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The Prospects and Limits of Eco-Consumerism: Shopping Our Way to Less Deforestation?
The Prospects and Limits of Eco-Consumerism: Shopping Our Way to Less Deforestation?
Peter Dauvergne, Jane Lister
June 30, 2010
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Source: Organization Environment June 2010 vol. 23 no. 2 132-154


Firms and governments are increasingly turning to voluntary programs such as eco-certification and eco-labeling as core instruments for managing forests. To probe the prospects and limits of this shift toward eco-consumerism as a mechanism for global change, this article analyzes its value for improving forest management globally. It reveals that eco-consumerism is improving some aspects; yet, for both supply and demand-side reasons, the advances are incremental and unequal and overall doing little to slow deforestation. The article therefore highlights the danger of overestimating the potential of voluntary eco-certification and advances a set of policy and management solutions to enhance the effectiveness of eco-consumer initiatives such as forest certification. Solutions include internal incremental adjustments to certification programs, coordinated alongside more fundamental external systemic changes in the marketing, industrial use, and valuation of the world’s forests.

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