Social experiments in sustainable consumption: An evidence-based approach with potential for engaging low-income communities

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This paper considers the potential of Global Action Plan UK's (GAP) facilitated team-based approach to changing consumption practices for working with low-income communities. It outlines the two dominant approaches for encouraging sustainable consumption in UK policy: attitude-behaviour connection models (A-Bc) and consumer motivation theories. It then contrasts these with GAP's group-based approach and presents quantitative evidence for its effectiveness in reducing waste and electricity consumption. We suggest that three features of GAP's approach (i) measurement and feedback, (ii) contextualised knowledge production, and (iii) a supportive social context are critical to its success because they enable individuals to expose their taken-for-granted routines and behaviours to reflexive scrutiny in a trusted community. We argue that these factors make GAP's approach sensitive to the needs of low-income communities, but that such innovative social experiments require more support to build on their experiences, expand in size, and maintain a focus on both sustainable consumption and inequality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-758
Number of pages16
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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