Why should society focus on sustainable consumption

Consumer culture

Ingo beauty

To person

Dr. phil., born 1959; Director of the imug Institute for Market Environment Society at Leibniz University Hanover, Brühlstrasse 11, 30169 Hanover.
Email: [email protected] Internet: www.imug.de

Sustainable consumption is a normative guiding principle that makes suggestions for changing consumption and production structures in order to ensure that they are suitable for guilds. The conscious design of important framework conditions for consumption is essential.


We meet at a critical point in human history. Our planet is warming dangerously. "With these words, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called on companies from all over the world to step up their efforts in the fight against climate change at the world economic summit on climate change in Copenhagen in late May 2009. [1]

But not only companies are called upon to face the challenges of climate change. In the production, but especially in the often energy-intensive use of products, consumers in industrialized countries consume far too much energy and other scarce resources. [2] If current consumption and production patterns are continued, we will soon need the area of ​​a second planet comparable to the earth to satisfy the hunger for resources. In addition, the distribution of resource and energy consumption is anything but fair. The so-called ecological footprint is 6.5 hectares per person in industrialized countries and 0.9 to 1.7 hectares in developing countries. [3] A similar picture emerges when it comes to energy consumption. For example, while an Indian consumed an average of one ton of CO2 in 2004, CO2 emissions in Germany were over 10 tons per person. More than 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that are dangerous to the climate in Germany are caused by private consumption. [4] Does this mean that our prosperity, which is largely dependent on consumption, is being put to the test?