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Sustainability through informed choice : risks and opportunities


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McEachern, CM 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 choice'.
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 sustainability.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:McEachern, CM
Keywords: Supply and demand, Sustainable development, Consumers' preferences, Consumption (Economics)
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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 (MEnvSt) - University of Tasmania, 2002. Includes bibliographical references

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