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Keywords:

  • consumer behavior;
  • environmental impacts;
  • industrial ecology;
  • Marrakech process;
  • sustainable consumption and production (SCP);
  • Sustainable Consumption Research Exchanges (SCORE)

Summary

This introductory article situates the contributions that comprise this special issue within the field of sustainable consumption and production (SCP) studies. After a brief review of the policy history surrounding SCP, we organize our discussion and the subsequent collection of articles into two groups. The first suite of articles views the environmental impacts associated with household consumption from the perspectives of different consumer groups, income levels, and geographic areas. This work confirms and refines several insights that have been developing over the past several years, namely that food and beverages, mobility, housing, and energy-using products are the most critical consumption domains from the standpoint of environmental sustainability and that higher household income leads to greater (but less than proportional) impacts. The second subset of articles analyzes the potential for mitigating these impacts through behavioral changes and innovation strategies. Although the contributions to this special issue describe several noteworthy examples of information- and team-based initiatives to catalyze behavioral changes, the state of knowledge pertaining to this aspect of the consumption problem is much more inchoate. Research on the formulation and implementation of effective “change management for sustainable consumption” should be treated as an area of priority attention for industrial ecologists.