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Sustainable Product Indexing: Navigating the Challenge of Ecolabeling

Jay S. Golden, Nicholas School of the Environment and Nicholas Institute, Duke University Durham, North Carolina.
K. J. Dooley, Supply Chain Management, W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University
J. M. Anderies, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University
B. H. Thompson, Woods Institute for the Environment; Stanford Law School, Stanford University
G. Gereffi, Center on Globalization, Governance and Competitiveness, Duke University
L Pratson, Energy and Environment Program, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University


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There is growing scientific evidence that improving the sustainability of consumer products can lead to significant gains in global sustainability. Historically, environmental policy has been managed by bureaucracies and institutions in a mechanistic manner; this had led to many early successes. However, we believe that if policy concerning product sustainability is also managed in this way, negative unintended consequences are likely to occur. Thus, we propose a social–ecological systems approach to policy making concerning product sustainability that will lead to more rapid and meaningful progress toward improving the environmental and social impacts of consumer products.

Key words

consumer products, ecolabeling, sustainable indexing, sustainability

Copyright © 2010 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087