Edited by Lucia A. Reisch and John Thøgersen
Chapter 8: Life cycle assessment as a means to identify the most effective action for sustainable consumption
What kind of responses would you get if you took a poll to the streets asking people what actions they should take to reduce the environmental burden of their lifestyle? It is likely that common replies would involve installing energy-efficient light bulbs and water-efficient shower heads, switching to reusable shopping bags, driving electric cars and so on. But how much, if at all, do these individual actions actually contribute? The sustainable society, though hardly controversial as a vision for the global community, is as challenging as it is ambitious, and it does not help that sustainability is intrinsically hard to measure. One challenge for consumers is the plethora of information they are exposed to from media, official agencies, commercial actors, friends and family. Even for those who are motivated to do so, changing behaviour on environmental grounds takes cognitive effort, which consumers economize (Stern et al. 2010). As such, it is in the interest of all parties that those behaviour changes that are successfully introduced to the public carry as much weight for the environment as possible.
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