Sustainable Consumption and Production: New Value Creation Models on the Rise

Are you a prosumer? You most probably are – if you have ever grown a tomato on your own, repaired your bike or mended your own clothes. Most of us are not even aware that we take part in active value creation every day! And we do this for good reasons – whether as a hobby, for financial savings or a sense of responsibility for future generations. Indeed, as our ProMoNa project has shown: prosumption holds major sustainability potentials – if done right.

A growing part of our society want a more personal, trustful and sustainable way of production and consumption. Many people miss these aspects in our conventional markets and are motivated to participate in alternative value creation models which offer participation and empowerment. There are consumers who engage in production (e.g. community based agriculture or DIY), in marketing (bloggers), in food distribution and waste management (foodsharers) and in recycling or upcycling (repair cafés). Consumers are engaging in every step of the supply chain and, by doing so, become what we call “prosumers”.

Many of these prosumption patterns are turning into distinct organisations, i.e. they are institutionalised at a local level (and beyond). They are changing the method of production but also of doing business in general!

These different value creation models actually hold a considerable sustainability potential if the members consider five core principles, the 5Cs of sustainable prosumption:

  1. Community: Prosuming together with others not only saves money, but also time and resources and is therefore more sustainable than doing it alone.
  2. Consistency: The longer we participate in a prosumption acitivity, the more we are able to integrate it into our daily life routines and become “better” in it regarding resource, time, and cost savings.
  3. Close Proximity: Rebound effects may occur if we, for example, participate in a Community Based Agriculture initiative, but have to go there by car. This is why prosumption should take place close by – which, of course, also includes proximity and community created through the internet.
  4. ReCycling: Using what already exists, is more sustainable than acquiring new resources for prosumption. This is why reparing or upcycling is more sustainable compared to other DIY activities.
  5. Coordinate: Following a clearly defined and structured value creation model helps with the organization of a stable community. If each member knows what he has to do, if there is a clear cost model and a focused communication strategy, the model is more likely to succeed in the long term.

The ProMoNa project ended in February 2019. If you like to read more about it and our findings, have a look at our publications (only in German):

Also, we would be happy to learn more about your interests and thoughts with regard to sustainable prosumption.

Please contact Imke Schmidt for further questions.


Photo by rocknwool on Unsplash