Research Project is Questioning Consumption

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Researchers from the disciplines of Geography and Sociology with NUI Galway's Environmental Change Institute, and Trinity College Dublin, have recently begun a four-year research project to examine household consumption. Funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the project is the first of its kind to look at sustainable consumption in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The research is seeking to address the difficult questions that remain regarding how a shift towards more sustainable consumption might be encouraged, measured and governed. Sustainable consumption describes the use of goods and services that meet people's needs while also minimising the impact on the environment. The project, entitled ConsEnSus (Consumption, Environment and Sustainability), will examine behaviour around four key areas of household consumption - transport, energy, water and food. According to ConsEnSus project co-ordinator, NUI Galway's Dr Jessica Pape: "In these times of peak oil and potential water charges and carbon taxes, never before has the question of sustainability been so important for every individual. A key output of the ConsEnSus project will be to make recommendations for local and national programmes concerning sustainable consumption policies. This will provide a platform which supports the consumer to make choices which support the environment". Dr Martina Prendergast, Development Manager of the Environmental Change Institute, said: "The Institute is delighted to support this novel project because research in the field of sustainable consumption is still in its infancy in Ireland, both North and South. While strides are being made in the area of calculating the cost to the environment of manufacturing and transporting products for consumer use, it's very early days". The research project will include face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,500 households across counties Galway, Dublin and Derry. The aim is to investigate public attitudes and awareness of the environmental impact of their consumer behaviour and the factors which influence household consumption. Dr Pape added: "In the coming months, in selected regions of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, you may just find us knocking on your door. We are really hopeful about the public's co-operation as this project is about jointly supporting individuals and the environment. The aim is to enable individuals and policy makers to make sustainable choices and take sustainable actions. So, to make it work, we need people and their input". The ConsEnSus project is funded through the Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for the Environment (STRIVE) Programme. For more information visit www.consensus.ie
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