So why do we BUY so much? And if we agree that we need to consume less, how do we go about changing our behaviour (and that of others, if we are feeling God-like today)?
Here’s a report by Tim Jackson of the University of Surrey on motivating sustainable consumption. This focuses on the psychological drivers and dynamics of consumption and how we can motivate more sustainable behavior. But it also recognizes that individuals don’t live in a psychological bubble:
” Changing behaviours – and in particular motivating more sustainable behaviours – is far from straightforward. Individual behaviours are deeply embedded in social and institutional contexts. We are guided as much by what others around us say and do, and by the ‘rules of the game’ as we are by personal choice. We often find ourselves ‘locked in’ to unsustainable behaviours in spite of our own best intentions.”
In the UK, the Sustainable Consumption Institute at the University of Manchester explores the drivers and dynamics of consumption at the scale of the individual and beyond. Their website has a number of publications and updates on their work, and if this is a topic that interests you, you should keep your eye on them.
An open question, and a really important one, is how consumption patterns are developing in the ’emerging economies’ (India, China, Brazil and the so-called ‘CIVETS‘). How does this affect local, regional and global resources and resource management? Are the psychological and social dynamics the same across the world or are there important differences? (In short, is the study of ‘Sustainable Consumption’ currently too ‘Northcentric’? Is this is a problem considering that the emerging economies are really where consumer lifestyles are growing fast?)
To link this back and forward within the MEG: Can you see how this field relates to: (For example): World systems theory and Ecological Modernisation?
[Image: Eric Lewis]