Sustainability and the consumer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Social, environmental and economic issues of local and global magnitude are sparking grand challenges that affect, and are affected by, consumers and businesses of all sizes and sectors. As we write this chapter, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to demand the world’s attention, including significant governmental, business and civil society action and resources. While the pandemic foregrounds issues of health and other inequalities as well as major economic obstructions that threaten consumers’ livelihoods and everyday practices, the tangible impacts of our climate crisis are being felt locally and globally. According to the United Nations (UN, 2021), 2019 was the second warmest year in history; while reduced mobility during 2020 may have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by about 6%, this is still below the 7.6% annual reduction needed to limit the devastating impacts of global warming on nature and all life on Earth. Global challenges such as these are considered issues of sustainability and cannot be solved by single stakeholder groups. Sustainability challenges demand that governments, non-governmental organisations, businesses and consumers work together to develop more sustainable and resilient societies and economies going forward. In this chapter, we begin by addressing sustainability, what it may mean for consumers, the various theories and perspectives used to conceptualise sustainable consumption, and how consumers and marketers can play an active role in advancing the sustainable development goals. As sustainability requires societies across the world to tackle grand challenges of global scale, we focus on both the difficulties as well as the opportunities for implementing sustainability principles in consumer behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConsumer Behaviour
EditorsIsabelle Szmigin, Maria Piacentini
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198862567
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2022


  • Consumer behaviour
  • sustainable consumption
  • sustainability
  • green consumption
  • ethical consumption


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