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Sustainable consumption: green consumer behaviour when purchasing products.

Young, William; Hwang, Kumju; McDonald, Seonaidh; Oates, Caroline J.


William Young

Kumju Hwang

Seonaidh McDonald

Caroline J. Oates


The 'attitude-behaviour gap' or 'values-action gap' is where 30% of consumers report that they are very concerned about environmental issues but they are struggling to translate this into purchases. For example, the market share for ethical foods remains at 5 per cent of sales. This paper investigates the purchasing process for 'green consumers' in relation to consumer technology products in the UK. Data were collected from 81 self-declared green consumers through in depth interviews on recent purchases of technology products. A green consumer purchasing model and success criteria for closing the gap between green consumers' values and their behaviour are developed. The paper concludes that incentives and single issue labels (like the current energy rating label) would help consumers concentrate their limited efforts. More fundamentally, being green needs time and space in people's lives that is not available in increasingly busy lifestyles. Implications for policy and business are proposed.


YOUNG, W., HWANG, K., MCDONALD, S. and OATES, C.J. 2010. Sustainable consumption: green consumer behaviour when purchasing products. Sustainable development [online], 18(1), pages 20-31. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 4, 2008
Online Publication Date Mar 10, 2009
Publication Date Feb 28, 2010
Deposit Date Aug 11, 2014
Publicly Available Date Aug 11, 2014
Journal Sustainable development
Print ISSN 0968-0802
Electronic ISSN 1099-1719
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 1
Pages 20-31
Keywords Ethical; Green; Environmental; Sustainable; Consumer; Purchase; Consumption; Behaviour
Public URL


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