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Climate Friendly Cultural Practices

Cultural sustainability

Sustainability: a marketing hack

Long-term shifts in temperature and weather patterns is how the UN defines climate change. The promise to expedite sustainable reforms by businesses is more prevalent than ever. Every small action, from the use of paper straws and bags to planting a tree for every purchase, has become a favorable trend. They call it sustainability and plaster it in large font on the front page of their website. It’s attractive to us. But do we truly know how sustainable these brands are or is this simply a checkbox we look for to qualm our conscience?

Volkswagen were found to have fitted vehicles with a software that could detect when it was undergoing an emissions evaluation and altered performance to reduce emission level to cheat the test.

Coca Cola is on its second consecutive year at the top of the plastic polluter list . A lawsuit was filed against the company for falsely advertising its eco-friendly approach despite this.

Starbucks’ “straw less lid” action was a complete greenwash. The new “sustainable” lids contained more plastic than the old plastic straws and lids combined.

Ikea, congratulated highly for being a sustainable corporation before June 2020, was found to be connected with illegal logging in Ukraine.

Sustainability is suffocatingly smothered across so many household names. They broadcast it, boast about it, come up with snappy catchphrases and we give them an ovation of praise. How much do we, the consumer, know in reality? Are we just applauding their greenwashing contrivances?

Is a climate friendly lifestyle dependant on culture?

Yes, it has been welcoming to see the spread of knowledge and awareness regarding the topic but our western individualistic societies have been far behind cultures who’s everyday practices have been screaming sustainability for years. Only now are we jumping on the bandwagon.

Within South Indian communities and in parts of West Bengal, the use of leaves as plates is common. Large banana leaves or Sal and Banyan Leaves which are dried and stitched together with wooden sticks are used in homes and restaurants alike. The practice is also common in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Ecuador. In 2018 a group of tribals in Odisha were asked to supply one million plates to a German importer as they became high demand in luxury European restaurants. The “luxury” of sustainability in western societies is a traditional norm in the east. What they use everyday, we slap the trendy sticker of sustainability on, and raise the price tenfold.

Newspapers and brown paper bags have been also used to serve and package street foods in these cultures. Funfairs in these countries often sell peanuts in cones of paper and even today tourists can be found holding paper rolls stuffed with popcorn or sweets. As a pose to plastic containers, this is a much preferred alternative.

Bamboo utensils, clay cups and plates, jute sacks are more examples of how collectivist eastern society has basic yet vital climate friendly products ingrained deeply in their everyday.

Could cannibalism help the climate?

Would you go so far as to eat human meat to combat climate change?

Recent controversial literature explores how adopting a cannibalistic diet is the way to solve our problem. We’ve seen vegan and vegetarian diets taking wind as an attempt to fight the impacts of climate change. Some are in favor of scrapping these diets completely and turning to human meat instead.

A Swedish scientist’s angle on this topic is definitely a conversation starting one. The exploding population poses the concern of food scarcity. Biodiversity is impoverished because of our overexploitation. Beef farms for instance are some of the most UN-eco-friendly processes. In the name of advancement humans have developed systems of agriculture to meet consumption habits that are only spiralling upwards.

It is our demand for meat, the feed for these species, cereal, crops for biofuel and more that is exacerbating the issue. The scientist suggests that sourcing "meat" from corpses would directly translate to fewer trees cut.

Will this really be a viable way to move forward? The idea seems so far fetched because ethical or not, effective or not, the mental blocks surrounding ingesting human flesh mean that implementing this new way of eating will hardly be immediate. There is also the concern of the limited nutritional value of human meat. The cannibal tribe of Papa New Guinea are ridden with a prion disease known as Kuru because of their food choice being their dead relatives, bringing into question the safety of this switch.

Climate awareness vs action

In a nutshell, there is much to learn from people who live more naturally, consume more deliberately and are conscious in the way they treat earth. Their upbringing has perhaps been one that is more climate inclined so there is merit to suggesting that being sustainable has come naturally to them. This only means we must keep increasing our efforts to be sustainable as individuals, societies and consumers. We are continually becoming more aware but the action is where we lack.

Here is a link for ways you can simply but sustainability change to be a more environmentally responsible person; ways you can convert your awareness to action.


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