Sustainable Consumption

Chair:       Markus Vinnari, University of Eastern Finland
Time:        Thursday, 9th June, at 13-15
Venue:     Lecture room B3109
vv
How to Revise the Concepts of Economy?
Pekka Mäkelä
University of Jyväskylä, Finland
v
As the topics of the conference suggests, we should find contents for what ‘development’ is within the context of ‘sustainability’. Following the Critical Theory tradition, adjusted into the present, I would like to contribute with a somewhat ‘dissident’ presentation.
v
At first, the connection between the terms ’development’ and ’growth’ should be cut: the former does not mean the latter, nor vice versa. Another distinction to be made concerns the terms ‘GNP’ and ‘welfare’. GNP measures all (material and immaterial) things on the basis of their exchange value in the market, not their use value in the practices of the final consumer. At worst, more and more things produced do not increase (local and/or global) welfare, but rather decrease it.
v
Worldwide ability to produce enough is no problem any longer. In consequence, we should concentrate on demand as the main issue, instead of supply. I will suggest some theoretical novelties within the context of consumer behavior theory. Self-critical consumers are the potential agents of social change in the consumer society. The following questions should be asked (and finally answered): How to change practices that are too consumption intensive? How to reject the ‘Veblenian effect’ in the practices of consumption and, instead, enlarge (social) usability of goods?
vvv
Sustainable Consumption, Citizen-Consumer Positions and Farm Animal Issue
Saara Kupsala, Pekka Jokinen & Markus Vinnari
University of Eastern Finland
v
The discussion concerning sustainable development has tended to focus on environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development, while less attention has been given to what sustainable development can mean in terms of humans’ ethical relations with animals. However, as human societies are increasingly based on the utilisation of growing amount of animals in ever more intensified ways, there is a need to discuss how more ethically sustainable futures could be created. Consumption has become a pertinent issue in both the areas of environmental protection and animal ethics as there has been a growing acknowledgement of the major environmental and ethical impacts of current consumerist lifestyles. At the same time consumption has become a strengthening public arena of activism and a form of political participation.
v
Based on a nation-wide survey study carried out in Finland (n = 1896), we analyse in this paper what kinds of citizen-consumer positions can be identified in farm animal welfare/rights issues. It will be shown that although the majority of Finnish respondents do not define consumption as an active political arena through which to influence farm animal welfare, there are one fourth of citizens that express willingness to act on animal welfare issues through consumption practices. We conclude the paper by discussing how different citizen-consumer positions should be taken into account in the societal endeavours to promote pro-animal consumption practices.
vv
Towards Sustainable Society – Transforming Materialistic Consumerism
Arto Salonen1 & Mauri Åhlberg2
1Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Finland &
2University of Helsinki, Finland
v
The mankind has faced three regimes: hunter-gatherers, agrarian societies and industrial society. Transition towards sustainable society will be the next regime. It means a fundamental re-orientation of society and the economy which is based on knowledge, thinking, value, attitude and behavior changes. Finnish university students (n = 198) assessed their attitudes and achievements in implementation of Sustainable Development (SD) in their daily life. The data were collected using a theory-grounded semantic differential technique that is an improvement of the semantic differential rating scale. A measurement instrument was created by balancing 33 variables of ecological, economic and social sustainability. The variables were indicators of attitudes and behavior. Post-materialistic behavior was operationalized as follows:  (a) importance of owning is decreased, (b) services are used instead of owning goods and (c) renewal of goods is motivated by real needs. Performing of logistic regression analysis found that the difference with the most and less post-materialistic way behaving groups was statistically significant in the following attitudes: health-promoting lifestyle, recycling, organic food, water conservation, maintaining of civil society, favoring the  eco-labeled products and using renewable energy resources. These themes are discussed in the paper and the model of sustainability promoting lifestyle is created.
vv

Maximum and Minimum Consumption – Two-Dimensional Approaches in Defining a Decent Lifestyle 

Michael Lettenmeier1, Satu Lähteenoja2, Tuuli Hirvilammi3, Kristiina Aalto4 & Senja Laakso5
1Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Germany, 2D-Mat Ltd, Finland, 3Kela – The Social Insurance Institution of Finland, 4National Consumer Research Centre, Finland & 5Helsinki University, Finland
v
A decent, or sufficient, lifestyle is largely considered an important objective in terms of a sustainable future. However, there can be strongly varying definitions of what a decent lifestyle means. From a socio-economic sustainability point of view, a decent lifestyle can be defined as the minimum level of consumption ensuring an acceptable quality of life. From an ecological sustainability point of view, a decent lifestyle can be defined as a lifestyle that as a maximum consumes an amount of natural resources without exceeding the long-term carrying capacity of nature.
v
The paper presents the natural resource consumption calculated for a number of decent lifestyles defined by a consumer panel of the Finnish National Consumer Research Centre for people of different age and gender. The natural resource consumption is calculated on the basis of the MIPS concept (material input per service unit). The results show that the natural resource consumption based on the decent lifestyles is lower than the one of the average consumer. However, the resource consumption is still higher than long-term ecological sustainability would require. The paper discusses this discrepancy and suggests steps for making future lifestyles more sustainable both from an ecological and a socio-economic point of view.
v
Sustainable Consumption Policy – Real Life Impact, Ambition and Potential 
Norma Schönherr1, Bettina Brohmann1, Eva Heiskanen2, & Kristiina Aalto2 1Öko-Institut, Germany & 2National Consumer Research Centre, Finland
v
Sustainable consumption is not a new field for political action in itself – in fact, it has been on the political agenda since at least the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. However, sustainable consumption has rarely been examined as a separate policy field with very specific ambitions and characteristics that require an integrated policy response across several governmental scales if the problems linked to (over) consumption and production are to be successfully tackled. The paper presents the empirical results of a three-year European research project which has examined current consumption trends, conducted a comparative analysis of a large range of case studies covering all regions of the EU, and developed scenarios for future impacts of integrated instrument bundles in the field of sustainable consumption.
v
The paper discusses factors of success and failure that explain limited success in promoting sustainable consumption so far and draws lessons for future policy design and implementation in the EU. In conclusion, the article suggests ways in which we might have to reshape our ambitions and assumptions as regards sustainable consumption policy if steering consumers towards more environmentally premised and socially equitable behaviors is to be at all possible.
v
Nudging Consumers towards Sustainable Consumption 
Eva Heiskanen & Kristiina Aalto
National Consumer Research Centre, Finland
v
A recent and widely acclaimed book by Thaler and Sunsten (2008), Nudge, presented a new approach to promoting more most sensible consumer choices – in the authors’ words, “Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness”. This approach was not totally unknown in the field of social marketing for sustainable consumption, but the publicity gained by the book made “Nudge” the new catchword for promoting sustainable consumption. The key argument is that many decisions are made automatically, without much reflection, and consumer choices can be improved by better “choice architecture”, i.e., by reorganizing the way choices are presented to the consumer.
v
We examine the key concepts and recommendations of Nudge in the light of two case studies of policy instruments to promote sustainable consumption in Finland: Sustainable Public Catering and Energy Expert. These are both schemes that aim to reframe the decisions of consumers – albeit in very different ways. Drawing on extensive interview, focus group and documentary data, we examine what features of “Nudge” policies are visible in these instruments, to what extent they go beyond merely “nudging”, and thus contribute to a discussion on the opportunities and constraints to using “Nudge” as general approach to promoting sustainable consumption.
v
Household Food Waste in Finnish Food Production Chain 
Kirsi Silvennoinen, Juha-Matti Katajajuuri, Anu Reinikainen, Hanna Hartikainen, Lotta Jalkanen & Heta-Kaisa Koivupuro
MTT Agrifood Research Finland
v
Minimizing food waste is a part of food chain responsibility. The reduction of the amount of food waste is crucial for mitigating the environmental impacts of the entire food chain. According to several researches conducted in Europe and USA consumers produce more food waste than any other actor in the food chain. However the amount of food waste in Finnish production chain has not been studied much yet. This paper presents the results of Finnish household food waste study.
v
The research data was collected by monitoring the actual amounts of food waste occurring in 380 Finnish households. Households kept two weeks food waste diary where the amount and the type of food waste as well as the reason for the generated waste were written down. The data was analysed using descriptive statistics, crosstabs, and bar charts. Linear regression model was applied to find statistically significant results and dummy and dichotomous variables were formed to include qualitative information into the model.   According to the results an average person produces annually 23 kilos of food waste. The main food waste categories were vegetables (19%), homemade food (18%), dairy products (17%), bread and other cereal products (13%) and fruit and berries (12%). The main reasons for food waste were: food was spoiled/mouldy, best before date was expired, plate leftover, or too much food was prepared.
v
According to the statistical tests, the following background factors affected the amount of food waste: the size of the household, gender of the grocery shopper, daily recycling of organic waste, appreciation of low food prices and potential to reduce food waste. Moreover, storing food in right temperature and opening new packages after finishing the old ones were valued as the most concrete food waste prevention methods.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.