Ghent University / Sustainable consumption
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The main concern is that a lot of consumption decisions are made without a lot of thought and even if we think about it, there is an overload on contradictory information on how to act. In our research for BE4life, our research center that focusses on increasing well-being of people by stimulating sustainable, healthy and ethical consumption, we test how we can change these rather automatic decisions. I try to break my eating habits by eating vegan/vegetarian/local at least 3 times a week and limit red meat to once a month. I am gradually replacing all my cleaning and cosmetic products with sustainable options. When I want to buy something (clothes for example) I look mostly for second hand products and I wait for a couple of weeks to make sure that I really need the product. But I find it difficult to transfer my concern into actions. It is hard to break habits, especially when the sustainable way of living is sometimes more difficult (and more expensive). Small changes in the choice environment help me make more sustainable decisions without putting a lot of effort in it. OMy fridge contains mostly vegetarian options which helps me to limit meat intake. I have subscribed to several sustainable lifestyle that regularly send me updates. These little steps make a sustainable option more easily available and top-of-mind so I will automatically use it more. And it helps, it becomes more easy and ‘normal’ to consider sustainability issues in my daily decisions. Policy should make it more easy to act sustainable by giving priority to sustainable options. If they just make sustainable products the norm by increasing availability, making it more affordable and attractive, people will follow. Policy and politicians should also lead by example and consider sustainability in every decision they make.