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The effect of culture on sustainable behaviour in a design context

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conference contribution
posted on 24.03.2014, 13:51 by Jak Spencer, Debra Lilley
Over the last few decades the consumption patterns of the world’s wealthiest countries has led to the degradation of the environment and exploitation of the world’s finite resources. The developed world currently consumes at a level that requires up to five planets’ resources. The world average consumption, however, is a much lower 1.5 planets’, which is brought down by the lower consumption rates and more sustainable behaviours of developing countries. Culture is of particular importance, as the change in consumer culture in rapidly developing nations will have major consequences on global household resource use. Culture is a key factor in the formation of habits or routines that shape behaviours and lifestyles; however it has not yet been holistically explored in a design context. This paper introduces a crosscultural comparison of everyday household behaviours from an extensive study between the UK, India and Brazil. The findings show that culture plays a significant part on the resource impact of households due to the formation of habits and routines, with particular regard to bathing habits, washing clothes, meat consumption and energy services and the design implications of this are discussed.



  • Design


SPENCER, J. and LILLEY, D., 2012. IN: Fricke, V., Schrader, U. and Thoresen, V.W. (eds). Beyond Consumption: Pathways to Responsible Living. Proceedings of the 2nd PERL International Conference, 19th-20th March 2012, Technische Universität, Berlin, pp. 80 - 97.


Partnership for Education and Research about Responsible Living (PERL) and Technische Universität Berlin


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This is a conference paper. The definitive version is available at: http://www.aloenk.tu-berlin.de/fileadmin/fg165/PERL_Conference_Proceedings_2012_2MB.pdf