The product-service system (PSS) concept has been proposed as a way of dealing with unsustainable patterns of consumption in the business-to-consumer (B2C) domain. Existing alternatives to traditional consumption based on ownership, such as car sharing, communal washing centres and tool sharing schemes, indicate that more sustainable patterns of consumption may be found for other household functions. However, the low profile of these examples in society and on the market calls for a query into factors that may facilitate or hinder broader acceptance of more sustainable alternatives. In this study, the aforementioned examples are analysed from institutional and product service system perspectives, and it is suggested that the embodiment of alternative consumption patterns into every day routines depends on institutional arrangements (regulatory and normative), on how the product service systems are designed and applied in practice, and oil the socio-cultural background of the society the systems are implemented in. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.