An Inquiry on sustainability and consumption through single-use disposable products

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2017
Özer, Damla
The research area of this study is sustainability, material culture, and sustainable consumption, and in this context it deals with the example of single-use disposable products. This thesis aims to explore the reasons for and implications of widespread use of single-use disposable products (SUDPs) in terms of sustainable consumption; to understand the underlying patterns of and challenges for responsible consumers` experiences with SUDPs; and to investigate how responsible consumers relate themselves to these products. The research carried out for this study is designed as qualitative, and content analysis is used as the main analysis method. Data collection is made through a survey carried out among responsible consumers on SUDPs with 191 participants from Turkey, followed by in-depth interviews with 16 people sampled among the survey participants. A similar survey was held in Japan with 160 participants, followed by a second survey held with six participants. The findings indicate that participants consider beverage packaging, plastic bags, and food packaging to be among the most problematic SUDPs, and plastics as the most problematic SUDP material due to ecological considerations. The continuing demand for hygiene, comfort, convenience, speed and mobility serve as persuasion and pretext for using SUDPs. The study reveals the gap between value and behavior regarding environmental issues as a major problem and challenge related to SUDPs, which means that environmental values do not always reflect onto peoples’ behavior. Another challenge is that participants often complain about a lack or insufficiency of alternatives for SUDPs. The thesis concludes with suggestions of possible solutions for decreasing the use of SUDPs. 

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Citation Formats
D. Özer, “An Inquiry on sustainability and consumption through single-use disposable products,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2017.