“It’s Not Easy Living a Sustainable Lifestyle”: How Greater Knowledge Leads to Dilemmas, Tensions and Paralysis

Cristina Longo, Avi Shankar, Peter Nuttall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (SciVal)
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Providing people with information is considered an important first step in encouraging them to behave sustainably as it influences their consumption beliefs, attitudes and intentions. However, too much information can also complicate these processes and negatively affect behaviour. This is exacerbated when people have accepted the need to live a more sustainable lifestyle and attempt to enact its principles. Drawing on interview data with people committed to sustainability, we identify the contentious role of knowledge in further disrupting sustainable consumption ideals. Here, knowledge is more than just information; it is familiarity and expertise (or lack of it) or how information is acted upon. We find that more knowledge represents a source of dilemma, tension and paralysis. Our data reveal a dark side to people’s knowledge, leading to a ‘self-inflicted sustainable consumption paradox’ in their attempts to lead a sustainable consumption lifestyle. Implications for policy interventions are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-779
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
Early online date9 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2019


  • Sustainability
  • Actual behavioural control
  • Attitude-behaviour inconsistencies
  • Barriers to sustainability
  • Consumer compromises
  • Consumer knowledge
  • Sustainable consumption
  • Consumer compromises
  • Consumer knowledge
  • Attitude-behaviour inconsistencies
  • Sustainable consumption
  • Barriers to sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Law
  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Business and International Management


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