Ecological footprints and lifestyle archetypes: exploring dimensions of consumption and the transformation needed to achieve urban sustainability
Moore, Jennie (Jennie Moore (Jennie_Moore)) (author)
Rosen, Marc A. (editor)
© 2015 by the author; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
The global urban transition increasingly positions cities as important influencers in determining sustainability outcomes. Urban sustainability literature tends to focus on the built environment as a solution space for reducing energy and materials demand; however, equally important is the consumption characteristics of the people who occupy the city. While size of dwelling and motor vehicle ownership are partially influenced by urban form, they are also influenced by cultural and socio-economic characteristics. Dietary choices and purchases of consumable goods are almost entirely driven by the latter. Using international field data that document urban ways of living, I develop lifestyle archetypes coupled with ecological footprint analysis to develop consumption benchmarks in the domains of: food, buildings, consumables, transportation, and water that correspond to various levels of demand on nature’s services. I also explore the dimensions of transformation that would be needed in each of these domains for the per capita consumption patterns of urban dwellers to achieve ecological sustainability. The dimensions of transformation needed commensurate with ecological carrying capacity include: a 73% reduction in household energy use, a 96% reduction in motor vehicle ownership, a 78% reduction in per capita vehicle kilometres travelled, and a 79% reduction in air kilometres travelled.