What are sustainable lifestyles?
Lifestyles include all aspects of the way we live our lives. They allow us to fulfil our needs and aspirations. Research shows that our ways of living serve as “social conversations”, in which we signal our social position and psychological aspirations to others. Since many of the signals are mediated by goods, lifestyles are closely linked to material and resource flows in society.
See a short video on sustainable lifestyles by the Swedish led Task Force on Sustainable Lifestyles.
“Sustainable lifestyles are patterns of action and consumption, used by people to affiliate and differentiate themselves from others, which: meet basic needs, provide a better quality of life, minimise the use of natural resources and emissions of waste and pollutants over the lifecycle, and do not jeopardise the needs of future generations”.
Definition from CSD (2004). “Every little bit helps…” Overcoming the challenges to researching, promoting and implementing sustainable lifestyles. Westminster, Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Westminster: 48.
'Sustainable livelihoods' and 'sustainable ways of living' are other commonly used terms, usually with the same meaning as sustainable lifestyles.
Task Force on Sustainable Lifestyles
Under the Marrakech Process, a number of countries have run international Task Forces on various aspects of sustainable production and consumption. Sweden has been leading an international Task Force on Sustainable Lifestyles. Nine projects have been run over a number of years covering aspects such as advertising and marketing courses, sustainable entrepreneurship into African universities and colleges, communicating sustainability, and the business case for sustainable lifestyles.
The results of the Task Force are now captured in a number of formats and languages. You can find a short video, and download a report, a brochure, a PowerPoint presentation, and an Innovation Brief document. Possible languages available are English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Arabic.
PERL and sustainable lifestyles
PERL recognises that for people to live sustainable lifestyles, individuals must be motivated and creative but they also need business, governments and other citizens to create the necessary infrastructures, products, services and social norms. While PERL is focused on empowering citizens, PERL is also influencing governments and business.
PERL also recognises that achieving sustainable consumption requires an understanding of peoples' behaviours and motivations. Therefore, education for sustainable consumption must go beyond the environmental impacts of goods and services.
PERL is working closely with Sweden and the Task Force on Sustainable Lifestyles, and is grateful for the support of the Swedish Environment Ministry.