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Sustainability through informed choice : risks and opportunities


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McEachern, Callum Macdonald 2002 , 'Sustainability through informed choice : risks and opportunities', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The thesis examines the capacity of current demand side policies to change unsustainable
consumption patterns, with a special focus on the market-based tools used to develop
'informed choice' by consumers. It is argued that the trend to increased private consumption
in industrialised countries is undermining eco-efficiency gains on the supply side. A
widening gap between consumer attitudes and actions has led to weaker demand for
environmentally responsible products.
It is argued that mainstream consumers are reluctant to change behaviour due to complex
internal and external inhibitors. The ability to make informed choices is particularly
restricted by poor access to, understanding of and utilisation of environmental product
information. Both the barriers and success factors in transforming the market towards
sustainable consumption are clarified by analysing trends in Norway, with particular
emphasis on 'clean, green food'. The roles of actors in the flow of environmental
information along the product chain are analysed to test the assumptions behind 'informed
Evidence from the Norwegian situation confirms that current marketing and eco-labelling are
failing to overcome two crucial barriers needed to change the market: internalisation of costs
in prices and internalisation of responsibility by all actors, especially end consumers. The
solution is sharper, knowledge-based tools that support 'seamless learning' along the product
chain. Both government and business need to invest in conditions that build the competency
of mainstream consumers.
The lessons learned from Norway suggest contradictions and paradoxes in pursuing
'informed choice'. The thesis concludes that without adequate monitoring and balanced
investment, 'informed choice' is likely to fail and thus jeopardise the demand side of

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:McEachern, Callum Macdonald
Keywords: Supply and demand, Sustainable development, Consumers' preferences, Consumption (Economics)
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2002 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.Env.St.) - University of Tasmania, 2002. Includes bibliographical references

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