I always see images that portray nature with different shades of green. This is totally unfair to nature, which is multicoloured. This shallow portrait of sustainability has made the subject eco-boring - limited, distant and rather immature.
Everything communicates something: our haircut, the shoes we wear, what we study at university, the kind of transport we choose — everything means something and contributes to the image we project. A society’s culture depends on various forms of communication to survive, to sustain itself, to extend its roots through different generations. The consumer culture, for example, is a characteristic of our society and is the product of diverse forms of communication that have developed since the industrial revolution — and, while it has weakened human relations, it has managed to create extremely valuable brands.
In contrast to all this, we are coming under increasing pressure to be “more sustainable.” Well, if sustainability comes from the verb “sustain,” the fleeting nature of human relations, based on the logic of consumption as portrayed by the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, would not appear to be capable of coexisting with a concept like this. Sustainable consumption means you should use water without drying up the source; reduce, reuse and recycle your waste; and eat fish without causing its extinction. But it also means looking after your health, both in terms of diet and hygiene, being aware of what you buy and knowing which company you cast your consumer vote for. Does this company enslave people or extinguish species of flora or fauna? Does it deserve my vote? In other words, our consumption needs extend to the responsibility for disposal, be it in terms of quantity or the destination.
What is lacking is for companies to help consumers to understand that we are all part of a single system. I see that companies face a dilemma: Wait for consumers to become more conscious in order to offer them more sustainable products and services, or provide them with the necessary information now, through their products and services, thus raising their consciousness? I prefer the second option. I advocate that communication for a more sustainable society may be a fundamental educational factor in definitively transforming consumer needs, desires, behaviours and — why not? — the culture of a society.
Communicate to sustain. A nation’s history is sustained through communication and, therefore, communication is a key factor in sustaining life. I believe there has never been such a good moment for us to build a better future. I can see that today we no longer say “if” we are going to do something, but rather “how” we will do it. Products and services have the power to become essential tools in making our society healthier, better informed, more responsible, more inclusive, more aware. The difference will be in the marketing content of these products or services. More than this, the real difference will be in the choice consumers make every day to sustain their model of living and through this be aware of the power they have to promote change — in whatever direction that may be.