9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN05 Sociology of Consumption

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Conditions of Sustainable Consumption Building II, C5.02

Increasing consumer awareness: A review of the Danish campaign One Tonne Less

Increasing consumer awareness: A review of the Danish campaign One Tonne Less

In the debates over sustainable consumption and production, a main concern has been to increase user awareness along the value chain. Based upon this ambition, programs have been released to inform and educate consumers to understand the environmental impact of everyday life consumption and to develop programs to change consumer behaviour towards a more sustainable pattern and lifestyle.
Nevertheless, a number of studies and general experience have shown that the effect of such campaigns usually is limited and the relationship between attitudes and behaviour is complicated .This is a well-known fact, in the scientific community and among politicians. This has not, however, undermined the popularity of this policy instrument. The information campaign remains a much used top-down tool addressing problems linked to health and consumption.
One Tonne Less is an ambitious Danish information campaign aiming at reducing CO2 emissions from individuals and households. It consists of two elements. The first objective is to raise Danish consumers? awareness of the links between their lifestyle choices and their share of CO2 emissions. In that sense it is a classic information campaign. The second objective is to commit Danish consumers and households to specific acts or courses of action to reduce their CO2 emissions preferably by one ton. This commitment is done on the One Tonne Less homepage. The campaign will also be evaluated according to these two criteria: 1) has the campaign increased consumer awareness, and 2) how many people have committed themselves to a one tonne reduction.
Even though the One Tonne Less seems to be an almost ?ideal? campaign - a possible future benchmark for similar initiatives ? the manifest success seems rather limited after all. We believe that the main constraint is that the framework around consumer behaviour has not changed. The responsibility is placed on the consumers and households. There is not opened any new windows of opportunities, the campaign is limited to inform about the existing opportunities. The paper is based upon analysis of web-sites, written materials and interviews with researchers and stakeholders.