An epiphany about change

I had a small epiphany yesterday. It wasn’t particularly positive however. Here it is:

People only change
when shit gets real. *

The issue of change (particularly in relation to sustainable living and climate change) is not a new topic – there are many books, articles, and thoughts out there about the best way to influence others or how to be an effective “change agent” and so on. It’s something I often think about and this little epiphany came to me when I was thinking about the pervasive resistance to change that is prevalent in most us.

Here’s the thing: in general, I believe that the average person has to be directly affected by something in order to make a change in their current thinking or behaviour.

  • Think about the people who only start going to gym after they’ve put on 10 kilos.
  • Or those that start a new healthier diet after their doctor tells them they’re about to have a heart attack.
  • The person who signs up for hospital insurance after being in a car accident.
  • Or those who start wearing sunscreen only after they’ve had a pre-cancerous mole removed.
  • And the people who stop drinking and driving only after they end up sending a night in jail.

You can see where I’m going with this…

change

People have to be forced into change. It’s a do or die (sometimes) situation. The shit has to hit the fan before we notice it and start to do anything about it.

This is why, I believe, that living a more sustainable life, making different choices about what you consume (food & products), using fewer resources etc is not mainstream. There is no immediate impending threat to most people. And so, the pressure is not on to make any change.

This little epiphany isn’t rocket science – most of us know this fact already – but I hadn’t really thought about it in terms of sustainable living before. I have always thought that it was about people not thinking, not knowing or not questioning their choices and actions, and that if they were just ‘enlightened’ they’d automatically change their minds and thereafter, their behaviours.

Maybe I’m just slow to come to this realisation, and probably because it’s a super depressing one – well, for me anyway. Because it means that the average Joe is not going to do anything anytime soon to lessen his impact on the world.

And where’s the hope in that?

* To qualify this, by “people” I mean the everyday person who happily continues in their little bubble of life, not thinking or worrying about anything other than their immediate concerns. The ‘average’ Joe. The majority of society (in my opinion, anyway).
When I refer to “change”, I am talking about behavioural change in terms of being aware of your impact on society at large and the planet in general. 

A green media frenzy?

News this week is that ex-British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, has passed away. That is most sad, but it does happen to all of us, eventually. She had her time and she made an impact in many ways, so in my books, she did very well in life. C’est la vi.

But as is the way of things these days, where everyone is up for public scrutiny or praise, we now see the green media harping on about how she was actually a green leader in her time.Read More »

George Monbiot sums it up.

George Monbiot’s latest post entitled “Forbidden Planet” sums up just exactly why the issue of climate change never seems to get the political attention that we wish it would. It’s not like we don’t know this stuff, but he just manages to articulate it so succinctly. The first sentence pulls no punches: “We cannot restrain climate change without a political fight against plutocracy.”

Please please please make sure you go and read it!

It’s a massively huge problem worldwide, and it’s one of the main reasons that I often feel so overwhelmed and depressed about the situation – without real politcal and economic changes and a scrapping of ‘business-as-usual’, we’re destined to leave future generations of all species in an increasingly miserable place – and for what? So a few people can be wealthy? It’s just not right.

 

PS: follow George on Twitter – he’s always posting great stuff.

Tackle litter

How funny is this video about tackling litter – literally?

A friend of mine reckons she could totally see me doing this. I admittedly harbour fantasies about telling people off about littering, so she’s not too far off the mark!!

The Joburg Green Map is live!

Following on from my previous post, I’m super pleased to announce that the Joburg Green Map website went live this past weekend! 

It’s the first step of our journey and I have a feeling it’s going to be a great journey! 

Please go and take a look at www.joburggreenmap.co.za and let me know what you think. Better yet, sign up and suggest a few green sites that I can add to our map!

And while you’re at it, follow us on Twitter on Facebook. :)

Joburggreenmap_website

The quiet before the storm

I’ve been rather quiet on my blog of late, and for that I apologise, but there is a great reason for it. I’ve been very hard at work on a green project called “The Joburg Green Map”. 

Jgm_logo_shaded_horiz_rgb_500pxwide

Basically it’s a map of Joburg that highlights anything and everything to do with ‘green’ and sustainable living.  So we’re talking about mapping everything from nature reserves and parks, recycling drop off spots, organic and farmers markets, all the way through to local businesses selling green products and services. 

The map will obviously be an ongoing and ever-changing resource and we’re hoping to get lots of input and support from the existing green community. The map lives online and will have a supporting website with nuggets of info about how to live a more sustainable life, as well as news, blogs and events. Ultimately we will produce printed versions of the map as a handy offline resource showing the most popular sites from the map.

I’ve been working on our branding, getting the website and social media set up as well as collecting data like mad to put onto the map – as you can imagine, it’s been a lot of work and hence the blog has taken a bit of a back seat.

We should hopefully go live in the next week or so (I’ll be sure to let you know!) but if you’re interested in the meantime you can find us on Facebook and Twitter in the meantime.

Stop the conferences!

I started to try to follow the high-level political game with regards to climate change in 2009 for the UN COP15 in Copenhagen. Many of the environmental NGOs were present there and held hope that binding global agreements would be met to help curb the climate crisis. In fact, the conference even became known as Hopenhagen. But the hope didn’t last long, as the politicians couldn’t agree on anything and the talks failed dismally.

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Smokers: please stop littering!

Cigarette_litter

If you have ever joined in a public-space clean up or simply taken it upon yourself to collect litter from your neighbourhood, you will know that cigarette butts are a complete pain in the butt!

Difficult to pick up and with hundreds of them collecting in the gutters and under bits of grass and weeds that have managed to grow through cracks in the tar, they’re by far the largest type of litter out there. They might not look as unsightly as plastic bags or bottles because they’re small, but believe me – they’re definitely the bulk of litter lining our streets.

I know this first hand from doing litter clean ups, but my claim is supported by the recent stats from the latest International Coastal Cleanup driven by the Ocean Conservancy (of which SA took part). Of the top 10 types of litter found in coastal trash, cigarette butts are number one – and they outnumber the rest of the items by almost a million. *

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Read More »