In economic terms, what is consumption

Sustainable Consumption - The Search for the Right Measure

Could upper and lower limits help make our consumption sustainable? A research team from the University of Basel is looking for answers.

Our consumption demands a lot of resources. How can we make our consumption future-proof and sustainable in ecological, economic and social terms? Which resources are indispensable for a full and decent life? How can everyone be given access to such resources, including future generations? In the search for answers, the idea of ​​sufficiency has been discussed for some time: What and how much do people really need in order to be happy? Behind the idea of ​​sufficiency there are questions about the right level of consumer behavior. These questions are accompanied by the observation that higher consumption does not necessarily lead to greater satisfaction in life.

Shaping consumption in a sustainable way

In a world in which natural and social resources are limited, people in a society could agree on lower limits for what can be guaranteed and upper limits for what is permissible - according to a currently discussed proposal. In the context of so-called consumption corridors, everyone should be able to lead a fulfilling life without their own consumption behavior being restricted or even made impossible for other people. The suggestion to think about such minima and maxima is controversial. The project “Sustainable Consumption - The Search for the Right Measure” at the University of Basel is dedicated to fundamental questions related to this proposal.

Interdisciplinary research

The goal of sustainable development is to ensure that all people have their needs met and a good life. The prerequisite for using minima and maxima is that there are needs that can be considered "protected". “Protected needs” are those that all people in a society should have a right to be satisfied. What needs could be given this status in Switzerland? The research project explores such needs with the help of scientific approaches from various disciplines (philosophy, law, psychology, medicine, happiness research) and through a representative social science survey. It is also examined how people in Switzerland generally react to the suggestion of lower and upper limits for consumption. The results should help to clarify how popular the proposal for consumption corridors would be in Switzerland.


Mercator Foundation Switzerland
Katia Weibel
+41 44 206 55 89
[email protected]