Report – From ‘I’ to ‘We’: Changing the narrative in Scotland’s relationship with consumption


Launch of the report this Thursday 3 December as part of Only Way is Ethics Glasgow Festival

OUR economic model premised on consumerism and a narrow narrative of ‘I’ is causing social and environmental harm and needs to be tackled head on by the Scottish Government, a new report, launched to coincide with the start of the Paris Climate Summit and the aftermath of the ‘Black Friday’ shopping binge, has argued.

You can access the full report here.

The report – published by the Common Weal, Glasgow University and Heriot-Watt University – argues that a shift is required “from ‘I’ to ‘We'” in Scottish politics, where the importance of social relationships and a sustainable ecology are prioritised above ‘invidious materialism’.

The authors – Dr Iain Black, Professor Deirdre Shaw and Dr Katherine Trebeck – place the rise of ‘the narrative of I’ in the move towards a me-first, neoliberal economy in Britain since Thatcher.


They argue that behavioural changes towards ethical consumption patterns will not be sufficient in addressing the scale of the challenge, so clearly in evidence at the Climate Talks under way in Paris.

The authors – who will present their report at a launch event on Thursday 3 December as part of Glasgow’s ‘Only Way is Ethics’ festival – outline a series of policy changes, as well as changes in the political lexicon, at local and national level that can help bring about the required shift.

These policy changes include:

– Make participation more desirable and possible by for example making entry to council sports facilities free, including entry to local authority swimming pools, open up park facilities, encourage sharing equipment through creating ‘libraries’, exclude shared and community goods from VAT.

– Developing skills through more access to lifelong learning, including a ‘national skills database’ where experts put on workshops to teach people skills

– Fund participation through subsidising community participation rather than the car and pharmaceutical industry. Make community volunteering tax deductible.

– Reform the role of marketing so it is a facilitator rather than a manipulator. This will involve redefining how it is taught and understood and controlling how it is currently practiced by for example banning marketing and advertising to kids

– Make the producer pay for the cost of commercial waste rather than local government and introduce a pollution price trading scheme so environmental harm is added on to cost.

Common Weal will be promoting 10 of the key ideas in deconsumerising Scotland and moving from ‘I’ to ‘We’ in infographics running up to christmas, a few of which are below:

Deconsumerising Scotland OCo Working-09

Deconsumerising Scotland OCo Working-03

Deconsumerising Scotland OCo Working-05