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I Can’t Get No Satisfaction: Deliberating Needs and Satisfiers in Sustainable Consumption
In this activity, students conduct auto-ethnographic research to explore established routines of satisfying needs through consumption and replace them with more sustainable ones.


By: Daniel Fischer (Wageningen University), Jordan King, and Carlos R. Casanova (both: Arizona State University)

Session type: Multiple sessions, Undergraduate/Graduate level, Small/Medium size


  • Wellbeing

  • Needs satisfaction

  • Personal consumption

  • Behavior change


Introduction to the teaching example:

The purpose of this exercise is to differentiate between basic needs and satisfiers connected to personal patterns of consumption as well as to point out satisfiers with a high potential to meet needs and produce more sustainable effects. 


Students choose solutions to address needs constructively and sustainably based on readings, group discussions, and self-reflection. As a first step, students are taught to discern between needs and satisfiers and then apply this knowledge to real-world situations in class (such as "are garment purchases necessities?"). They then pay attention to the satisfiers they use in their daily lives to satisfy their needs. Students reflect on the sustainability effects and level of need satisfaction observed in this process in order to better understand the impact that their satisfiers have on society, as well as their own personal needs. Students then discuss methods for replacing less sustainable needs-satisfiers with more sustainable ones in order to reach high levels of needs satisfaction in sustainable ways.

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