Category Archives: sustainable consumption

Individual Actions Just Don’t Add Up to Environmental Change

"The bottom line is that green shopping, even when practiced by millions of people, just doesn’t add up to enough to affect the system. Sociologists call this the behavior-impact gap.." (Source: NY Times)

Excellent contribution by Annie Leonard ("The Sory of Stuff") to an interesting NY Times debate on sustainability, green consumption and system change.

Our real source of power to make a difference is through changing the polices and structures in which production and consumption happen, and we do that through civic engagement, not better shopping. So shop responsibly. Just be sure that’s where you start, not where you stop. “

New report: Sustainable ways of living are SPREADing across Europe

“New report finds that a growing number of people across Europe are changing the ways in which they live, move, and consume in exchange for higher quality, less impact on the environment, and that saves money.”  

This report (“Sustainable Lifestyles: Today’s Facts & Tomorrow’s Trends”) published by the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) is the outcome of a  research project financed by the EU Commission called SPREAD Sustainable Lifestyles 2050

Unfortunately a lot of the great work done in such EU research projects remains totally invisible to the media and policymakers as the academics leading the research consortia as well as the project leaders in the Commission seem to be incapable of communicating the results of their work in an efficient way.

New WEF report sees urgent need for sustainable consumption revolution

A new report by the World Economic Forum makes the case for an emergency transformation to sustainable consumption in a resource-constrained world. 

The report "More with less: scaling sustainable consumption and resource efficiency" is an absolute must-read.  

Read the full report and the executive summary.

More about this report on this blog from tomorrow. Read already Simon Zadek’s evaluation: “Sustainability’s Cinderella – Us!”.

3 Must-Have Apps for a Sustainable 2012

2012 is not going to be easy. But these apps will help you navigate the likely turbulence of the next 12 months.”   (Source:

Sally Uren of the UK’s Forum for the Future presents 3 sustainability trends for 2012: rethink capitalism, get serious about collaborative consumption and take sustainability to the consumer. Interesting read.

From Conspicuous Consumption to Collective Consumption

In the Social Europe Journal, Nat O’Connor looks at the challenge of sustainable consumption for social-democrat politicians and trade union leaders.  

He rightly questions "three ‘sacred cows’ of traditional social democratic economic policy that may need to be genetically modified to become sustainable":

“1. Achieving full employment through GDP growth is probably impossible in a resource-constrained world. Therefore, new mechanisms must be explored to make this possible, including properly rewarding work in the home by parents and carers, and using the voluntary sector as a source of meaningful, socially useful activity for people who are currently unemployed.

2. The role of trade unions in protecting workers and their jobs is vital, but they too need to accept that some forms of unsustainable employment have to come to an end. It will be very challenging for trade unions to explain this to their members; who are also often social democratic voters. Strong social welfare systems and state intervention to foster alternative sources of employment will be essential for this transition to occur.

3. The post-second world war consensus of a high level of material consumption by everyone in society is probably impossible in a resource-constrained world. Therefore promoting more efficient forms of consumption (e.g. digital goods versus material goods; collective consumption) should be a priority in a reorganised economy.”

The New Story of Stuff: Can We Consume Less?

“A new study finds that Britons are consuming less than they did a decade ago, with similar patterns being seen across Europe. Could this be the beginning of a trend in developed countries? Might we be reaching “peak stuff”?” 

 Interesting article in the Yale Environment360 blog: are we witnessing a decline in resource use in developed countries?

The article by science journalist Fred Pearce is based on a research paper by UK environmentalist Chris Goodall called “Peak Stuff”.

See also George Monbiot’s analysis of the Peak stuff study.

Why does every person need 200kg of steel a year?

BBC News has this provocative article on the raw materials and resources we use in our global economy. The boring statistics of how much stuff we need are translated into an understandable but disturbing metaphor.

The article is based on the free online book “Sustainable Materials with both eyes open” produced by Dr Julian Allwood and colleagues at Cambridge University,

HP number 1 in Greenpace Guide to Greener Electronics

Greenpeace 2011 Guide to greener electronics is out. It ranks leading mobile phone, TV and PC manufacturers on policies and practices to reduce their impact on the climate, produce greener products, and make their operations more sustainable.

HP takes top spot, closely followed by Dell.


Why is our consumption falling?

Via Scoop.itThe Great Transition

Everyone believes that consumption is out of control. But is it? From food to paper and water, Britain has gradually been guzzling less over the last decade. Why?

Exciting article in the Guardian: has the UK reached "peak stuff" and do we see the first signs of real decoupling between economic growth and resource use? Chris Goodall, Tim Jackson and Andrew Simms take on the debate.

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Sustainability alerts 16 July 2009


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