Slower Consumption Reflections on Product Life Spans and the “Throwaway Society”


Centre for Sustainable Consumption Sheffield Hallam University Howard Street Sheffield S1 1WB, UK <> <>


Sustainable consumption is unlikely to be achieved as long as the quantity of household waste generated in industrial nations continues to rise. One factor underlying this trend is the life span of household goods. This article contributes to recent advances in life-cycle thinking by highlighting the significance of product life spans for sustainable consumption and exploring the current state of research. A theoretical model is developed to demonstrate how, by contributing to efficiency and sufficiency, longer product life spans may secure progress toward sustainable consumption. Empirical research undertaken in the United Kingdom on consumer attitudes and behavior relating to the life spans of household products is reviewed and factors that influence the market for longer-lasting products are discussed. A need is identified for further research on product life spans and some themes are proposed.