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BNELIT - Datenbank zu Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung: wissenschaftliche Literatur und Materialien
Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung: wiss. Literatur und Materialien (BNELIT)
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Happiness and Sustainable Consumption.
Psychological and physical rebound effects at work in a tool for sustainable design.
Zeitschriftenausgabe (-> Ref.Nr):
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Seite (von-bis):
Goal, Scope and Background. Life cycle assessment has emerged into a useful tool to assess and potentially reduce the environmental impacts per functional unit. This has contributed to increase eco-efficiency but not necessarily to decrease absolute pollution per capita. The number of functional units is increasing and new functions add to the impacts of consumption. Despite the attempts to use different levels of definitions for the functional unit and applying LCA in the field of lifestyle studies there has been little success to grasp the consumption side of sustainable production and consumption. This contribution aims to tackle the consumption side by at least two extensions: the function of products, services, and activities is assessed with a multi-attribute need function and the propensity to cause both psychological and physical rebound effects are considered in the design phase. Methods. We develop a checklist approach with an evaluation and assessment table. The elements of the checklist are rooted in a number of independent fields of science: needs matrix, happiness enhancing factors, a number of limiting factors that can cause rebound effects, and streamlined LCA. Results and Conclusion. For illustration purposes we comparatively evaluate gardening, having a dog, a weekend house, and starting yoga classes and show that the new analysis framework is able to make transparent and operable the inclusion of a number of additional factors that remained so far implicit or neglected. The additional factors considered can be grouped into factors that may cause rebound effects through psychological or physical mechanisms. The assessment table combines the degree of satisfying needs and enhancing happiness in a psychological rebound score. The physical rebound score considers six factors that may constrain consumption: Costs, time, space, other scarce resources, information, and skills. This allows predicting the potential for rebound effects that would increase total impacts from consumption. In addition, it gives also a handle on how to use the knowledge on rebound effects to not only reduce the impacts of the product or activity at hand but also reducing other consumption that in turn might have adverse impacts. Recommendation and Perspective. Many assumptions in selecting and quantifying the additional factors and the final assessment procedure remain conceptual and therefore provisional. This contribution opens new avenues of investigations that need both further refinements of the theories and empirical evidence. Consumerism and materialism has undermined much of the success stories of improved eco-efficiency and LCA. We suggest using some of the very same psychological and physical mechanisms to foster sustainable consumption.