Reference is often made to the need to promote 'sustainable lifestyles'. Much research has examined the components of sustainability at a sector level (energy, transport, built form, etc.), but little work in the UK has directly audited complete daily living patterns in terms of their sustainability, in environmental, economic and social terms, taking simultaneous account of the use of structures/facilities and the actions of individuals and households. This is an important omission both technically, because there are likely to be significant interactions between sectors, and in terms of encouraging behavioural change, since people are interested in knowing how becoming 'more sustainable' - whatever that means - is going to affect their lifestyle, as a whole.
The objectives of this research are, within the limits of an exploratory study, to:
- Investigate the concept of a 'sustainable lifestyle' and provide an operational definition that knits together the various elements of sustainability;
- Develop indicators for measuring the components of the sustainability of lifestyles, across all facets of sustainability;
- Examine the sustainability of existing lifestyles of selected population groups in the UK, taking into account levels of local capacity;
- Explore the extent to which existing government policy initiatives in different sectors assist or impede the move towards greater sustainability;
- Identify the kinds of lifestyles, that are relatively sustainable, including an assessment of the 'sustainability gap' between where we are now typically and where we could be, given current knowledge and economic, social and cultural constraints;
- Address issues of how to make 'sustainable lifestyles' more attractive to the population at large.