Written by: Piia Lundberg
We studied sustainable consumption among consumers residing in Finland and what steps they place themselves on in terms of sustainable consumption: beginner, experimenter, intermediate and experienced. Our scale included also answer option: “I do not feel that I belong to any of these”.
Majority of our respondents considered themselves as intermediates. About one tenth belonged to beginners and the same number to the experienced. About one in four described themselves as experimenters. In addition, seven per cent of the respondents felt that they do not belong to any of these steps.
We found that older respondents, those with higher education or better off considered themselves as more experienced than other respondents. This may reflect the more sustainable and frugal lifestyle of previous generations, where goods were more durable and disposable culture was not part of consumption, as well as the environmental awareness brought by education. Therefore, we can learn from the frugal lifestyle of previous generations to enhance and normalize sustainable consumption patterns among consumers. In addition, it is important to invest in teaching sustainability at all levels of education.
We observed differences when comparing different sustainable everyday choices, such as using reusable bags when shopping, refusing fee products and preferring goods made from recycled materials, because more experienced respondents made more sustainable choices than the other respondents. Those who did not feel that they belonged to any step did the least sustainable choices in their everyday life. Therefore, it is important to strive to increase the share of more experienced consumers, and on the other hand, to find ways to motivate those consumers to make more sustainable everyday choices, who do not feel that they belong to any steps. More sustainable everyday choices also send a message to the production sector and can guide production in a more sustainable direction in terms of the use of natural resources.