Nobody was Dirty: disrupting inconspicuous consumption in laundry routines

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Collective conventions play a significant role in resource consumption, in particular habitual, inconspicuous consumption ingrained in daily practices. To embed pro-environmental default practices in everyday life, an understanding of materiality, habits and cultural context is useful. Household rituals consume environmentally critical resources; laundry provides an example of this phenomenon, cleanliness collective conventions leading to inconspicuous routinised consumption of laundry resources (water, energy).
Intervening into cleanliness conventions, 31 people in Melbourne were engaged to wear the same pair of jeans for three months without washing them. Transcripts from interviews about their experience were used to draw insights on how individual courses of actions are shaped by collective conventions. Participants’ experience of materiality, habits and cultural context indicate that to save environmental resources shifting collective conventions may be more effectual than challenging individual routines. This paper explores some of the opportunities in intervening into the inconspicuous consumption of laundry routines and shifting collective conventions towards low wash acceptance, with implications for other mundane resource-consuming lifestyle practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-421
JournalJournal of Consumer Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

Free keywords

  • collective conventions
  • routine
  • inconspicuous consumption
  • interventions
  • cleanliness


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