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Can eco-footprinting analysis be used successfully to encourage more sustainable behaviour at the household level?


  • Marcus Sutcliffe

    (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)

  • Paul Hooper

    (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)

  • Ros Howell

    (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)


The human family is currently on an unsustainable development path, which is likely to lead to a full blown environmental crisis. Humanity is overshooting nature's carrying capacity by over 20%. In the absence of politically applied environmental limits to growth, some authors believe the solution to environmental sustainability has to include a bottom-up approach, whereby individuals are encouraged to take action to reduce their own environmental impact. One factor that has limited the potential to develop this approach to date has been the inability to measurably personalize the link between global unsustainable consumption and individual lifestyles. Ecological footprinting analysis (EFA) has the potential to bridge this gap. EFA aggregates a range of individual consumption and waste components and converts them into the bioproductive land area required to support this activity. This empirical pilot study tests whether there is scope to utilize EFA at the household level to see whether it can be used to encourage changes in behaviour towards less resource intensive lifestyles. The results support this hypothesis in that all participating households took some action to reduce their ecological footprints. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcus Sutcliffe & Paul Hooper & Ros Howell, 2008. "Can eco-footprinting analysis be used successfully to encourage more sustainable behaviour at the household level?," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 1-16.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:16:y:2008:i:1:p:1-16
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.327

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Farley, Joshua & Costanza, Robert, 2002. "Envisioning shared goals for humanity: a detailed, shared vision of a sustainable and desirable USA in 2100," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2-3), pages 245-259, December.
    2. Tisdell, Clem, 2001. "Globalisation and sustainability: environmental Kuznets curve and the WTO," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 185-196, November.
    3. Jari Kaivo-oja, 1999. "Alternative scenarios of social development: is analytical sustainability policy analysis possible? How?," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(3), pages 140-150.
    4. Ferguson, Andrew R. B., 2001. "Comments on eco-footprinting," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 1-2, April.
    5. Gerbens-Leenes, P. W. & Nonhebel, S., 2002. "Consumption patterns and their effects on land required for food," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 185-199, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. William Young & Kumju Hwang & Seonaidh McDonald & Caroline J. Oates, 2010. "Sustainable consumption: green consumer behaviour when purchasing products," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(1), pages 20-31.
    2. van Dam, Ynte K. & van Trijp, Hans C.M., 2011. "Cognitive and motivational structure of sustainability," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 726-741.
    3. Gu, Qiwei & Wang, Hongqi & Zheng, Yinan & Zhu, Jingwen & Li, Xiaoke, 2015. "Ecological footprint analysis for urban agglomeration sustainability in the middle stream of the Yangtze River," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 318(C), pages 86-99.
    4. Edeltraud Haselsteiner & Barbara Smetschka & Alexander Remesch & Veronika Gaube, 2015. "Time-Use Patterns and Sustainable Urban Form: A Case Study to Explore Potential Links," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(6), pages 1-29, June.

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