About this Research Topic
The sustainable transition entails important challenges, particularly at the consumption level. It is more important than ever to reform consumption patterns in order to achieve sustainable development. Technology might play a fundamental role in this regard but extant research fails to deliver proper insights into crucial issues. First, technology has been mainly investigated in relation to its capacity to spur sustainability at the production and distribution level, through (a) digital tools (e.g., smartphone apps that help consumers keep track of their energy or water consumption), (b) green technology products (e.g., solar panels, electric vehicles, automatic kitchen composter), or (c) industrial ecology (e.g., cleaner production processes and green innovations implemented by manufacturers and promoted to consumers). As such, it mostly offered improvements on a technological path not necessarily considering itself as problem solver for sustainable consumption solutions to meet human needs.
Second, technology is often viewed as a positive impactor on sustainability. But technology also entails environmental challenges such as exponential increase in the exchange of data and associated energy consumption, or the production and recycling of electronic devices, to name but a few.
Third, sustainable satisfiers (i.e., sustainable products, services and practices that meet specific human needs) have grown in importance, but they still tend to appeal predominantly to specific niche markets or are chosen if other criteria are met, such as utilitarian aspects of low prices or convenience, but also more hedonic ones including social norm, or prestige.
This Research Topic thus is looking forward to contributions which help to close such research gaps and provide insights to at least one of the following aspects:
1) Which means are required to meet human needs, and which of these are technological?
2) How sustainable are the satisfiers suggested, and how to identify the most sustainable ones?
3) How can technology be used to motivate (nudge) consumers into making increased use of sustainable satisfiers and switch to more sustainable social practices?
We aim at investigating the role of technology for sustainability throughout the consumption chain of pre-purchase, purchase, consumption/use, disposal. Research on and from both developed and developing nations are of equal interest and relevance. We invite manuscripts to examine sociological and psychological perspectives to define the technology demand. They should have in mind the distinction between human needs and their – technical and non-technical – satisfiers. How such demands can be realized in the technology development system, and how their diffusion can be accelerated, are issues for analytical papers, but also for fact-based essays and vision descriptions embedding technologies in future social processes and structures. Both empirical and conceptual studies are welcomed in this collection.
Particularly, potential topics include the following without being limited to them:
• Obstacles to sustainable consumption in prevailing technology structures
• Alternative tech-powered sustainable consumption schemes to meet human needs (e.g., automated composting bins)
• Operationalizing technology demand in research and technology development
• Challenges and opportunities in marketing technologies supporting sustainable consumption
• Effectiveness of technology in responsible consumption
• Ethical and moral considerations in technology for sustainable consumption
• Comparison among countries in the use of technology for sustainable consumption
• Technology platforms supporting a sharing economy and collaborative consumption
• Regulating the use of technology in support of sustainable consumption
• Persuasive sustainability systems (PSSs) (i.e., systems that attempt to convince users to behave in a more sustainable way)
• Gamification-based approaches for sustainable consumption (i.e., the use of game design elements in non-game context, namely to spur sustainable consumption)
• Eco-feedback technologies (i.e., technologies providing feedback on individual / group behaviors with the objective to reduce environmental impact)
Keywords: Sustainable consumption, technology, eco-feedback technologies, persuasive sustainability systems, green platform economy, sharing economy, collaborative consumption, gamification-based sustainability, needs and satisfiers, technology demand, demand drive
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.