Consumption, waste and (un)sustainable development: Reflections on the Dutch holiday of Queen's day

Helen Kopnina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article aims to interrogate manifold features, uses and manifestations of the term sustainability through critical reflection on paradoxes of "sustainable development." This article will discuss the implication of the environmental Kuznets curve hypothesis, postmaterialist values theory, and ecological modernization theory all of which expresses a certain relationship between the wealth of a nation and their environment impact. According to these theories, during early industrialization and development, economies use materially intensive resources, until a threshold is reached after which the economic and technological changes allow for more sustainable material use. Simultaneously, it is believed that concerns about environment are secondary to economic concerns and that satisfaction of material needs will lead to higher environmental awareness. The aim of this article is to reflect upon a gap in the literature of empirical case studies to support or refute these theories. While there is a wealth of publications detailing various unsustainable practices in different countries, studies addressing the implication of the accuracy of the triple theories for the global enterprise of development are rare. To compensate for this oversight, this article will address the case of Dutch Queen's day celebrations in April 2013, based on the document analysis. In generalizing the case of Dutch Queen's day celebrations to global consumption patterns, this article considers consequences of Western consumption model for the enterprise of global development. It is argued that the Dutch case supports evidence of the (un)sustainability of a consumptive economy operating within a global market. Alternative framework based on cradle-to-cradle and circular economy approaches is proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-322
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironment Systems and Decisions
Issue number2
Early online date21 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


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