Live better by consuming less? Is there a "double dividend" in sustainable consumption?

  • Jackson T
  • 355

    Readers

    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 184

    Citations

    Citations of this article.

Abstract

Industrial ecology has mainly been concerned with improving the efficiency of production systems. But addressing consumption is also vital in reducing the impact of society on its environment. The concept of sustainable consumption is a response to this. But the debates about sustainable consumption can only really be understood in the context of much wider and deeper debates about consumption and about consumer behavior itself. This article explores some of these wider debates. In particular, it draws attention to a fundamental disagreement that runs through the literature on consumption and haunts the debate on sustainable consumption: the question of whether, or to what extent, consumption can be taken as ‘‘good for us.’’ Some approaches assume that increasing consumption is more or less synonymous with improved well-being: the more we consume the better off we are. Others argue, just as vehemently, that the scale of consumption in modern society is both environmentally and psychologically damaging, and that we could reduce consumption significantly without threatening the quality of our lives. This second viewpoint suggests that a kind of ‘‘double dividend’’ is inherent in sustainable consumption: the ability to live better by consuming less and reduce our impact on the environment in the process. In the final analysis, this article argues, such ‘‘win-win’’ solutions may exist but will require a concerted societal effort to realize.

Author-supplied keywords

  • consumer behavior
  • consumer choice
  • consumer culture
  • evolutionary psychology
  • industrial ecology
  • symbolic interactionism

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document

Get full text

Authors

  • Tim Jackson

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free