Sustainable Consumption : Key Issues book cover
1st Edition

Sustainable Consumption
Key Issues

ISBN 9781138645660
Published June 13, 2018 by Routledge
250 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Sustainable Consumption: Key Issues provides a concise introduction to the field of sustainable consumption, outlining the contribution of the key disciplines in this multi-disciplinary area, and detailing the way in which both the problem and the potential for solutions are understood.

Divided into three parts, the book begins by introducing the concept of sustainable consumption, outlining the environmental impacts of current consumption trends, and placing these impacts in social context. The central section looks at six contrasting explanations of sustainable consumption in the public domain, detailing the stories that are told about why people act in the way they do. This section also explores the theory and evidence around each of these stories, linking them to a range of disciplines and approaches in the social sciences. The final section takes a broader look at the solutions proposed by sustainable consumption scholars and practitioners, outlining the visions of the future that are put forward to counteract damage to environment and society. Each chapter highlights key authors and real-world examples to encourage students to broaden their understanding of the topic and to think critically about how their daily lives intersect with environmental and ethical issues.

Exploring the ways in which critical thinking and an understanding of sustainable consumption can be used in daily life as well as in professional practice, this book is essential reading for students, academics, professionals and policy-makers with an interest in this growing field.

Table of Contents

List of figures

Lit of ables

List of boxes



Part 1: Introducing sustainable consumption

  1. Introduction
  2. Measuring sustainable consumption
  3. Sustainable consumption in social context
  4. Part 2: Explaining sustainable consumption

  5. 'People don’t understand'
  6. 'People are selfish'
  7. 'It’s all about values'
  8. 'The personal is political'
  9. 'We don’t have a choice'
  10. 'Consumption is meaningful!'
  11. Part 3: Visions of the future in sustainable consumption

  12. Production-consumption relations
  13. The solution is collective
  14. Sustainable consumption makes you happy! - co-authored with David Wingate
  15. Revolution or evolution?
  16. Conclusion: building images of the future

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Lucie Middlemiss is Associate Professor in Sustainability, and Co-director of the Sustainability Research Institute, in the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, UK.


"Sustainable consumption is a grand challenge of our time, and this long-awaited textbook positively fizzes with clarity and curiosity, guaranteed to spark engagement and inspiration. Middlemiss expertly relates major real-world problems and solutions to our everyday lives, grounding complex debates in an accessible, no-nonsense style. She helps us think critically about the stories we tell ourselves, about how we will live in the future, and the political action we need to take us there. Unashamedly infused with a passion for social justice, this is essential reading for students and scholars of sustainable consumption." -- Gill Seyfang, Reader in Sustainable Consumption, University of East Anglia, UK

"This innovative textbook in the growing field of sustainable consumption studies tackles questions of power, social equity and environmental limits, whilst it also considers different representations of consumption in relation to everyday life. Middlemiss grapples with big questions in a highly accessible and inviting manner. I look forward to putting the book to immediate use in my classroom." -- Marlyne Sahakian, founding member of SCORAI Europe, and Assistant Professor in Sociology, University of Geneva, Switzerland

"This book marks a milestone in the evolution of research and policy practice on the unsustainability of contemporary consumption in many parts of the world. Students and others will benefit enormously from Middlemiss’ careful work to digest and make meaningful a Himalayan-sized expanse of material on an extremely significant, but thus far largely underappreciated, topic. The volume embodies impressive ambition and will propel to new heights readers who take its insights to heart." - Maurie J. Cohen, Professor of Sustainability Studies, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and co-founder of the Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative, USA

"Middlemiss brings together the perspectives of a wide range of disciplines to frame an accessible picture of the academic landscape surrounding sustainable consumption – an evolving field. An excellent resource for anyone wishing to understand the role of consumption in the social, economic and environmental challenges of the modern world." -- Garrette E. Clark, Sustainable Lifestyles Programme Officer, UN Environment, France

"This book provides a timely and highly needed textbook for classes on sustainable consumption across disciplines. Middlemiss does a wonderful job of highlighting the relevance of the topic, the enormous challenges involved, and, most importantly, the need to adopt systemic approaches if one seriously aims to solve the problems arising from our high-consumption lifestyles."Doris Fuchs, Professor for International Relations and Sustainable Development, University of Münster, Germany

"Middlemiss has given instructors and students an invaluable resource! Instructors will appreciate the use of concrete examples to make clear the complexity of sustainable consumption. Students will be grateful for the real-life illustrations that connect their own lives to large-scale sociological and cultural drivers of unsustainable resource use patterns." -- Emily Huddart Kennedy, Assistant Professor, Washington State University, USA