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Product development and responsible consumption: designing alternatives for sustainable lifestyles

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date07/2008
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Number of pages7
Original languageEnglish


This paper presents insights from a research project that examines the notion of ‘responsible consumption’, its relationship to consumer preferences and expectations, and its implications for product design and development. The paper discusses the issue of sustainable consumption in relation to product development and summarizes initial findings from a study conducted among people who consider themselves responsible consumers. Notably, four different profiles of ‘simplifiers’ are described. The study shows that people who took part in the research adopt more sustainable lifestyles not only because of an ecological consciousness, but also because of perceived personal factors or benefits. The study also reveals that participants have both a close and distant relationship to objects and that they prefer products that allow them to be engaged in the activity of “doing”. Product development strategies informed by these insights are explored. The paper suggests that product designers can support and encourage those already active or interested in orienting their consumption habits towards more sustainable solutions by envisioning appropriate ecologically and socially responsible product alternatives.