[photo thieved with permission from my lovely friend Chris Oakey]
Last week, we went to a debate as part of the Sydney Festival which was on the topic, Can consumption become sustainable? The discussion was part of a sustainability debate series that’s being run by Unilever (odd, no?) all around the globe and it was really, really interesting. The debate was chaired by the super-great Adam Spencer (a maths genius with personality) and the panel included
Dr Val Curtis, Director, Hygiene Centre, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Jon Dee, Founder and Managing Director, Do Something!, co-founder of Planet Ark and 2010 NSW Australian of the Year
Ingrid Just, Spokesperson/Head of Media, CHOICE
Gavin Neath, Senior Vice President, Global Communications and Sustainability, Unilever
The discussion shifted around a fair bit, touching on issues like the fact that ‘green products’ are still a market niche and on the first world/developing world disparity when considering issues of environmental responsibility and consumption.
The idea of green, sustainable products still forming a ‘niche’ market and the implications of this was one of the aspects of the evening that I found most interesting. Jon Dee (who I have oodles of respect for) was arguing that there shouldn’t be a market for eco-products – that green items need to form the whole market. There needs to be an entire paradigm shift in terms of production and consumption.
I absolutely agree. For many people, green still = hippy and certainly in terms of cleaning products, less effective. It’s often also perceived as being an expensive option. If that stigma can be removed by making ‘green’ the norm, then that would be a huge leap forward, in terms of both consumer psyche and the environment.
Do Something! recently managed to put in place a voluntary ban on phosphates by working with detergent producers. Maybe this is the next step to work on.
What do you think? Do you think that this is a reasonable aim or do you think that it’s completely unachievable?