A policy agenda for changing our relationship with consumption

Iain R. Black*, Deirdre Shaw, Katherine Trebeck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
66 Downloads (Pure)


In this Government Initiatives contribution, we present policy recommendations made available to the Scottish Government on how to change Scottish consumers’ relationships with material goods and so contribute to its greenhouse gas emissions targets. Rather than focusing on the individual actions of consumers, we discuss how the underlying neoliberal political narrative must be addressed as it creates the conditions in which invidious materialism can occur. We then propose an alternative conceptualization of marketing that would harness marketing tools and concepts to help build connections between people and stimulate demand for pro-environmental, prosocial, consumption. This function stands in contrast to marketing acting in a way that contributes to the fragmentation of society and degradation of our planet. A series of controls on marketing are then outlined, which seek to facilitate changes to current dominant consumption narratives including using material input labelling as a mechanism to restrict unethical marketing practices. Overall, these ideas represent a more interventionist perspective, but one that we deem necessary when considered against the scale of the task now facing humanity in avoiding catastrophic climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-15
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date28 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2017


  • Advertising to children
  • Controlling marketing
  • Materialism
  • Narratives
  • Sustainable consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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