Palgrave Macmillan, 2009
The new economics of sustainable consumption : Seeds of change
Gill Seyfang, UK

"Farmer’s markets, community allotments, time banks and straw-bale housing are held up as pioneering ‘seeds of change’ in a groundbreaking new book based on research carried out in ENV. 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.

“Climate change is forcing us to rethink our lifestyles, but green consumerism won’t save the planet”, says Dr Seyfang, adding “mainstream approaches simply cannot deliver the radical changes we need for a sustainable society.”

In ‘The New Economics Of Sustainable Consumption : Seeds of Change’ (published by Palgrave MacMillan) she offers a fresh look at sustainable consumption, presenting a holistic ‘New Economics’ approach. She then 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.

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.

“Sustainable development policies commonly overlook the benefits of small-scale community initiatives like these, yet they do deliver significant social, economic and environmental benefits”, argues Dr Seyfang. She proposes that government should support the growth and development of what she terms ‘grassroots innovations’, in order to harness the transformative potential of these activities and help achieve policy goals.

Dr Gill Seyfang holds a prestigious RCUK Academic Fellowship in the School of Environmental Sciences, and is developing a programme of research around Low-Carbon Lifestyles.


Introduction : A Consuming Issue

Sustainable Consumption : A Mainstream Agenda

Sustainable Consumption and the New Economics

Grassroots Innovations for Sustainable Consumption

Sustainable Food : Growing Carrots and Community

Sustainable Housing : Building a Greener Future

Sustainable Currencies : Green Money from The Grassroots

Conclusions : Seedbeds for Sustainable Consumption


From website of Dr Gill Seyfang