The Elgar Companion to Sustainable Cities provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and applying the methods and strategies for cities to attain a more sustainable future.
Against a backdrop of unprecedented levels of urbanization, 21st century cities across the globe share mutual concerns for the challenges they face. This Companion focuses on the importance of the city as a critical building block for a more sustainable future within broader subnational, national and continental contexts, and ultimately, within a global systems context. It discusses the sustainable strategies being devised, as well as the methods and tools for achieving them. Examples of social, economic, political and environmental sustainable policy strategies are presented and the extent to which they actually increase sustainability is analyzed. Topics explored include compact cities and urban metabolism; environmental justice; water resources planning and the impact of climate change on industry, food policy and urban design.
In Chapter 5, we explore opportunities for improving urban sustainability through strategies focused on consumer products. Consumer products are defined as 'any article, or component part thereof, produced and distributed for sale to … or for the personal use, consumption or enjoyment of a consumer in or around a permanent or temporary household or residence, a school, in recreation, or otherwise' (Consumer Product Safety Commission 2011). Although food is outside the scope of this definition, it also serves as an illustrative example for select sustainability strategies.
We present several strategies for improving the sustainability of these products, using case examples to illustrate them. Along with highlighting the potential benefits inherent to each one, the chapter conveys the associated tradeoffs that can occur when assessing sustainability performance from a product life cycle perspective. Some of the strategies presented here are in direct conflict with one another, and some can be easy to implement but are capable of lesser relative impact compared to those that are difficult to implement with much greater impact potential. The chapter does not serve as an endorsement of each strategy, much less all of them together, but rather as a presentation of the many opportunities available for making consumer products in cities sustainable, and the substantial benefits possible from doing so.