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Perceptions of Sustainable Consumption
Increased awareness of the potential consequences of human induced climate change can be seen in the growth of efforts by civil society to encourage citizens to engage in more sustainable consumption practices. However, the willingness to engage in such practices may often be confined to those areas of consumption deemed more palatable for saving or efficiency orientated strategies. Certain consumption practices which are culturally embedded and accepted as social norms may come under less scrutiny and reflection in terms of sustainability goals. As part of work undertaken by the European Network for Research Good Practice and Innovation for Sustainable Energy (ENERGISE) an investigation of household energy related consumption practices was undertaken where households were asked if they would also be willing to reduce or abandon consumption in other areas in the future. Through a combination of household interviews and surveys, participants discussed their motivations, reasoning and perceptions of their own consumption patterns in the areas of travel, diet and mobility. An analysis of responses revealed a number of consistent themes. While participants exhibited high levels of both environmental awareness and a willingness to engage in more sustainable consumption practices, many reported their own personal limits in terms of reducing or abandoning certain areas of consumption. These included both internal (personal wants, domestic circumstances) and perceived external (norm conforming) motivations. Additionally, there was some evidence of moral licensing, with sustainable consumption efforts in day to day living perceived to offset potentially less regular luxury consumption.