Sustainability: From Excess to Aesthetics

Lyle K. Grant


Sustainability is defined as the operation of a steady-state economy in which natural resource inputs and waste-product outputs are held constant. Key issues in attaining a sustainability are addressing the problems of overconsumption of resource-intensive reinforcers, underconsumption of resource-light reinforcers, and lack of consumption skills that yield an enduring source of intrinsically reinforcing challenges and pleasures. Behavioral impediments to a sustainable society are described together with opportunities to achieve it. Opportunities emphasize sustainable futures people will find appealing rather than austere. These opportunities include a replacement of consumer culture with alternative value systems, embodied in John Stuart Mill's art of living, Tibor Scitovsky's cultural reawakening, B. F. Skinner's arts-based utopia, voluntary simplifiers, and the aesthetically-based values of Bohemian communities.


sustainability, overconsumption, steady-state economy, positional economy, advertising

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Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

And Behaviorists for Social Responsibility