Household sustainability labour and the gendering of responsibility for low waste living

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This article explores the nature of domestic labour involved in sustainability transitions at the household level, with waste reduction as an exemplar. We draw on national survey data (N = 2717) from Australia, and qualitative data from a participatory action project working with 34 householders on experiments in low waste living. We found low waste living was challenging work mentally, physically and interpersonally and required information, skills and the resources of time and money. Waste reduction in households also required relational labour inside and outside the household. On the basis of existing literature and our findings we theorise that sustainability labour is comprised of five overlapping elements: physical, cognitive, relational, economic and political tasks. We argue that reducing waste is an example of sustainability labour that is led largely by women, as they work to change household practices and the systems in which these are embedded, towards a more sustainable future.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Feb 2024


  • domestic labour
  • gender
  • household
  • sustainability
  • waste

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