Making sustainable lifestyles happen
The Task Force has learnt a number of useful lessons on how best to spread the ideas, messages and best practice associated with sustainable lifestyles.
Who do we need to be engaging?
Government and local authorities
Engage with local government and authorities with the aim of implementing sustainable procurement, developing assessment tools on sustainable living programs and infrastructure development. Change will only be possible if people and institutions are given the means to change, an enabling framework that supports and encourages a transition.
The business sector has the skills, the resources and the energy to create meaningful change. Business activities directly affect quality of life, offer a source of income and influences social equality. We can engage the business sector and marketers either directly or through encouraging sustainable entrepreneurship strategies at the university level. Commissioning market research that investigates the desire for sustainable products and services will provide the evidence that business needs to change. All this should be done with the product lifecycle and consumer needs in mind.
Education, training and empowerment are essential to provide young adults with concrete and workable solutions, so they can participate in the design of sustainable societies. Educational programs designed to help educators, introduce sustainability principles and concepts into classrooms and lecture theatres at a time when young people are open to the new experiences that sustainable lifestyles have to offer.
What do we need to be doing?
A number of the projects showed that there is a need for further research to be undertaken into people's attitudes and aspirations. The Global Survey for Sustainable Lifestyles, a Task Force project, investigated young people's attitudes in twenty countries; this should only be the start. More detailed research is needed to identify sustainability innovations, provide examples of good sustainability communications and expose people's attitudes towards sustainable living. It is only through further research and consultation that we will be able to grasp the complexity of sustainable lifestyles, as well as what influences, constrains and motivates our behaviour.
In the past, rather than turn people on to the vast opportunities and enjoyment sustainable lifestyles can bring, communications around sustainable lifestyles have been prescriptive, patronising or disapproving and they have turned people off. A new approach to communications is to use positive messages and creativity to engage people in discussions around sustainability. If we are asking people to move towards a sustainable future, we need to show them what this future looks like. The vision you provide them with needs to paint a compelling picture that they can aspire to and are willing to work towards. Visions are powerful, use them.
Lifestyles are everything we do, from the moment we wake up to the time we go to sleep. Sustainable lifestyles need to be driven through everyday enabling actions. More sustainable ways of living need to be generated and diffused across our everyday lives. This might include the development of specific tools, such as a sustainable shopping guide, or working with groups within a population to sensitize them to the issue of sustainable consumption.
Building constructive and equitable partnerships between innovative
groups of people in different places and countries is key to achieving
change. Coming together in partnership empowers people, gives
people a sense of belonging and that they are doing something
for the common good. The Task Force projects found that it was
possible to use traditional trusted social organisations as the
building blocks for new forms of social networks dealing with
new and exciting issues.
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Banner image: Gennadiy Ratushenko