So I write this blog about sustainability and suddenly a thought occurs, just what does sustainability mean to people? By people I mean every day people, I have studied a related degree for the past three years so maybe I have a different insight to sustainability than everyday people in very different professions.
There will be countless academic studies that have endless results concerning what sustainability means to people, but most of these will of course be read by academics also. So to keep things 'down to earth' I will give my opinion on what I think sustainability means to people, from a view point of what people are exposed to.
The first thoughts about public exposure to sustainability surround taxation, if you drive a car that pollutes more you pay more. So maybe people think that sustainability means taxes? They could be right. A second thought would be local authority activities, perhaps you have to separate your waste into several bins, bags and boxes to satisfy your local authorities recycling scheme? In which case sustainability may represent a nuisance to you? Perhaps more common to the general public is climate change, but this is a boring phrase by now for many, it's surrounded by controversy (due to poor media coverage) and is in danger of becoming an old topic.
|Image from: lexus.co.uk|
I believe that for progress to be made sustainability needs a face lift. Perhaps this is the role of the private sector as this is where the money is, it's most probably happening already. Take car adverts, it is hard to find a car advert these days that doesn't mention pioneering fuel efficiency or intelligent driving systems. Or TV adverts that mention the 'eco' options of their current model, maybe even banking adverts that talk of 'tomorrow's world' or the adverts of energy companies that are always mentioning sustainability.
|Image from: ecoyourlife.com|
So maybe it is the case that sustainability is in front of the eyes of everyone, but doesn't mean all that much? I would say that it means more to businesses (with the rise of CSR and legal requirements) than it does to the general public as individuals. The thing is, if you really look for sustainability, it is everywhere. Whilst watching Chelsea v Newcastle on Sky Sports just a two days ago I noticed a Samsung advert flashing around the pitch side with references to a new 'ecobubble’ washing machine, then a car advert came on at half time for a new fuel efficient Lexus. Sustainability is everywhere, you just have to think about it.
In truth it is the individual's who embrace sustainability who will take the rewards, essentially by saving money. Buy a fuel efficient car now that has lower emissions and you will gain from lower taxes and lower fuel bills. Buy a new electronic device that has energy saving technologies and see your electricity bill drop. That is what sustainability will mean to most people. It is the role of governments to drive the private sector to be more sustainable and push sustainable products, and then the general public will be exposed to sustainability on a more regular basis...without even realising.