Caveats in environmental justice, consumption and ecological footprints: The relationship and policy implications of socioeconomic rank and sustainable consumption patterns

Meital Peleg-Mizrachi, Alon Tal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

The study evaluates the sustainability of consumption patterns among different socioeconomic deciles based on individual ecological footprints generated by four of the world's most polluting industries: animal products/meat, textiles, transport, and residential energy. Online shopping is also considered due to its mounting popularity. A national survey, which ensured equal representation of socioeconomic deciles, involving 600 respondents in Israel was conducted, supplemented by follow-up semi-structured personal interviews with 25 participants. Conventional wisdom supports the notion that wealthier segments of society produce greater ecological footprints in all aspects of their consumption. In fact, our findings reveal that patterns are more nuanced and that there are areas in which poorer populations reveal less sustainable consumption patterns: poorer populations in the lower deciles report a greater per capita ecological footprint in their purchases of textiles and food consumption. By contrast, wealthier deciles have relatively larger ecological footprints in the areas of transport and residential patterns (which drive their energy consumption). Results suggest that some of the fundamental assumptions among environmental justice advocates regarding contrasting consumption patterns in auent and poorer segments of society are not always supported by empirical evidence. Findings also indicate that there is room for greater government interventions to facilitate more sustainable consumption patterns among poorer populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number231
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Consumption
  • Ecological footprint
  • Energy
  • Environmental justice
  • Food
  • Textiles
  • Transportation

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