This social life

Are you really willing to change your habits to save the planet?

The way we’re trying to create action about climate change isn’t working. The rate of change is too slowWe need the mainstream to care. So we’ve looked to social media to understand what makes consumers decide to move from passive to active. Here are some highlights from our research findings.

Question: What are the individual barriers to climate action?

Answer:

Too much effort: Yes, it is true. Many folks give lip service to the idea of doing something about the climate, but when it comes down to it, it is just too much effort.

“We are too comfortable and will fight and refuse change at every step, even as it destroys the sky above us and the ground below us.”

Others wonder how they will be judged by future generations for their level of inaction.

“They mostly knew before it was too late, but it would have meant too many inconvenient lifestyle changes, so they carried on as they were.”

Impinges on my freedoms and rights: Related to “too much effort” is this idea that the required changes impact my individual rights. The recent politicisation of the covid vaccine and mask-wearing is a similar reaction.   

“When your response to climate change stops looking like centralised planning of the economy, I’ll stop calling it “radical. Until then, your approach to “saving the planet” looks green on the outside but red in the center, comrade.”

Confusion and uncertainty: For many, it is a full-time job trying to keep up with which products and brands are eco-friendly and which ones aren’t. Several posts questioned the actual greenness of electric cars.

“Can someone explain to me how electric cars are green if they are powered mainly from lithium batteries which to be extracted pollute the soil?”

“Does the oil we use to make tires for electric cars contribute to climate change?”

Solar energy and nuclear power were also areas of confusion.

“I heard that solar energy might help in aiding climate change. Is this true?” “Will nuclear power ever be a safe option?”

For others, their confusion is with the overlapping messages coming from brands that try to be all things to all people.

“I’ve just seen a lot of overlap between the eco/sustainability community and the über health-conscious/avoid any and all toxic materials in your body communities online, so it gets conflated sometimes.”

Some are desperately trying to make the right decision but feel like they are operating with limited and sometimes conflicting information.

“I have heard some people say driving the old car until it dies would have been the better thing to do since the car already exists. Could someone please clear this up for me once and for all?”

In the case of the documentary Seaspiracy mentioned by one of our clients, while the information presented was technically accurate and presented entertainingly, the aftermath of media criticism can leave people confused.

“I’ve read that recycling is a scam, and I’m not sure what can I do then.” For others, it is trouble connecting the dots between how their individual actions impact the climate. “I still struggle to understand how the flatulence of cows can change the weather.”

Inferior offerings: For many, they are just not convinced that eco-friendly products are good enough. They are okay with going green and are even willing to pay a few pennies more, but it must be on par with what they are using/doing now.

“Animal products and animal fats are pretty much the best nutritional form of both proteins and fats you can obtain in food.”

“Why the h*ll would I drive an electric car with a limited driving range?”

My efforts alone are not enough, so why bother:  A concerning barrier to individual participation is this idea that individual actions do not make a hill of beans.

“What you are suggesting is that you plug the pinhole leak in the boat that has a large gash in it, taking on crazy amounts of water.”

Or that my efforts will not make an impact as long as others are doing nothing – so why bother.

“Why must I be forced at gunpoint to degrade my quality of life when the polluters halfway across the world continue their activities regardless?”

So for some, clearly, it’s too much too soon. To enact the changes we need to combat climate change, it has to be brands who lead the way – with a little help from the individual consumer.

 

By Karen Winslow

 

To find out how you can use social listening for better business insights, get in touch with us at contact@listenandlearnresearch.com.

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