In the drive to discover how to best tackle climate change, researchers have explored why the trend of sole responsibility being placed on consumer behaviour is not only wrong but harmful and how consumer responsibility can be applied.
In recent discourse about climate change, increasing responsibility has been placed on consumers to recognize their impact on the environment and to turn the situation around. The push for individual recognition of their role in the fight against climate change marks an important change in the conversation.
It has become increasingly clear that rather than the responsibility being shared by consumers and organizations to improve their environmental outputs, it has been more so shifted onto consumers. This trend of shifting away focus from corporate behaviour and focusing on that of the consumer, begs the question: can there be significant change, when for each small good the consumer does the overwhelming bad of the corporation counteracts it? Or is it a “two steps forward and ten steps back” situation?
It has been theorized that organizations often create problems in order to provide a specific solution that furthers their own interests. The problem of climate change is one that already exists, framing the problem as largely an issue of individual consumption is not only wrong but harmful.
While little actions are being taken in the right direction by individuals, giant actions are simultaneously being taken in the other by bigger entities. Straws are a perfect example: plastic straws having a negative impact on the environment, and especially marine life, businesses have pushed consumers to invest in reusable straws to lessen their impact.
However, behind those reusable straws, one must question the waste incurred in the process of its production, delivery methods and the packaging it comes in. Independent environmental consciousness is undoubtedly a good thing, still, there is a necessity to ensure the efforts of the individuals are not being invalidated by organizations.
The responsibility for environmental consciousness should be borne by all, on all levels. The consumer can fight climate change by their choices, but unless there is a big push for big corporations to take action to limit their own environmental impact, progress to a more sustainable society will be minimal.
Consumers have such an influence over the general market, by thinking consciously and acting accordingly, consumers can change the conduct of corporations. If we demand not only green products but also green means of production, and support brands who supply it, that would be a giant step in consuming our way out of climate change.
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Image courtesy of Markus Spiske via Unsplash