Sustainable consumption, practices and devices

The world faces an increasingly complex mix of environmental challenges. Some are anchored in local contexts; others are highly global in character. Climate changes, resource depletion and de-forestation and three obvious examples, but many others are equally relevant. Many of these challenges are without a doubt tied to consumption. In some cases, the consumption of specific products and general consumption patterns add to the challenges. In other cases new modes of consumption or the consumption of new types of goods and services seen as pathways towards a solution. Is sustainable consumption possible? And if it is, how do we achieve it? How do we define sustainable consumption? How can we explain patterns of non-sustainable consumption and conceptualize some sort of transition pathway towards sustainability? Consumption is intimately linked to the notion of practice. Consider, for example, almost any modern household practice without the consumption of electricity. Or think about the practice of washing without consuming water, soap and shampoo. How can Nordic walking be practiced, without the consumption of the necessary equipment? Many practices are tightly associated with environmental problems. Certain hunting practices are associated with biodiversity loss, while practices associated with CO2 intensive modes of travel are associated with climate change. This working group welcomes contributions that discusses consumption, practices or the relationship between them in a sustainability perspective. Finally, this working group welcomes discussions on technological devices. There is currently much hope that new technological gadgets can help establish more sustainable consumption and change practices to become sustainable. An obvious example is found in the hype surrounding “smart” energy technologies. Through providing information and control to users, these should both lower the consumption rates of electricity and change a number of practices that in part depends on electricity consumption. We welcome empirical and theoretical explorations of devices and their relationship to consumption and practices in a sustainability perspective.


Tomas M Skjølsvold, The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, NTNU

Toke Hanustrup Christensen, Danish Building Research Institute, Aalborg University


List of participants