MMind Over Matter
How one person’s actions can make a difference

We, as a consumer, need to shift our mindset on the type of matter we buy and where we buy it from.

In 2017 the world leaders adopted the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) with the hopes of achieving a better future for all.

The goals aim to address the top global challenges we face today, areas such as poverty and climate change. Achieving these goals requires overcoming difficult problems. One of which is that the consequences of our actions progress over a very long time, often taking generations to unfold.

This leads to questions like; Well, what can I really do to make a difference, should I even bother?

Goals like these can seem overwhelming, daunting and even unattainable on our own, how could our individual actions possibly have any effect at all?

Well, we’ve seen recently how one person’s voice can have the potential to lead a whole movement. Take Greta Thunberg for example, her climate activism has inspired millions of other young minds around the world to start putting pressure on their governments to take responsibility and be held accountable for climate change. Though pointing the finger at governments to take action is essential in our journey to sustainable development, we also need to be held accountable by turning the finger on ourselves.

An unstainable economy is a massive driving force behind many of the issues we see today from inequality and pollution to climate change. The current capitalist market is a greedy place focusing on profit over well-being, sadly though it is also a reflection of our own selfish consumer behaviour. We are making decisions to maximise our own well-being, and the market simply follows along.

However, markets are also vital engines for sustainability, but we need to take the wheel and steer it in the direction of more sustainable products and practices.

By thinking about what we spend our money on and where these ‘demand shocks‘ ripple through economies and can have a much more significant impact than you might think. For the market to continue to make a profit, it will need to adapt to the new demands we put on it. We can’t wait for the markets to change first toward a more sustainable future, it must start with us.

If we make this mindset shift, rewarding companies who put well-being over profit and boycotting those who don’t, not only will it benefit us sustainably but the businesses who follow suit could also be rewarded with more customers and customers who are actually willing to pay more.

A study by Unilever revealed a third of consumers are now buying from brands based on their social and environmental impact. An additional survey by The Global Sustainability Report revealed that 66% of consumers are also willing to pay more for sustainable products which could create a €966 billion opportunity for more sustainably driven companies.

But how can changing your mindset, one person’s daily decisions and choices, be large enough to influence the whole market?

You’re just one person within seven billion, does it really doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do?

To quote Jordan Peterson

“You’ll know 1,000 people at least over the course of your life, and they’ll know 1,000 people each, and that puts you, one person, away from a million and two persons away from a billion. That’s how you’re connected and the things you do, they’re like dropping a stone in a pond, the ripples move outward, and they affect things in ways that you can’t fully comprehend and it means that the things that you do and that you don’t do are far more important than you think.”

So you are at the centre of a network which has never been more accurate than in today’s society with access to social media. One person’s change can make a massive difference, so be mindful of what matter you buy and where you buy it from.

Buy less and buy smart to encourage market change for a more sustainable future.

Thanks for reading and if you have a question let me know in a comment below

References

CONSUMER-GOODS’ BRANDS THAT DEMONSTRATE COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABILITY OUTPERFORM THOSE THAT DON’T

Oxfam (January 2017). An Economy for the 99%. Oxfam Briefing Paper

Sachs, Jeffrey (2015). Introduction to Sustainable Development. In The Age of Sustainable Development. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

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