Eight Tons of Material Footprint - Suggestion for a Resource Cap for Household Consumption in Finland

Michael Lettenmeier, Christa Liedtke, Holger Rohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


The paper suggests a sustainable material footprint of eight tons, per person, in a year as a resource cap target for household consumption in Finland. This means an 80% (factor 5) reduction from the present Finnish average. The material footprint is used as a synonym to the Total Material Requirement (TMR) calculated for products and activities. The paper suggests how to allocate the sustainable material footprint to different consumption components on the basis of earlier household studies, as well as other studies, on the material intensity of products, services, and infrastructures. It analyzes requirements, opportunities, and challenges for future developments in technology and lifestyle, also taking into account that future lifestyles are supposed to show a high degree of diversity. The targets and approaches are discussed for the consumption components of nutrition, housing, household goods, mobility, leisure activities, and other purposes. The paper states that a sustainable level of natural resource use by households is achievable and it can be roughly allocated to different consumption components in order to illustrate the need for a change in lifestyles. While the absolute material footprint of all the consumption components will have to decrease, the relative share of nutrition, the most basic human need, in the total material footprint is expected to rise, whereas much smaller shares than at present are proposed for housing and especially mobility. For reducing material resource use to the sustainable level suggested, both social innovations, and technological developments are required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-515
Number of pages28
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • sustainability
  • Consumption
  • Ecological backpack
  • Household
  • lifestyle
  • Material footprint
  • MIPS
  • Natural resources
  • Resource cap
  • Transition

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