Promoting sustainable consumption among university students: a systematic literature review

Yuri Enrique Herrera Burstein*, Niria Marleny Goñi Avila

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study aims to identify and analyze research that promotes sustainable consumption among university students, understand what areas of consumption were addressed, how consumption was intended to become more sustainable and what results were reported. Design/methodology/approach: A systematic literature review was conducted using the Scopus and Web of Science databases and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses methodology. Main criteria for inclusion were focus on changing the consumption behavior of university students, not just diagnosing them, and that students were directly involved in the efforts. Findings: A total of 1,619 articles were extracted, and 34 were included in the study. These selected investigations conducted between 2012 and 2022 focused on areas of consumption such as food, plastic waste, fashion, energy and water. Sustainable consumption was promoted through training programs ranging from one-hour seminars to full-semester courses, marketing and communication campaigns and direct experimentation and interventions. Most articles reported positive results. Research limitations/implications: This study is limited to research carried out to reduce current consumption by university students; it does not include research aimed at improving students’ professional skills for promoting sustainable consumption. Practical implications: This study compiles previous research on reducing consumption by university students in a structured manner according to the consumption area, applied strategy and the results obtained. Originality/value: This research is unique and will serve as a source of inspiration and consultation for academics and university managers concerned about human consumption. It presents successful projects and strategies that can be implemented in their own universities to make their students’ consumption more sustainable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-288
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023


  • Consumer behavior
  • Higher education
  • Student behavior
  • Sustainability
  • Sustainable consumption
  • University students


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