A Realistic Approach to Sustainability

Written by Daniele Pieroni

 

A single purchase won’t reverse the lasting effects of climate change. Although many of us recognize the dire state of our environment, the notion of a quick solution has gotten popular. When framed as transformative, a product’s allure is tied to positive messaging. This allows for advertisers to place emphasis on public perceptions surrounding climate change, without fully committing to the conversation. 

It’s a leveraging tactic. A customer’s transactions promise a better future. If they invest in a service or product, they too can be part of change. The narrative shifts away from the larger scope of our wasteful institutions, to individual choices and transactions. Although there are many issues with this tactic, this does put the power of choice into the hands of the consumers to indicate their values to large emitters.  

As a society, praising advancements that indeed make a difference is important, but cannot be divulged into blind trust.

When it comes to the large scope of pollution, certain industries are largely to blame, not individuals’ consumerism. Realistically, transitioning to technologies adept to minimizing our footprint will take time. Ideally, in a gradual march that stretches across the globe, most areas of life will come to reflect a more planet conscious approach. 

Companies are aware of how the customer base interacts with their products. The more we engage with better alternatives for the environment, the more we uphold standards that can be reproduced. Industries get convinced of the market potential of cleaner alternatives and we as individuals collectively change our ways. 

Therefore, by recognizing the role media can play in public rhetoric, we can expect and demand grander advancements. Keeping this at the forefront of the conversation is key, but it isn’t something we can opt to while ignoring accountability.

We must strive for greater responsibility in our systems, not just our commodities.

Unfortunately, individual choices alone won’t push the needle against climate change, but incremental changes as a society will. Consumer buyer power is a powerful force and each purchase, while not a silver bullet, is an indication to large companies what they value. The sooner we adopt a lifelong perspective, the sooner we can distance ourselves from marginal short term improvements.