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Browsing by Subject "kuluttaminen"

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  • Laakso, Senja (2011)
    In my Master's Thesis I discuss consumption from the perspective of ecological and social sustainability. The environmental space concept is the framework for this study. The environmental space concept was developed in the beginning of the 1990's. It is a space that can be defined with different indicators and within which it is possible to live a decent and socially acceptable life and at the same time consume natural resources in a sustainable way. In this research the upper limit of environmental space is defined as the sustainable level of natural resource use calculated as material footprint and the lower limit as decent minimum reference budgets that illustrate the level of consumption allowing a household to fulfil all basic needs and to participate in society. The material of the study was collected by questionnaires and interviews on the consumption and lifestyle of the participating households. The households interviewed were all single and living on disability pension or basic unemployment allowance. The natural resource consumption of the households was calculated as material footprint. The material footprint is based on the MIPS concept (Material Input per Service Unit) that considers the whole life cycle of products and activities. The participants were also asked to report their income and consumption expenditures. We were also discussing about consumption, the social pressure to consume and use of natural resources. The results show that the low-income households have an average material footprint exceeding the ecologically sustainable level (18 100 kg per year), although the material footprint is lower than average (40 500 kg per year). They also indicate that a sustainable level of resource use cannot be achieved solely by individual choices but the society must improve the changes in the supply of products, services and infrastructure, enabling households to consume in a more sustainable way. The income level of the households remains below the level of the decent minimum reference budgets. The participating households experienced poverty as lack of possibility to consume and recognized the prevailing social pressure to consume. Consuming was characterized by pursuit of status and social comparison between people. The change in prevailing consumer culture is an essential part on the way towards sustainable society, because the amount of consumption grows as long as welfare is measured through consumption. The connection between consumption and natural resource use remained unclear to many of the households and attitudes towards nature alternated between the households. Those households that had been low-income for their whole life, hadn't thought about the sufficiency of natural resources. Their more ecological way of living than average is rather compulsory than their own choice. The rise in their income level would lead to increasing consumption, as households would want to raise their standard of living by moving to a bigger house and travelling. When we notice the limits of the Planet, we should pay more attention to the upper limit of the environmental space to those, who consume the most.