As life in the UK starts trickling back to pre-lockdown normality, will we all forget about the climate crisis, the importance of our healthcare system, and the move towards a more sustainable world? Will we forget facts like ‘we are currently using up enough resource for 1.6 earths ’ and will we return to being consumers, the label that has defined us all since the 1920s ?
Over the 20th century our economy and financial systems have demanded never ending growth at any cost. In 1973 the economist Kenneth Boulding said: “Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in an infinite world is either a madman or an economist.”
Up until now consumerism has fuelled this exponential growth, we are now at the point where there is a recognition that this model cannot go on forever.
Every year the Earth Overshoot Day organisation calculate the date that our demand as humans for the earth’s resources in a given year exceed the earth’s ability to regenerate those resources in that year. In 2021 that day will be the 29th July, in 2020 that date was 22nd August almost 1 month later. As more people lift themselves into the consumer class, 5.6BN consumers by 2030, Earth Overshoot Day is set to come earlier every year.
The term consumer is both a label that describes a behaviour and an expected behaviour imposed on a group of people. Do people behave like consumers because they are labelled so? Could we find a more beneficial label that evokes an altogether different aspirational behaviour? As the threat of climate change becomes a reality the 21st century will require a different approach to capitalism for the people who participate in the system.
If a consumer consumes, what is the label we give to those in society who participate in capitalism with the aspiration of driving a positive impact on people and planet?
We see a world where consumers evolve into a group of people with a much greater sense of responsibility. How we define ourselves is how we behave and it is citizens who participate with a sense of responsibility. We need to think about an altogether different consumer class, one where we all take on our duty as citizens and nurture future generations with sense of responsibility and a desire to actively participate.
At Citizen Good we help build brands in preparation for that future.
Brands that don’t entice consumers but instead encourage participation and engage Citizens.
We call them Citizen Brands and it is these Citizen Brands that are building a path to a more sustainable world.