When you ask people if sustainable consumption is a good thing, you can expect an overwhelmingly positive response. Yet, as this Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption makes clear, there is still a long way to go. And this may even be the optimistic view: most people show little interest in making truly sustainable choices, but rather follow their natural tendency to focus on short-term benefits and tangible outcomes, which more often than not do not contribute to a sustainable lifestyle. The content of the present volume is a testimony to the complexity and difficulty of sustainable consumption. While realizing that our focus only represents a thin slice of a much richer reality, this chapter focuses on individual consumers, and in particular on consumer habits and sustainability. We first address the question: what is meant by sustainable consumption? We then discuss the process of making sustainable choices, and define and position the concept of habit. Finally we turn to the important question of behaviour change and prospects for interventions to promote more sustainable lifestyles.
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