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While popular interest in sustainable consumption continues to grow, there is a persistent gap between consumers’ typically positive explicit attitudes towards sustainability and their actual consumption behaviours. This gap can be explained, in part, by the belief that choosing to consume sustainably is both constraining and reduces individual-level benefits. While the belief that sustainable consumption depends on making trade-offs is true in some contexts, increasingly consumers are finding that more sustainable forms of consumption can provide both an expanded set of options and additional, individual-level benefits. In this essay, we discuss and illustrate an expanded set of options and benefits across the consumption cycle: from acquisition to usage and disposition. An underlying theme is the separation of material ownership from the extraction of consumer benefits across the consumption cycle. We believe that this ongoing evolution of products - and even business models - has the potential to simultaneously increase value to consumers as well as speed progress towards a more sustainable marketplace.
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Luchs, Michael G., Rebecca Walker Naylor and Randall L. Rose (2011), “Toward a Sustainable Marketplace: Expanding Options and Benefits for Consumers,” Journal of Research for Consumers, 19: 1-12.