4.3. Sustainable consumption and lifestyles

Aim: The session focuses on solutions that have been developed through local partnerships in order to increase citizens' quality of life. The partnerships can touch upon themes like sustainable productivity, smart advertising, lifestyle changes, life cycle analysis and local food production.

Facilitator: Mette Lise Jensen, Head of section, Environmental strategy and ecoinnovation, Danish Ministry of Environment

Rapporteur: Camilla Sederholm, Coordinator, Sustainable Consumption and Production group, Nordic Council of Ministers

Selling Sustainable Products – Nordic experiences

Based on a survey among selected Nordic retailers, the presentation gives an insight into the strategies and practical experiences on the shop level how Nordic retailers manage to raise the sales of sustainable products.
Kirsten Schmidt, Post Doc, Aalborg University, Denmark

Innovative and inspiring campaign – Joy without junk!

The presentation gives an insight into visionary campaign that combines innovative use of media and inspiring events. As the target group are the masses that are not yet actively combating climate change, our solution is to step closer to their everyday life and to find ways that they find interesting and easy.
Riikka Leskinen, Project manager of the Kelaa!-project, VALONIA, Finland

Life cycle costs – profits the environment and wallet

Actions to reduce the energy and water consumption or to create products with a longer length of life and a higher quality can give a lower total cost when considering the costs from a life cycle perspective. With this perspective, the picture changes both for environment and economy. The presentation introduces examples on the Nordic countries where environmental choices can be profitable when a life cycle perspective is used, also pointing on restrictions and examples on environmental issues when economy and environment doesn’t go hand in hand.
Berit Goldstein, Civil Engineer and Senior Environmental Consult, Project manager for the The Nordic Council of Minister's project on life cycle costs

Experiences on projects promoting sustainable lifestyles in Nordic countries

The presentation is based on the results of a study on projects that have successfully promoted sustainable lifestyle and an analysis of the success factors. The traditional way to influence lifestyles has concentrated on information spreading and attitudinal education but there are also projects that are aimed to make sustainable lifestyle choices easier to achieve and more desirable. The presentation show-cases projects that enable and exemplify as well as engage and encourage people to change to a more sustainable lifestyle.
Sanna Ahonen, Researcher, M.Sc., Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, Aalto University, Finland

Panel discussion

Summary of parallel session 4.3 Sustainable consumption and lifestyles

Results were presented from two projects within the NCM working group for sustainable consumption and production SCP: Selling Environmental-friendly Products in the Retail Trade and Lifecycle Costs. The third project presented was the regional information campagne Turku- Valonia kelaa!/ think about it project.

Selling Environmental-friendly Products in the Retail Trade, by Kirsten Schmidt, Aalborg University, Denmark:

Topics included in the study were related to: Strategy, Segmentation of consumers, Market development, Pricing, Cooperation internally and with external parties. Knowledge building and training activities, Market communication, Actions taken in the shops to promote sustainable products.

Image 1

  • On the market there are a) pioneers entering the market with new products b) followers entering when markets become more mature. The official buyers play an important role as market drivers for new products.
  • Green consumers are willing to pay even more, but only to good quality. Blue consumers (far larger in numbers) will try to buy “green” products if it´s convenient and not too different.
  • Leaders brand themselves on sustainability– followers don’t. Conscious consumers select leaders’ stores to buy sustainable products, where they also buy conventional products. Consumers enter followers’ stores for other reasons–often price–but when they are there, they also buy sustainable products if such products are available.
  • ”Environment” does not sell–but Nordic retailers don’t really use this argument, in opposition to e.g. their UK colleagues. What sell is care for babies and children, caring for health, climate, good quality.

Download article on the issue in English.
Download the entire report (only in danish)

Lifecycle Costs, Berit Goldstein, Miljökonsult B. Goldstein

The objective of this investigation is to collect the Nordic knowledge of costs of environmentally-adapted choices and to highlight the way in which lifecycle costs (LCC) affect the overall cost of environmentally-adapted choices for public and private purchases. The study includes LCC in building sector and the following products: lightening, windows, printers, white goods and water fittings.

In spite of the benefit of using lifecycle costs for the environment and the economy having been ascertained, they are used relatively rarely. Several obstacles have arisen regarding their use, and the most common can be summarised as constituting lack of information and ignorance, plus the fact that short-term cost philosophy, purchase costs and use are incumbent on different parties, as well as the fact that the initial costs are higher and the project budget is then inadequate.
Success factors for LCC:

  • Adequate resources but also knowledge and information.
  • The fact that procedures and support are in place in organisations and dialogue between players
  • Access to networks for procurers and buyers.
  • The fact that energy, electricity and water costs are made visible to the individual.
  • The fact that methodology and tools exist to perform LCC calculations, but also definitions and standards for things like performance, quality and lifetime that are used as entry data in the calculations.
  • The fact that there is an economic incentive for the whole value chain.

Download the entire report (only in Swedish)

The Turku Valonia- kelaa "think about it" information project

A project promoting sustainable lifestyle and consumption in the region of Turku, southwestern Finland. The purpose of this project was to raise discussions, arrange seminars, to promote advices on how the live sustainable or choose sustainable alternatives, mainly by gathering together people interesting in these matters. The main target group was families with children because when getting children adults usually become more interested in health and ecological questions.

Contact information for the Kelaa project

Key issues, findings, next steps from the parallel session and the discussions held

  • Main focus of current management of sustainability has so far been put on the area of less importance. Hence, there´s a mismatch between input of efforts and demands for efforts. See picture below.
  • Sustainable choices must be positive and easy to do.

Picture from presented by Mette Lise Jensen, facilitator of session 4.3.

  • We need to change our focus more on consumption and production, and especially on the areas of transports, housing and food, which are the three main areas of environmental impact
  • We need to change focus of our consumption, as also selling, out of material volumes to more quality and immaterial services. We need to dematerialize!
  • Sustainable consumption depends on awareness and credibility for interesting products or services. Sustainable alternatives should be positive, concrete and vigorous to choose!
  • Happiness doesn´t require an increase in material consumption. Bring the local perspective close! Step out from the margin, shake off the stereotype. Find a good partner!
  • For the Swedish consumers, saving money is the main argument choosing a (better) product. - Taking into account lifecycle costs, both moneysaving and ecological arguments can be achieved, e.g. low energy lamps, cars and houses.
  • We need to combine lifecycle costs (LCC) with environmental demands. New ways of thinking are strongly required in budgeting, especially within public procurement/buying. Public authorities are, or should be, heavily responsible for opening the market for new, more ecological, products or services.