Material Demand Reduction workshop for Royal Society Philosophical Transactions

04 October 2016

On 26 – 28 September 2016 the Use Less Group hosted a workshop on Material Demand Reduction in St Catherine’s College, Cambridge. A key strategy for climate mitigation is "Material Efficiency" - living well with less material production. The barriers to implementing the many technical opportunities fall outside of the science and engineering background, and therefore this was a multidisciplinary event, with speakers covering a range of disciplines including engineering, theology, history, fashion studies, economics, innovation studies, public health, sociology and psychology. A full list of papers is included below.

The topics provoked much animated discussion and debate. The results will be published as a special edition of Royal Society Philosophical Transactions A.

First authors and papers:

  • Dr. Barbara Bodenhorn, University of Cambridge, “Climate Strategies: thinking through Arctic examples”
  • Dr. André Cabrera Serrenho, University of Cambridge, “The impact of limiting the average weight of cars on global emissions savings: the future car fleet in Great Britain”
  • Dr. Andrew Davison, University of Cambridge, “The living power and prime agent of all human perception: responding to climate change with imagination not fantasy”
  • Prof. Kate Fletcher, London College of Fashion, “Reducing demand for material through usership: an exploration of design, durability and fashion clothes”
  • Prof. Koen Frenken, Utrecht University, “Political economies and environmental futures for the sharing economy”
  • Prof. Ian Gough, LSE, “Recomposing consumption: climate policy, human needs and social wellbeing”
  • Prof. Timothy Gutowski, MIT, “Why we use more materials”
  • Dr. Tim Kasser, Knox College, “Living both well and sustainably: a review of the literature with some reflections on future research, interventions and policy”
  • Prof. Hamish Low, University of Cambridge, “Are prices enough? The economics of material demand reduction”
  • Prof. Theresa Marteau, University of Cambridge, “Towards environmentally sustainable human behaviour: targeting non-conscious and conscious processes”
  • Prof. Jaideep Prabhu, University of Cambridge, “Frugal innovation: doing more with less for more”
  • Dr. Thomas Roberts, University of Surrey, “Why on earth did I buy that?! A study of regretted consumption practices”
  • Dr. Sandy Skelton, University of Cambridge, “The carbon price — a toothless tool for material efficiency?”
  • Prof. Joe Smith, Open University, “TV stories of stuff: the limits and potential of broadcast storytelling about sustainability, climate change and material demand”
  • Prof. Lorraine Whitmarsh, Cardiff University, “Who is reducing their material consumption and why? A cross-cultural, longitudinal analysis of dematerialisation behaviours”
  • Prof. Ernst Worrell, Utrecht University, “Energy demand for material in an international context”
  • Prof. Nicholas Xenos, Umass Amerst, “The austere life”
Research Area: 
Whole Systems Analysis