Sustainable Consumption = Making New Choices

Choice is fundamental to a thriving U.S. marketplace. Americans’ demand for choice in goods and services spurs innovation, creates jobs and fuels economic growth. However, current domestic consumption patterns may have unintended implications - negative and perhaps positive - for the nation's environmental and economic health. How can we encourage consumption choices that reduce the negative and reinforce the positive to ensure future generations have the options and opportunity to maintain the quality of life we enjoy today? The Johnson Foundation is beginning a new Environmental Forum to explore this dilemma and consider ways to accelerate new choices for sustainable consumption.

The Sustainable Consumption Forum will bring a diversity of perspectives and expertise to the table. Their work will focus on three key areas:

Understanding current and emerging consumption trends. Many consumers and companies alike have taken to heart the Three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle. Still others have gone beyond the low-hanging fruit, adopting new, advanced behaviors which have the potential to reduce the negative impacts of current consumption patterns. Understanding more about these smart consumption trendsetters is key to bringing about widespread cultural behavior shifts. The Forum will learn from societal success stories, such as anti-littering campaigns, as well as tap into the consumer insights of the private sector to understand the key triggers behind today’s choices in an effort to help identify ways to influence smarter choices going forward.

Understanding positive and negative drivers of consumption. Every decision, every day, large and small will impact choices available in the future. This is true for consumers and companies alike. By understanding the drivers behind household consumption choices, there is an opportunity to impact consumption patterns towards more sustainable outcomes from concept to commercialization to end-use. The Forum will conduct research to explore, among others: the role of innovation on consumption; the effectiveness of voluntary vs. mandatory measures to bring about societal change; and, the structural market changes needed to accelerate development, deployment and acceptance of innovative technology that promotes sustainable consumption.

Defining a New Paradigm and Strategy for Change. The Forum envisions a new consumption dialogue compatible with American values and with the concepts of sustainability, improving human well-being and economic growth. Forum participants will consider the role of mass and social media in evoking change; the information and education that can influence consumer behavior; the actions that may prompt consumers to consider the impact of day-to-day choices; and how to encourage disruptive technologies and products that can dramatically and positively impact consumption levels. Participants will work together to then create a national blueprint for change that leverages the strengths of our public and private sectors and encourages innovative business models that encourage sustainable consumption.

Visit us periodically for updates on the Sustainable Consumption Forum series.