle From Consumerism to the Empowerment of Consumers: The Case of Consumer Oriented Movements in France
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 1849-1868; doi:10.3390/su2071849
Received: 19 May 2010 / Revised: 4 June 2010 / Accepted: 8 June 2010 / Published: 29 June 2010
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (229 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Political consumerism was developed during the 19th century and expanded at the turn of the century through social movements aimed at empowering civil society in the market. Many of these movements succeeded in building power on the consumption side. Today, we still [...] Read more.
Political consumerism was developed during the 19th century and expanded at the turn of the century through social movements aimed at empowering civil society in the market. Many of these movements succeeded in building power on the consumption side. Today, we still witness several forms of political consumerism. This contribution explores the possibilities and limits of consumer involvement in sustainable consumption. The main finding of this study of the political organization of consumers is that the market may not be the only arena for changing consumer behavior. Instead, social constraint and political empowerment seem to be rather more efficient. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
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Open AccessArticle Framing Devices in the Creation of Environmental Responsibility: A Qualitative Study from Sweden
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 1869-1886; doi:10.3390/su2071869
Received: 21 May 2010 / Revised: 3 June 2010 / Accepted: 8 June 2010 / Published: 29 June 2010
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (234 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The aim of this article is to analyze the relationship between identity work for environmental responsibility and sustainable development in relation to an ecological master frame. The material is based on a case study with Swedish householders and focusses on the interviewees [...] Read more.
The aim of this article is to analyze the relationship between identity work for environmental responsibility and sustainable development in relation to an ecological master frame. The material is based on a case study with Swedish householders and focusses on the interviewees identity work in relation to specific and detailed environmentally friendly activities. The argument put forth is that individuals construct what is possible and reasonable by identifying themselves in relation to the multitude of others and by doing certain activities. The conclusions suggest that the householders consider themselves to have a responsibility for the environment, but that they do enough by performing specific activities such as recycling. Thereby the study shows how the individuals present their own ideas and actions in relation to an ecological master frame. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
Open AccessArticle Contribution of Online Trading of Used Goods to Resource Efficiency: An Empirical Study of eBay Users
Sustainability 2010, 2(6), 1810-1830; doi:10.3390/su2061810
Received: 19 May 2010 / Revised: 10 June 2010 / Accepted: 14 June 2010 / Published: 23 June 2010
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (136 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper discusses the sustainability impact (contribution to sustainability, reduction of adverse environmental impacts) of online second-hand trading. A survey of eBay users shows that a relationship between the trading of used goods and the protection of natural resources is hardly realized. [...] Read more.
This paper discusses the sustainability impact (contribution to sustainability, reduction of adverse environmental impacts) of online second-hand trading. A survey of eBay users shows that a relationship between the trading of used goods and the protection of natural resources is hardly realized. Secondly, the environmental motivation and the willingness to act in a sustainable manner differ widely between groups of consumers. Given these results from a user perspective, the paper tries to find some objective hints of online second-hand trading’s environmental impact. The greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the energy used for the trading transactions seem to be considerably lower than the emissions due to the (avoided) production of new goods. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations for second-hand trade and consumer policy. Information about the sustainability benefits of purchasing second-hand goods should be included in general consumer information, and arguments for changes in behavior should be targeted to different groups of consumers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
Open AccessArticle Consumers’ Sustainability Perceptions of the Supply Chain of Locally Produced Food
Sustainability 2010, 2(6), 1492-1509; doi:10.3390/su2061492
Received: 13 April 2010 / Revised: 26 April 2010 / Accepted: 24 May 2010 / Published: 1 June 2010
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (216 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article is based on a qualitative focus group study regarding consumer perceptions about the sustainability of locally produced food supply chains. Sustainability perceptions were analyzed through thematic content analysis, where the most important economic, environmental and social themes of the supply [...] Read more.
This article is based on a qualitative focus group study regarding consumer perceptions about the sustainability of locally produced food supply chains. Sustainability perceptions were analyzed through thematic content analysis, where the most important economic, environmental and social themes of the supply chain were emphasized. According to the research findings, the socio-cultural aspects encompassing locally produced food form the most important sustainability dimension for consumers. Although the sample size is small, consisting of 19 consumers and limited to Central Finland, the findings suggest that the sustainability of local food should be promoted via socio-cultural arguments alongside economic or environmental ones. The results conclude that the development of local food networks requires direct personal relationships with producers, social networking, consumer education and communication. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
Open AccessArticle Beyond Abundance: Self-Interest Motives for Sustainable Consumption in Relation to Product Perception and Preferences
Sustainability 2010, 2(5), 1431-1447; doi:10.3390/su2051431
Received: 1 April 2010 / Revised: 15 May 2010 / Accepted: 21 May 2010 / Published: 25 May 2010
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (220 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper presents results of a study that examined the perceptions and preferences of identified “responsible, sustainable consumers” with respect to functional products. The study is part of a larger research program that looks at material cultures and product design in relation [...] Read more.
This paper presents results of a study that examined the perceptions and preferences of identified “responsible, sustainable consumers” with respect to functional products. The study is part of a larger research program that looks at material cultures and product design in relation to sustainable production and consumption. Based on empirical data gathered from among citizens attempting to follow sustainable lifestyles, the authors reflect on how the adoption of sustainable consumption patterns can not only be motivated by altruistic and environmental considerations, but also, significantly, by perceived personal benefits, including an expected increase in personal well-being. These motivations, together with how they unfold into preferences for particular product characteristics, are discussed. The paper concludes that the understanding of such motives, along with their implications for the ways in which products and services are conceived and positioned, may warrant further research as it can represent a key incentive for change towards a more sustainable future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
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Open AccessArticle Ecological Citizens: Identifying Values and Beliefs that Support Individual Environmental Responsibility among Swedes
Sustainability 2010, 2(4), 1055-1079; doi:10.3390/su2041055
Received: 21 February 2010 / Revised: 12 March 2010 / Accepted: 15 April 2010 / Published: 20 April 2010
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (354 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As it has been suggested that involvement of individuals in environmental work is necessary for halting environmental degradation, one focus for contemporary environmental policy and political theory is the need for comprehensive individual lifestyle changes. Ecological Citizenship (EC) has been suggested within [...] Read more.
As it has been suggested that involvement of individuals in environmental work is necessary for halting environmental degradation, one focus for contemporary environmental policy and political theory is the need for comprehensive individual lifestyle changes. Ecological Citizenship (EC) has been suggested within the field of political theory as an approach to realize personal responsibility for the environment. However, empirical research on whether EC can serve this purpose is still lacking. Based on a survey sent to 4,000 Swedish households, this paper makes the theory of EC empirically operational and explores whether, and to what extent, people in general hold values and beliefs in line with what is expected of EC, in order to shed light on the feasibility of cultivating ecological citizens in Sweden. The study concludes that a significant proportion of the respondents do demonstrate a value base consistent with EC, i.e., non-territorial altruism and the primacy of social justice. While additional tests and studies are needed, the results support the use of EC as a theoretical model for behavioral change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
Open AccessArticle Temporal Objects—Design, Change and Sustainability
Sustainability 2010, 2(3), 812-832; doi:10.3390/su2030812
Received: 3 February 2010 / Revised: 4 March 2010 / Accepted: 11 March 2010 / Published: 17 March 2010
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (360 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, design for change is explored as a means of contributing to socio-economic equity while minimising environmental damage. To create a material culture capable of accommodating technological progress and aesthetic development while also adhering to the principles of sustainability, it [...] Read more.
In this paper, design for change is explored as a means of contributing to socio-economic equity while minimising environmental damage. To create a material culture capable of accommodating technological progress and aesthetic development while also adhering to the principles of sustainability, it becomes important to recognise the potential role of design for change. This theme is explored here by considering design within an integrated strategy that includes mass- and local-scale manufacturing, service provision and re-manufacture. General design objectives are developed that provide a basis for generating ‘critical design’ concepts. Engagement in the process of designing requires a transmutation from generalisations to specific design decisions. This process enriches our understandings of design for change and the concepts presented here articulate the ideas via form, function, materials and aesthetics. In doing so, they provide tangible expressions of the strategic implications. These ‘temporal objects’, which in this case rely on a relatively stable technology, highlight the importance of localisation and more distributed forms of innovation. In addition, they clarify the designer’s role in developing useful things that are capable of being continually transformed through time, with continuous use of technological components and changing aesthetic components that, through creative employment of materials, have virtually no detrimental environmental impacts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Can New Perspectives on Sustainability Drive Lifestyles?
Sustainability 2010, 2(9), 2849-2872; doi:10.3390/su2092849
Received: 21 June 2010 / Accepted: 3 September 2010 / Published: 13 September 2010
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (372 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Understanding sustainability engages multiple views in a wide spectrum of technological, social and political positions. Over the last two decades it appears that an evolutionary process reflects a changing sustainability paradigm. At the basis of this changing paradigm remain strong principles of [...] Read more.
Understanding sustainability engages multiple views in a wide spectrum of technological, social and political positions. Over the last two decades it appears that an evolutionary process reflects a changing sustainability paradigm. At the basis of this changing paradigm remain strong principles of dematerialization, reflected in cuts in natural resource consumption, changing pathways to overcome lock-ins, mastering the art of economic innovation with ecological principles. This may engage new consumption attitudes and behavior. This review paper adopts a holistic and integrated sustainability perspective, suggesting a mix-and-match approach to engage more context specific designs for sustainability to look into principles of consumption behavior and people’s motivation in choosing their lifestyle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
Open AccessReview The Role of Formal and Informal Forces in Shaping Consumption and Implications for Sustainable Society: Part II
Sustainability 2010, 2(8), 2573-2592; doi:10.3390/su2082573
Received: 10 July 2010 / Accepted: 9 August 2010 / Published: 10 August 2010
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (246 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Looking at consumption from a societal perspective, we can see that purchasing and behavior decisions are influenced by many factors, not the least which are what the people around us and in the media are doing. Other factors include economic influences, the [...] Read more.
Looking at consumption from a societal perspective, we can see that purchasing and behavior decisions are influenced by many factors, not the least which are what the people around us and in the media are doing. Other factors include economic influences, the marketing of products and technological innovations, and regulations governing consumption. This article, Part II, argues that in order to understand consumption, we need to move beyond the dominant (economic) understanding of consumers and consumer behavior, and think about the origins of our preferences, needs, and desires. A thorough understanding of consumption is informed by the contributions of sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, and behavioral scientists, who study the socio-cultural, social, and psychological contexts in which consumer behavior is embedded. These disciplines offer rich and complex explanations of human behavior, which in turn illuminate the discussion on how consumer behavior can be made more sustainable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
Open AccessReview Discourses of Consumption in US-American Culture
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 2279-2301; doi:10.3390/su2072279
Received: 8 June 2010 / Revised: 23 June 2010 / Accepted: 12 July 2010 / Published: 20 July 2010
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (232 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper explores varieties and examples of discourses of consumption, focusing primarily on US-American cultural discourses. The international community has in recent years developed an extremely valuable body of literature examining strategies for facilitating sustainable consumption; economic ramifications of varying consumption behaviors; [...] Read more.
This paper explores varieties and examples of discourses of consumption, focusing primarily on US-American cultural discourses. The international community has in recent years developed an extremely valuable body of literature examining strategies for facilitating sustainable consumption; economic ramifications of varying consumption behaviors; attitudes and social structures that encourage or discourage sustainable consumption; approaches to consumption as a component of a sustainable or “green” lifestyle; and considerations of consumption practices in relation to inequities between North and South. The United States has made relatively few contributions to this body of literature thus far. But although the U.S. has not been one of the primary sources of academic literature on sustainable consumption, several types of discourses on consumption have become prominent in U.S. popular culture. These types of discourses include examinations of the moral status of consumption; investigations of the environmental or health consequences of modern consumption behaviors; explorations and critiques of green consumerism; and discourses that either construct or critique the commodification of the nonhuman world to produce objects for consumption. Throughout this paper I outline and offer examples of these strains of popular discourse, drawing on a newly-emerging body of U.S. literature and critically analyzing instances of discourse about sustainable consumption in film, television, internet, and print media. I conclude by examining new perspectives on sustainable coexistence that offer transformative possibilities for establishing relationships with the more-than-human world that are not based primarily on consumption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
Open AccessReview The Role of Formal and Informal Forces in Shaping Consumption and Implications for a Sustainable Society. Part I
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 2232-2252; doi:10.3390/su2072232
Received: 27 May 2010 / Revised: 17 June 2010 / Accepted: 7 July 2010 / Published: 16 July 2010
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (236 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Addressing climate change and the collapse of ecosystems without threatening the economy, while simultaneously improving the well-being of all people and ensuring social justice and equality, seems to be the largest challenge in the history of mankind. So far, all the efforts [...] Read more.
Addressing climate change and the collapse of ecosystems without threatening the economy, while simultaneously improving the well-being of all people and ensuring social justice and equality, seems to be the largest challenge in the history of mankind. So far, all the efforts to address growing environmental and human problems through technological solutions and policy measures have been largely outpaced by growing population and increasing consumption levels. Therefore, an understanding of the essential driving forces and complexities of consumption, and of how environmental impacts from rising consumption can be reduced, is becoming increasingly important. This understanding can be achieved by analyzing not only economic frameworks, political settings, business models, and technological innovations, but also social norms, psychological factors, and collective and individual decision-making processes. This article, Part I, provides a meta-analysis of the main political, economic, technological, and business drivers of contemporary consumption and offers a systematic discussion of the relevance of these factors for the instigation of change towards sustainable patterns and levels of consumption. The main conclusion from Part I and II is that a systems-thinking approach is required in order to understand how various political, technical, social, economic, and psychological drivers overlap and influence each other in creating our consumer society. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
Open AccessReview Consumption and Use of Non-Renewable Mineral and Energy Raw Materials from an Economic Geology Point of View
Sustainability 2010, 2(5), 1408-1430; doi:10.3390/su2051408
Received: 30 March 2010 / Revised: 5 May 2010 / Accepted: 12 May 2010 / Published: 20 May 2010
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (407 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We outline a path to sustainable development that would give future generations the chance to be as well-off as their predecessors without running out of natural resources, especially metals. To this end, we have to consider three key resources: (1) the geosphere [...] Read more.
We outline a path to sustainable development that would give future generations the chance to be as well-off as their predecessors without running out of natural resources, especially metals. To this end, we have to consider three key resources: (1) the geosphere or primary resources, (2) the technosphere or secondary resources, which can be recycled and (3) human ingenuity and creativity. We have two resource extremes: natural resources which are completely consumed (fossil fuels) versus natural resources (metals) which are wholly recyclable and can be used again. Metals survive use and are merely transferred from the geosphere to the technosphere. There will, however, always be a need for contributions from the geosphere to offset inevitable metal losses in the technosphere. But we do have a choice. We do not need raw materials as such, only the intrinsic property of a material that enables it to fulfil a function. At the time when consumption starts to level off, chances improve of obtaining most of the material for our industrial requirements from the technosphere. Then a favorable supply equilibrium can emerge. Essential conditions for taking advantage of this opportunity: affordable energy and ingenuity to find new solutions for functions, to optimize processes and to minimize losses in the technosphere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)

Other

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Open AccessDiscussion Limiting Size of Fish Fillets at the Center of the Plate Improves the Sustainability of Aquaculture Production
Sustainability 2011, 3(7), 957-964; doi:10.3390/su3070957
Received: 15 June 2011 / Accepted: 22 June 2011 / Published: 6 July 2011
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (311 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
North American dining customers like to have a singular large piece of protein in the center of the plate. When fish is the protein of choice, the portion size from many species is limited by the overall size of the fish. Therefore, [...] Read more.
North American dining customers like to have a singular large piece of protein in the center of the plate. When fish is the protein of choice, the portion size from many species is limited by the overall size of the fish. Therefore, for these species, the means to achieve a singular larger portion of “center of the plate” protein is to grow a larger animal. However, fish become less efficient in converting feed to protein as they age. A second option would be to provide two smaller fillets originating from younger, more efficient fish. Here, the sustainability ramifications of these two protein provisioning strategies (single large or two small fillets) are considered for three species of fish produced in aquaculture. Growth data for channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) produced in ponds, rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in raceways, and sablefish (Anoplopoma fimbria) in marine net pens, were modeled to assess the total biomass and overall food conversion ratio for the production of small, medium or large fish. The production of small fish added an additional 50% or more biomass per year for trout, catfish, and sablefish compared to the production of large fish. Feed conversion ratios were also improved by nearly 10% for the smaller compared to larger fish of each species. Thus, even though all of these species tend to be considered aquaculture species of low environmental impact (and hence “green” or sustainable options), the product form requested by retailers and served by chefs can further increase the sustainability of these species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Consumption)
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