Sufficiency – a corporate responsibility within sustainable business?
William Young and Frank Figge, University of Leeds, United Kingdom
There is nothing new about the debate over material sufficiency for individuals or resources sufficiency for companies, but the debate over the corporate responsibility of consumers' sufficiency is new. Fast food outlets such as McDonalds are being pressured into reducing the size of their unhealthy offerings such as burgers and fries, and offer healthier food such as salads and fruit. Pressure groups have long advocated a switch to green consumerism but are starting to change tactics to a message of reducing consumption patterns. The question that this workshop will address is if sufficiency is really a corporate responsibility within sustainable business?

Ultimately, sufficiency in terms of sustainable development and business is about reducing the environmental impact now and in the future, while also increasing the quality of life of individuals. Sufficiency, unlike efficiency, reduces the environmental impact by restricting output or value created. There is a big difference between companies irresponsibly promoting products, such as fatty foods to children and actually limiting the amount of a product a person can consume. For example, does selling chocolate go against the ‘sufficiency'? Chocolate companies (including fairtrade companies) certainly do not restrict/ration the number of bars of chocolate a customer can consume. They do not ‘educate' consumers on the harm of a high sugar diet or provide labelling beyond legally required. Does this mean that the company fails sustainable business because its product can have negative health impacts?

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