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Sustainability and household consumption in Norway

What factors prevent and enable a transition to a more sustainable and fair consumption in Norway?

Shelf full of things

Photo by Siniz Kim on Unsplash

About the project

Overconsumption is at the core of global sustainability challenges, yet often neglected in sustainability policy. Households play a crucial role, as a high share of total emissions and resource use is linked to household consumption patterns. In Norway, with high material living standards and strong purchasing power, household consumption makes up a large part of the national carbon footprint. Consumption is also a central question with respect to balancing social inequalities: First, consumption is unevenly distributed within countries. Second, affluent countries like Norway produce very little of what is consumed within their own borders, hence within the current production-based models of emission counting, Norway ‘exports’ much of their consumption-related emissions.

A large body of literature has disclosed consumption as a complex social phenomenon that is strongly affected by a wide range of political and material factors. Still, in policy-making, sustainable consumption tends to be treated as an individual responsibility, where rational consumers will make sustainable choices if given adequate information. This project goes beyond individual choice and focuses on understanding consumption in the geographies and practices of everyday life, including how production and ‘systems of provision’ co-shape consumption patterns. Consuming sustainably is both a confusing and highly challenging endeavor.

Based on interviews with households, policymakers and business actors, we seek to better understand the struggles and negotiations households engage in, as well as the social, political, material and institutional aspects working as barriers and enablers of sustainable and equitable consumption.


The Research Council of Norway


2021 – 2024

Published Dec. 4, 2020 5:04 PM - Last modified Dec. 9, 2020 10:54 AM