Essays on Consumer Wastefulness

  • Author / Creator
    Rawal, Saurabh Mukesh
  • Consumer wastefulness continues to be one of the most pressing issues in achieving sustainable development. While research on wasteful consumer behavior garners increasing attention, most of it is significantly limited by how we conceptualize waste, and consequently how we identify and reduce wasteful consumer behavior. In the first essay of my dissertation, I develop a new conceptualization of consumer wastefulness and provide a framework to study wasteful consumer behavior. I argue that the current consumer-centric definition of waste, based on how it is created, at the sole discretion of the consumers when they discard goods that they do not want or find useful, is inadequate and ineffective in reducing wasteful consumer behavior. In response, I take a societal perspective on waste by arguing that waste is the failure to responsibly use all the product’s utilities by its owner or someone else in society. This shift in perspective has significant implications for future research because it changes the way we identify, study, and reduce wasteful consumer behavior.
    My second essay provides an empirical test of one of my propositions about how consumers can be nudged to reduce the waste from the abandonment of possessions (e.g., a usable toaster that has been in storage for over a year) by disposing of such possessions to potential users in society (e.g., by selling or donating). Specifically, I theorize and demonstrate that, counter to what prior literature may suggest, anthropomorphizing abandoned products increases consumers’ willingness to find those products a new home by disposing of them to other users. Basically, when consumers anthropomorphize abandoned possessions, they tend to perceive possessions experience human-like social rejection, which makes them empathize with those possessions. This in turn increases consumers’ willingness to find those possessions a new home by disposing of them to others who are more likely to use (i.e., interact with) those products.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2022
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.