Toward sustainable consumption: Researching voluntary simplifiers



This article examines and extends the notion of voluntary simplifiers (VS). VS are individuals who have freely chosen a frugal, anticonsumer lifestyle that features low resource use and environmental impact. The article will begin by reviewing empirical work with VS and their mainstream counterparts, non-voluntary simplifiers (NVS). It will go on to identify and locate within this literature an intermediate group: beginner voluntary simplifiers (BVS). BVS may support some aspects of sustainability (such as buying fair-trade coffee or recycling domestic waste) without either embracing a complete lifestyle change like VS, or completely dismissing ethical or environ-mental features of products and services they consume, like NVS. Insight into the complex decision-making processes of BVS is crucial for the understanding of the concept of voluntary simplification and is therefore important for the advancement of sustainable consumption. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.