Consuming resources by improving existing consumption patterns to make them more efficient is not enough. The total consumption level must decrease, otherwise it can never be sustainable. This is the conclusion of a new study compiling the research field on sustainable consumption.

A sustainable level of consumption involves a scenario, which both respects the planetary boundaries and ensures that the entire global population can live a dignified life. However, finding and implementing a policy package that can lead to such a scenario, is a huge challenge.

This is shown in a new scientific article recently published by Professor Oksana Mont with senior lecturers Carl Dalhammar and Matthias Lehner at Lund University.

It is necessary to rethink completely
On the one hand, instruments that are easy to implement and meet little resistance often have a limited effect. On the other hand, designing a policy that it is both impactful and feasible is difficult too. Therefore, this article points out, it is important to completely rethink the system we take for granted.

– While consuming resources more efficiently fits neatly within the existing economic system, reducing consumption especially for the richest, questions the basic principles of it. Therefore, it becomes important to develop models for future societies based on the idea of economic degrowth, sufficiency and sustainable lifestyles, as well as societal transformation towards sustainability, says Oksana Mont.

Doesn’t mean decreased quality of life
Oksana also says that suffiency doesn’t have to mean decreased quality of life, but can be achieved through sharing and reusing things instead of buying. Other policy instruments mentioned in the article to decrease consumption is among others, income caps, policies for reduced working hours and taxes on luxury consumption.

Läs hela studien “Sustainable consumption through policy intervention—A review of research themes” här.

Oksana Mont, Professor in sustainable consumption governance, Lund University
Phone: +46 46 222 0250