From Green To Mainstream
As the world continues to awaken to the growing problems of the 21st century, in particular, the looming environmental crisis and the pressing necessity for new ideas and modes of thinking, many of the early adopters and those on the forefront of the sustainability movement seem to have grown uneasy as of late. There appears to be a growing sentiment among those in the global environmental community that as these concepts begin to trickle into the mainstream consciousness and begin to hold real sway in contemporary political discourse, that many of the important and certainly essential elements of the issues at hand will become watered down. Specifically, in attempting to build a genuine identity around the concepts and processes of sustainability, many compromises will have to made in order to facilitate the greater shift in cultural perception necessary to make tangible solutions politically feasible.
To which I respond…
Of course many compromises will have to be made in the fostering of political capital and momentum. You can’t expect the average American understand the complexities of the policy making process, let alone an ecosystem. It’s hard enough to get that policy maker to understand an ecosystem.
My point is just because the Jones family thinks they are saving the world by driving a hybrid and using better light bulbs is no reason to dismay. Despite the absolute negligibility of many of these individual consumer-driven practices on their own, just the positive associations fostered by those interactions are what make them worth spending time and energy on. Honestly, I could care less if every American family started to check their tire pressure more often or take shorter showers, the real victory in my eyes in that they have 1. developed a positive enough impression of whatever images and associations they have been fed around sustainable themes to not immediately become apathetic to whatever proposed ideas people may have, 2. the mainstream outlook on environmental issues has shifted favorably as of recently which solidifies positive associations and 3. just these associations, through the clever framing of issues and political maneuvering, are what have the real potential to be leveraged against the current system for larger institutional changes.
Thus, the average Joe should never have understand to deep complexities behind the importance of monetizing externalizes, for him we should just stick with coal emissions being unhealthy. Gradually, he will shift his behavior through the creation of incentivized spaces over the course of habit and the creation of norms. And now that he won’t oppose our efforts on outright instinct, a simple push in the right direction and a motion towards his neighbors should do the job. Knowing our audience is going to be the key to shifting larger institutions because once Joe sees that he can do it, he will start asking why we can’t.