Green Fatigue: Why you should stop telling your customers that the climate crisis is coming

July 7, 2021

Humans are capable of great imagination but, when faced with uncomfortable truths, we still defer to facts for reassurance and alibi. The climate crisis has been told to us, handed down as if a myth from the future that has not yet come to pass. The truth is, the climate crisis is here, and we’re living it now.

Forests are responding to increasing temperatures by moving to higher altitudes. Arctic ice is thinning twice as rapidly as previously predicted, and more than 1 million species are at threat of extinction. Climate change made Australia’s 2019-2020 bushfires at least 30% more likely. A heatwave in Canada and the western US has caused hundreds of deaths, and flesh-eating parasites are moving north as temperate climates become warmer. This is the climate crisis.

Our awareness of the damage inflicted on our planet is at an all-time high. Rather than taunting consumers with the monster we fear is coming, let’s commit to transparency about what is happening now and sharing the stories about how your business decisions positively impact life right now.

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Change the narrative about the climate crisis

In a world that keeps telling companies they’re the ones that need to change, perhaps accepting individual responsibility for changing the narrative around climate change is just as important. Especially if that environmentalism is intersectional. We’re at the point where every decision we make can change the planet and its people’s lives for the better. Climate crisis is an immediate threat. It’s time to communicate that your actions – and the purchasing power of your customers – can change things for people in the here and now. We’re not in the future, so instead, the threat of a changing climate remains an abstract concept.

Show them the problem, share your solution, and give power back to the individuals who, as it’s becoming more apparent, are making a difference. 

Get their attention with stories

Stories are one of the most influential and accessible tools for learning (and for rebellion as it happens). For 60 years, Sir David Attenborough has brought the natural world into living rooms around the world. Then in 2017, Our Blue Planet, the final episode of Blue Planet II, flipped the narrative, warning us that, “The future of humanity, and indeed all life on Earth, now depends on us.” Against a backdrop of images of the oceans drowning in plastic and sea species injured or ingesting humanity’s plastic waste, the threat became real. It made us vigilant, and the world reacted – because we could see the short-term benefit as much as the long-term.

Make real progress against climate change

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Individuals and organisations are reluctant to change, especially when, as in the climate crisis narrative, it feels like that change equals sacrifice. That’s why the stories that show redemption and advantage as an in-the-moment solution get results. Of course, these actions need to be transparent and genuine. With the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) currently investigating greenwashing, we’re hopeful that we’re moving towards legislation that demands every claim of positive environmental impact is true and provable.

So, if you can already prove them, you should back your ethical claims up with the right content and start the right conversations.

Because the stories we are living right now are the ones that will ignite and inspire change.

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