Seyfang, G. (2009) The New Economics of Sustainable Consumption: Seeds of Change (Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke) ISBN 978-0-230-52533-7 [paperback published 2011]
Climate change is forcing us to rethink our lifestyles, but green consumerism won’t save the planet – mainstream approaches simply cannot deliver the radical changes we need for a sustainable society. This book offers a fresh look at sustainable consumption, presenting a holistic ‘New Economics’ approach. It explores how grassroots community actions for sustainability are putting this into practice by experimenting with new ways of working, measuring value and progress, and expressing ecological citizenship. Farmer’s markets, community allotments, time banks and straw-bale housing are held up as pioneering ‘seeds of change’. Author Dr Gill Seyfang argues that these small-scale community initiatives for sustainability represent alternative ways of organising social and economic life, and could potentially grow and transform mainstream society.
Local organic food systems, low-impact eco-housing, and complementary currencies are examined to measure their success at delivering localized economies and inclusive communities, enabling people to reduce their ecological footprints, harnessing collective action and building new forms of social organization. Viewing these activities as innovative ‘green niches’, the book explores the opportunities for grassroots innovations to spread and influence wider society, and the barriers preventing them achieving their potential. The book argues that sustainable development policies commonly overlook the benefits of small-scale community initiatives like these, yet they do deliver significant social, economic and environmental benefits. Furthermore, government should support the growth and development of these ‘grassroots innovations’, in order to harness the transformative potential of these activities and help achieve policy goals.