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Journal of Consumer Sciences

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Postmodern consumers' consciousness of climate change and actions that could mitigate unsustainable consumption

D Ferreira, NJMM Marx-Pienaar, NC Sonnenberg

Abstract


Addressing the fast-paced lifestyles that postmodern consumers lead, and the impact thereof on the natural environment, is high on the agenda in many political, economic, academic and social circles. Issues relating to the true impact of consumer behaviour on the environment, and the ultimate sustainability thereof for future generations, is becoming more and more important. Along with these debates, there is a growing interest in constructs such as pollution, waste, greenhouse gases, climate change and unsustainable consumption. Although the problem at hand and the relevant constructs have received much needed attention, it is not clear whether the South African public fully grasps the problem and/or whether they are conscious of why they need to change their current ingrained habits and unsustainable consumer behaviour. This study investigated postmodern consumers’ knowledge of climate change and their subsequent food consumption practices. A non-probability, convenience sampling approach was used to recruit a sample (n = 302) of both male and female consumers residing in the greater region of Tshwane who differed in terms of age, income, and socio-economic backgrounds. The research identified certain sustainable consumption practices and revealed deficits with regard to consumers’ knowledge of climate change. It was found that consumers who are willing to live more sustainably struggled to do so due to societal pressures, poor support, and a knowledge deficit in terms of skills in climate intervention. It is evident that current societal situations limit the likelihood of consumers making concerted efforts to reduce their overall impact on the environment. This is believed to be due to consumers experiencing a deficit of adequate knowledge, skills and/or access to possible avenues that could assist them in being more sustainable, which is often a result of poor community, municipal, and retail involvement.




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