I started writing this in a newsletter but it got so long that I decided to turn it into a blog post.
Before you read: this blog post is not meant to be negative. I think climate (or any kind of) activists are incredibly brave. It’s not easy to put yourself in the firing line and truly hold your ground. So please do not take this as a blasting of climate activists. Similarly, if you are a climate activist, please do not take this personally. I am writing because I’m interested in the psychology of environmental-won’t-changers and how to encourage more people to do their bit. I would love a conversation around the topics below! We need to constantly learn from each other.
This week I listened to Aisling Bea on Jessie Ware's podcast "Table Manners" - she discussed the reasons behind her decision to become pescatarian, as well as the climate crisis and how the top 10% (mostly those of us - of which I am one - in the west) have profited from the suffering of the 90%. It's well worth a listen as she's super eloquent and not preachy - rare at the moment in these debates, I think.
How do we continue to be creative and enjoy life, to provide employment and income, whilst the climate crisis is such an emergency? I'm genuinely interested in hearing your opinions, as a lot of what I read online contains mostly ultimatums - you must stop purchasing, you must stop this, that - what would the impact be of this, I wonder? How will parents support their families, elderly parents, communities? It takes time to provide other options and often it feels a lot like there are many voices screaming ‘but there isn’t time’ over and over again, with no alternative solution for survival. Do people just stop working? It feels like a very privileged position to hold and an opinion that is unlikely to amount to much good.
Is it turning more people away from the climate’s cause - what can often be seen as over-reaching piety can make some people uncomfortable and push them in the opposite direction, just because. I work in an office where many accept the climate is struggling but there are opinions that climate activism is for hippies. Trying to stop people going to work (as the Extinction Rebellion protests did a few months ago) ignores that many people get a sense of purpose from work and, even more importantly, cannot survive without it.
I've been thinking of this for a while - it's part of the reason why I produce the ezp jumpsuits in the U.K., so I can regularly visit the factories to ensure the worker's welfare, with the smallest environmental footprint. It is also why I chose to make them from sustainable materials, although recently I’ve read a few things that have made me think differently about some of the fibres I use (more on that further down).
Is this a half arsed attempt at greenwashing? I really hope not but I am aware that it could be taken as so.
I, of course, wholeheartedly agree that we need to cut back. We absolutely need to slow down and to understand, as Aisling says, that we have profited from the luxury of consuming without limits for too long, at the expense of those considerably less fortunate than us, who are considerably more vulnerable.
But we can perhaps tone down the guilt shaming a notch or 2 and consider that life is not easy for many people. And that we must educate others with kindness. Maybe that way, we can convince a few others to join the cause, before it’s too late.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments!