Understanding the Car as a Natural System
Chapter 9: Consumers: SCP and sustainable car use; learning to love your car
The concept of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) is attracting the interest of government and industry in the context of moves towards more sustainable societies. Industry is clearly a key player in this. Although it has traditionally blamed consumers for unsustainable product choices, this view was discredited by Hart (1997), who put the responsibility firmly back in industry's court. At the same time, it is hard to deny that consumers share some responsibility and that the relationship consumers have with products and the role these play in their lifestyle is a key issue in SCP, something already raised several times throughout this book, particularly in Chapter 8. In this chapter I will explore to what extent making cars last longer would enhance their sustainability and, if so, how we could go about achieving this, or 'selling' this idea to consumers. Cooper (2005: 62) argues that as sustainable consumption needs products to last longer, owners have to develop greater attachment to their possessions and no longer update them as soon as newer versions appear. But, as we have seen, others, such as Hart (1997), argue that producers have a role to play here as well; this is the key notion of SCP: that the supply side and the demand side are interlinked and mutually dependent and that both, therefore, need to be tackled together.
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