Informing sustainable consumption in urban districts: A method for transforming household expenditures into physical quantities


Interventions targeted at district-level are a potentially effective way to reduce consumption-based urban impacts; however, a systematic method for accounting these impacts at district scale has not yet been developed. This article outlines a method for transforming household expenditure data into consumption quantified on a physical basis. Data sources are combined to calculate monetary value per unit mass for different products consumed by households. Socio-economic household archetypes are selected, and typical consumption for these archetypes is calculated by combining expenditure data from a household budget survey with the calculated monetary values per unit mass. The resulting physical quantities of different products consumed are envisaged as an essential part of performing district scale material flow analysis and urban metabolism studies, also as an input for assessing consumption-based environmental impacts and for designing sustainable consumption policies. The method was applied to characterise consumption in urban districts. The obtained results were used to assess of districts’ consumption-based impacts with life cycle assessment (LCA) and to inform design of sharing economy. The method was found to be an effective way to evaluate the demand for products in different districts; this in turn could inform objective measures to aid more sustainable urban consumption.

Leonardo Rosado
Leonardo Rosado
Associate Professor

Studying cities from an Urban metabolism perspective. Its flows and stocks, its functions and needs. To provide information towards urban planning and circular economy.