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Promoting sustainable consumption with LCA : a social practice based perspective

  • Quantitative environmental assessments are crucial in working effectively towards sustainable production and consumption patterns. Over the last decades, life cycle assessments (LCA) have been established as a viable means of measuring the environmental impacts of products along the supply chain. In regard to user and consumption patterns, however, methodological weaknesses have been reported and, several attempts have been made to improve LCA accordingly, for example, by including higher order effects and behavioural science support. In a discussion of such approaches, we show that there has been no explicit attention to the concepts of consumption, often leading to product-centred assessments. We introduce social practice theories inQuantitative environmental assessments are crucial in working effectively towards sustainable production and consumption patterns. Over the last decades, life cycle assessments (LCA) have been established as a viable means of measuring the environmental impacts of products along the supply chain. In regard to user and consumption patterns, however, methodological weaknesses have been reported and, several attempts have been made to improve LCA accordingly, for example, by including higher order effects and behavioural science support. In a discussion of such approaches, we show that there has been no explicit attention to the concepts of consumption, often leading to product-centred assessments. We introduce social practice theories in order to make consumption patterns accessible to LCA. Social practices are routinised actions comprising interconnected elements (materials, competences, and meanings), which make them conceivable as one entity (e.g. cooking). Because most social practices include some sort of consumption (materials, energy, air), we were able to develop a framework which links social practices to the life cycle inventory of LCA. The proposed framework provides a new perspective of quantitative environmental assessments by switching the focus from products or users to social practices. Accordingly, we see the opportunity in overcoming the reductionist view that people are just users of products, and instead we see them as practitioners in social practises. This change could enable new methods of interdisciplinary research on consumption, integrating intend-oriented social sciences and impact-oriented assessments. However, the framework requires further revision and, especially, empirical validation.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Document Type:Peer-Reviewed Article
Author:Paul Suski, Melanie Speck, Christa Liedtke
Year of Publication:2021
Language:German
Source Title (German):Journal of cleaner production
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.125234
Volume:283
Division:Nachhaltiges Produzieren und Konsumieren
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Sozialwissenschaften
Licence:License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY-NC-ND - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International