Rehabilitating Affluent Lifestyles? Moving towards Sustainability

By Yuefeng Guo, Robert Vale and Brenda Vale.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

It has been increasingly recognised that behavioural change can play a more significant role than technological and technical solutions in moving towards sustainable consumption and sustainability in general. Consumer behaviour can be analysed in terms of three categories: the Rational Choice Model (RCM), the Emotional Choice Model (ECM) and the Integrative Model (IM), where the RCM and the ECM are combined. Much of current policy such as price signals, persuasion and social learning to promote sustainable consumption is based on the RCM. However, limitations of the RCM illustrate that there exists a ‘value-action’ gap, which stops people from making changes in their choices and actions. To bridge the gap, aspects of the ECM such as changing habits appear to be crucial. In previous research, the authors have identified that preservation of traditional vernacular cultures can lead to sustainable habits and lifestyles, especially in the countryside of the developing world. However, what strategies can be used to motivate a sustainable way of living in developed urban settings where such culture has been lost and environmental impacts are much greater?

This paper explores the idea that affluent lifestyles based on over-consumption should be regarded as addictive habits, parallel to other harmful additions like smoking, alcoholism and gambling. Perhaps some strategies utilised for treating these addictions can be applied to bringing forth sustainable habits. To ‘detoxify’ affluent lifestyles requires the application of the IM with a holistic approach.

Keywords: Behavioural Change, Culture, Habit, addiction, Sustainable Lifestyles

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.211-222. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 781.874KB).

Yuefeng Guo

PhD Candidate, School of Architecture and Planning, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

I am a PhD candidate studying under Professor Robert and Brenda Vale. My research interest has been social-cultural aspects of sustainable architecture. With Professor Robert and Brenda Vale, I have published several papers on such sustainability issues as progress, Yin-Yang paradigm, behavioural change, and the link between the autonomous house with Buddhist Economics.

Prof. Robert Vale

Professor, School of Architecture and Design, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand

As architects in the UK Robert and Brenda Vale (the Vales) designed the first autonomous house and the award winning zero energy Hockerton Housing project. They developed NABERS (with Roger Fay) the first building rating system to rate buildings in use. Recently they published Time to Eat the Dog? This book is about the footprint of western lifestyle, showing that capitalism is incompatible with sustainability.

Prof. Brenda Vale

Professor, School of Architecture and Design, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand

As architects in the UK Robert and Brenda Vale (the Vales) designed the first autonomous house and the award winning zero energy Hockerton Housing project. They developed NABERS (with Roger Fay) the first building rating system to rate buildings in use. Recently they published Time to Eat the Dog? This book is about the footprint of western lifestyle, showing that capitalism is incompatible with sustainability.

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