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Unformatted text preview: STATE OF THE DEBATE Live Better by Consuming Less? Is There a Double Dividend in Sustainable Consumption? Tim Jackson Summary Industrial ecology has mainly been concerned with improving the efficiency of production systems. But addressing consump- tion is also vital in reducing the impact of society on its environ- ment. The concept of sustainable consumption is a response to this. But the debates about sustainable consumption can only really be understood in the context of much wider and deeper debates about consumption and about consumer behavior it- self. This article explores some of these wider debates. In par- ticular, it draws attention to a fundamental disagreement that runs through the literature on consumption and haunts the debate on sustainable consumption: the question of whether, or to what extent, consumption can be taken as good for us. Some approaches assume that increasing consumption is more or less synonymous with improved well-being: the more we consume the better off we are. Others argue, just as ve- hemently, that the scale of consumption in modern society is both environmentally and psychologically damaging, and that we could reduce consumption significantly without threaten- ing the quality of our lives. This second viewpoint suggests that a kind of double dividend is inherent in sustainable consump- tion: the ability to live better by consuming less and reduce our impact on the environment in the process. In the final analysis, this article argues, such win-win solutions may exist but will require a concerted societal effort to realize. Keywords consumer behavior consumer choice consumer culture evolutionary psychology industrial ecology symbolic interactionism Address correspondence to: Prof. Tim Jackson Centre for Environmental Strategy University of Surrey Guildford GU2 7XH United Kingdom <firstname.lastname@example.org> <www.surrey.ac.uk/eng/scripts/staff.pl?name=JacksonT> 2005 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University Volume 9, Number 12 http://mitpress.mit.edu/jie Journal of Industrial Ecology 19 STATE OF THE DEBATE Industrial Ecology and Consumption Over the past decade or so, industrial ecol- ogy has successfully focused attention on im- proving the resource efficiency of the systems of production. Reusing, remanufacturing, and recycling end-of-life products, using the wastes of one production process as inputs to an- other, and redesigning products, processes, and supply chains for improved efficiency all offer clear environmental benefits to industrial society (Geyer and Jackson 2004; Graedel and Allenby 1995; Guide and van Wassenhove 2004; Jackson 1996)....
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This note was uploaded on 08/06/2008 for the course ESM 282 taught by Professor Geyer during the Spring '08 term at UCSB.
- Spring '08
- Through the Looking Glass