(searched for: doi:10.3726/cul012020.0005)
Frontiers in Sustainability, Volume 3; https://doi.org/10.3389/frsus.2022.958538
Popular literature and guidebooks on minimalism and decluttering have brought the idea of “less is more” into the mainstream. Although decluttering constitutes a central household chore in consumer societies, it is rarely communicated as work within the current popular minimalism discourse, but rather as an expression of self-care. Whether and to what extent this “lifestyle minimalism” can contribute to sustainable consumption has – with a few exceptions – not yet been studied in detail. In this article, decluttering is first conceptualized in between housework and self-care. Based on this work, potentials and limits for the promotion of sustainable consumption are outlined. Finally, initial insights from an ongoing citizen science project on decluttering in Germany are presented. The qualitative results from two workshops and two reflection exercises show that the main motivation for participants is the dissatisfaction with their multitude of possessions and the desire for fewer material possessions in the future. The decision to declutter can be understood as a window of opportunity in which individuals are willing to reflect on and realign their possessions and desires for goods. Thus, we argue that decluttering can be a relevant starting point for changing consumption behavior toward (more) sustainable consumption. At the same time, it remains unclear whether and to what extent the participants' willingness to change regarding possessions and consumption actually leads to more sustainable consumption behavior after decluttering. It is even conceivable that the newly gained space will stimulate additional consumption. Decluttering would then rather function as a catalyst for further consumption (and would have no or rather a negative contribution to sustainability goals). Further research is needed to shed light on this.
Sustainability, Volume 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14010410
With the rise in online purchases, returns polices have become more lenient to maximise sales, leading to increased product returns. This results in considerable costs to businesses due to complex returns systems, and environmental costs due to unnecessary transportation and waste. Unsustainable consumption poses a threat to our environment, and access-based business models whereby products are borrowed/rented rather than purchased have been proposed as a way to align customer needs, business success, and sustainability. Product returns often constitute a form of informal or illegitimate borrowing, as goods are bought with the intention of being returned. In this discussion paper we propose that, instead of being viewed as a threat to business, issues with high product returns could be seen as an opportunity to switch to an access-based model. As product returns escalate, businesses will need to invest substantially in their reverse supply chains. We propose that a more strategic approach might be to leapfrog the costly stage of developing more efficient returns systems, and move straight to formalising product returns as the new normal for those goods that would best suit an access-based model, so that processes are streamlined around borrowing and returning rather than around sales.