Journal of Consumer Policy

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 65–84 | Cite as

Life Events as Windows of Opportunity for Changing Towards Sustainable Consumption Patterns?

Results from an Intervention Study
  • Martina SchäferEmail author
  • Melanie Jaeger-Erben
  • Sebastian Bamberg
Original Paper


Strategies for motivating households towards sustainable consumption are confronted with the challenge of addressing seldom-reflected-upon routines, which cannot easily be changed. We investigate whether life-course transitions can serve as starting point for sustainable consumption interventions, assuming that during such transitions people already need to adapt their behavioural routines and are thus more receptive to interventions. The effects of two different campaigns (information mailing and personal consultation) were evaluated for people experiencing two different kinds of life events (childbirth and relocation). The experimental study found that the consultation campaign had significant effects on sustainable consumption concerning some of the focussed on behaviours, but did not have greater effects on the life-events groups. Mailing of information did not result in significant behavioural changes. To get a clearer picture about the impact of life-course transitions on everyday routines and susceptibility to interventions, additional qualitative interviews were carried out. The results indicate that everyday routines and consumption patterns change during life-course transitions, but with heterogeneous results regarding sustainability. The interviews revealed that the preparation phase preceding life events and a rather short period after them are decisive for changes in routine. Tentative explanations for the low impact of the consultation campaign on the persons in life-course transition are that the campaign addressed the target groups too late and that its design was not specifically adapted to these target groups.


Sustainable consumption Life events Mixed methods Sustainability interventions Everyday life 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martina Schäfer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Melanie Jaeger-Erben
    • 1
  • Sebastian Bamberg
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Technology and SocietyTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.University of Applied Sciences BielefeldBielefeldGermany

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