Sustainable Consumption and the Importance of Neighbourhood: A Central City/Suburb Comparison


This paper applies urban and environmental sociological theory to survey data on self-reported sustainable consumption practices, using a matched sample of central city and suburban residents in Edmonton, Alberta. We use cluster analysis to create an ordinal typology of four types of consumers, conduct an analysis of variance to characterize the resultant clusters, and perform logistic regression to predict the net effect of urban and neighborhood context on sustainable consumption practices. We find that neighborhood and environmental attitude are the strongest predictors of sustainable consumption practices. We conclude by arguing many sustainable activities are more difficult to incorporate into daily routine when residing in the suburban neighbourhood.

While suburban residents may feel strongly that they should consume less, their geographic location appears to significantly constrain their ability to meaningfully reduce their own consumption. This urban Canadian case study has implications for middle class environmental practices in other North American urban and suburban settings.