A number of comments, on the original and later posts, as well as other discoveries have pointed me to additional barriers to mass adoption of sustainability. They’re below, bringing the total to 21 (Greenjack?). While I’ve categorized these barriers as marketing issues, it seems human psychology plays a major role. The marketing of sustainability must, therefore, understand these issues in the target audiences’ minds.
Referring to “barriers” may be misleading. It’s not to say, the barriers are aplenty, it’s such an uphill battle we might as well pack up and go do something else. Each “barrier” in both posts represents a wall to be torn down – an opportunity.
Storytelling. Stories are how we communicate, stories are how we understand and act upon things. What’s the story of sustainability? People don’t relate to products or brands or concepts – people relate to people.
Language (via Bernice Paul). We’re using linear language to convey a systems concept. The clash is subtle yet significant. It’s like using old tools to solve new problems.
(Ir)relevance (via Carolina). The absence of stories and the use of unsuitable language makes for a weak connection to people’s lives. For some, sustainable practices just don’t seem to be that relevant to their everyday experiences.
Information overload (via Perrine Bouhana). Sustainability may also seem irrelevant because it appears daunting. So many things to do, so much to think about, so numerous the options and considerations and implications… Our brains are not wired for thinking, and when faced with too much information, they stick to what they know.
Personal politics. Sustainability originated in liberal (as in, American left wing) politics. If you hold more conservative views, wishing for things to stay the way they are and any problems to be solved within the current framework, you’ll reject sustainability’s call for radical change.
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Posted on September 7, 2009 by 3BL Media