Towards sustainable consumption? Economics and ethical concerns for the environment in consumer choices

The article examines individual action informed by ethical concerns for the environment as a strategy for moving toward more sustainable consumption. The article first employs a model of rational choice to analyze independent consumer choices among the usually assumed self- and welfare-centered consumers and then expands the model to analyze the implications of other than self- and welfare-centered motivations for consumer choice. The article next analyzes interdependent consumer choices informed by self- and welfare-centered values with the help of a simple game-theoretic model and then moves on to examine the implications of nonutilitarian environmental concerns for interdependent consumer choice in the same game-theoretic framework. The article concludes that although a strategy based on individual action may have limited promise when environmental concerns are widely shared, the case for collective action remains strong because of both efficiency and equity reasons.

Paavola J (2001) , Review of Social Economy, 59, pp.227-248.