Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

"Future Generations" and Sustainable Consumption

Academic journal article Economics & Sociology

"Future Generations" and Sustainable Consumption

Article excerpt


As sustainable consumption (SC) is (has to be) a current topic in case of consumers (private and public purchasers) and also of producers, at the beginning of the paper (Chapter 1) we introduce the main definitions and concepts of sustainable consumption based on an international literature review and in the same chapter we summarize the meaning of sustainable consumer behaviour. We also concentrate on eco-labelling and eco-labels, as tools of sustainable consumption, in the next chapter (Chapter 2) we introduce the main definitions, aims and usability of eco-labels using literature review.

The secondary research is the base of our primer, questionnaire research, so the second part of our paper (Chapter 3 and subchapters (3.1, 3.2, 3.3)) introduces the results of this primer research (our method was descriptive statistic in the examination of answers). The questionnaire research focuses on the interpretation and the factors of sustainable consumption, in addition the influencing factors of choosing eco-labelled products; within the sample of Hungarian university students who are the members of "future generations" (Students of Department of Environmental Economics (Budapest University of Technology and Economics)) were asked during a limited time period, so these are limits of the questionnaire research, however the sample is relatively high, so we assume that some general conclusions can be drawn from the answers). Finally, based on the results of the questionnaire research, at the end of the paper (Conclusions) we make conclusions about the interests on sustainable consumption and eco-labelling and also highlight the improving fields in raising awareness.

1. Sustainable consumption and consumer behaviour - a literature review

Our production and consumption habits/behaviour have a strong contribution to global environmental problems, therefore the necessity to move towards a more sustainable behaviour is urgent - as it is emphasised in the EU's Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy Action Plan (COM (2008) 397 final, 2008). Numerous publications, roadmaps from the Commission call the attention for sustainable consumption and production (inter alia "Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe" (COM (2011) 571 final, 2011, Ch. 3 and 3.1), thus sustainable consumption and production is (has to be) a current topic in case of consumers (private and public purchasers (see green public procurement (inter alia (Diófási & Valkó, 2014)) and also of producers. As sustainable consumption is in the centre of this work, further paragraphs analyse mostly the concept of sustainable consumption.

In spite of the fact, that term of sustainable consumption has appeared as early as in 1992, in the Rio Summit of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Agneda21) (UNEP, 2010), today there is a wide range of definitions and approaches in connection with this concept. It is defined, characterized by different initiatives, reports, and international policies and also scientific literatures, however several works are about solutions towards achieving sustainable consumption patterns. Based on non-exhaustive but comprehensive literature review, we present a clear, summarized picture about the main characteristics of sustainable consumption.

After the Rio Summit, the working definition of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) was created by the Oslo Symposium on Sustainable Consumption in 1994, namely SCP is "[t]he use of services and related products, which respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life while minimising the use of natural resources and toxic materials as well as the emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle of the service or product so as not to jeopardise the needs of future generations" (Norwegian Ministry of Environment referred by UNEP, 2010, p. 12). According to this definition, the transition toward "sustainable consumption and production patterns should mean more than just enabling consumers to buy products that are a bit more sustainable" (Fedrigo and Hontelez, 2010 referred by Wang, Liu, & Qi, 2014, p. …

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