Transforming Household Consumption: From Backcasting to HomeLabs Experiments

Published by SHARECITY on the 3rd March 2015.

Following the rhetoric of an impending “perfect storm” of increasing demand for energy, water, and food, it is recognized that ensuring sustainability will require significant shifts in both production and consumption patterns. This recognition has stimulated a plethora of future-oriented studies often using scenario, visioning, and transition planning techniques. These approaches have produced a multitude of plans for future development, but many valorize technological fixes and give limited attention to the governance and practice of everyday consumption. In contrast, this article presents empirical findings from a practice-oriented participatory (POP) backcasting process focused on home heating, personal washing, and eating. This process provided spaces for collaborative learning, creative innovation, and interdisciplinary interaction as well as producing a suite of ideas around promising practices for more sustainable household consumption. Further action is required, however, to explore how such ideas might be translated into action. The article concludes by outlining how collaborative experiments among public, private, civil society, and citizen-consumers, or HomeLabs, provide a means to test and evaluate the promising practices developed through POP backcasting. Key Words: governance, social practices, socioecological systems, sustainable consumption, transformations.

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