The day after the Australian election in which the political party with the fewest climate policies won, I took some time to reflect on why “The Climate Change Election” didn’t live up to its name. I kept coming to the one conclusion: the green community had failed to communicate the consequences of climate change in a way that would resonate with the vast majority of Aussies.
Concerned with short-term priorities, Australians couldn’t reconcile the long-term consequences of a changing climate with their present need for financial security. In addition, the climate change message had become dogmatic and preachy, seemingly pitched from the elite, privileged and wealthier corners of the country. While pre-election surveys revealed that climate change was a top priority for respondents, Election Day proved that this wasn’t true for most voters. Instead, the ‘silent majority’ wanted more jobs, lower taxes, cheap energy and no changes to superannuation schemes and negative gearing benefits.
As someone already living on one end of the sustainability spectrum (after a nine-year journey which started in Melbourne and now sees me living and working in regional Queensland on an off-grid certified organic farm powered by solar energy) and still mulling over the election results, I took to social media to get a better understanding of the challenges facing people striving to live sustainably. So I posted this question on Instagram Stories the other day:
What do you find most challenging in your eco lifestyle journey?
The answers that came through were unsurprising. Even in a community of conscious folk, the responses echoes the sentiments of people outside of it. Family and friends have long shared their concerns about the affordability and accessibility of eco-friendly products and the time constraints and inconvenience of the lifestyle, and learning that some in the EWP community share these same concerns indicates that they are universal.
Anyway, here is just a sample of the responses we received:
“Convenience and availability now that we’ve moved away from the city and have a toddler.”
“Finding affordable ethical clothing brands.”
“Avoiding packaged food products such as ice-cream, cookies, chips etc.”
“Reducing waste in the workplace. A lot is out of our control.”
“Shame/embarrassment of trying to make sustainable choices at times.”
“Affordable bulk food options and ethical and sustainable plus-size clothes, bras and underwear.”
“Dealing with a backwards/slow government and finding a job that matches my ethics.”
“Explaining to others.”
“Fashion. My size. And travelling.”
“Affordability, accessibility and balancing cruelty-free, fair-trade and sustainability.”
“Trying to convince my family to follow my footsteps.”
While not all of these can be resolved immediately, it’s clear from the responses that there are many opportunities for government and businesses to step up and do more, particularly in the areas of environmental policy, waste minimisation, eco-friendly and biodegradable packaging, size offering, affordable pricing and sustainable job creation.
Now as part of our commitment to inclusivity and ensuring that the green message transcends class, gender, racial and cultural divides, we will continue to address the issues of accessibility and affordability by providing readers with resources that meet their and their family’s needs. We will also help our readers with case studies and how-to guides so that they feel confident in explaining the importance of sustainability and climate change with others.
If our followers are having problems accessing information on affordable and accessible sustainable brands and practical eco-friendly ideas inside and outside of the home, no doubt it will be the same for the wider public.
And since voters (and politicians) are focussed on short-term gains, reminding people that their everyday choices makes a climate difference is key. In this regard, celebrating the wins, no matter how small, is sound strategy.
How we tackle the above concerns and challenges will play a crucial role in closing the sustainability knowledge gap, ensuring eco living hits critical mass and that a party with progressive climate policies wins the next election.
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Feature image via Shutterstock.