Table of Contents

Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption

Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption

Edited by Lucia A. Reisch and John Thøgersen

This Handbook compiles the state of the art of current research on sustainable consumption from the world’s leading experts in the field. The implementation of sustainable consumption presents one of the greatest challenges and opportunities we are faced with today. On the one hand, consumption is a wanted and necessary phenomenon important for society and the economy. On the other, our means of consumption contradicts many important ecological and social long-term goals. Set against this background, the Handbook aims to offer an interdisciplinary overview of recent research on sustainable consumption, to draw attention to this subject and to encourage discussion and debate. In 27 chapters, leading authorities in the field provide their expertise in a concise and accessible manner.

Chapter 15: Consumer habits and sustainable consumption

Bas Verplanken and Deborah Roy

Subjects: economics and finance, behavioural and experimental economics, economic psychology, environment, ecological economics, environmental sociology


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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