Sustainable Consumption: Methodical Concepts and Case Studies
Over the past decades, environmental policy discussions tended to focus on the negative impact of production processes on the environment. Sustainable development as a subject and holistic approach became a scientific and political issue only at the Rio Earth Summit of 1992. Since then, consumer behaviour and lifestyles have been increasingly recognised as determining factors for sustainable development. Consumer structures influence production processes and they are responsible for the consumption of resources. Growing consumer demand not only places a burden on the environment since satisfying that demand means an increase in material and energy consumption, but it also leads to increasing amounts of waste. Considering the overall economic importance of private consumption, it is indispensable to change consumer structures if any sustainable development is to be achieved. The steps necessary to refocus consumption processes and the methodological framework of ecological-cum-economic information systems are discussed in the pertinent literature, but no quantitative treatment has yet been supplied. Analysing sustainability within the scope of private consumption opens up a wide area of research, in which a variety of approaches is used to study the far-reaching ecological (as well as social) effects of private consumption behaviour. Both in the theoretical literature as well as the studies that concentrate on implementation, the emphasis is on reorienting demand structures. When it comes to implementing economic structures which are viewed as compatible with sustainable development, the discourse has so far been mainly concentrated on the direction in which restructuring consumption patterns is desired: maintaining the present welfare level while reducing the flow of materials and sensitive substances.
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Volume (Year): 75 (2002)
Issue (Month): 7 (July)
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