The modern world places unique demands on human beings. Every day, our brains take in an estimated 34 gigabytes of information, but simply cannot cope with that barrage.
And when it comes to reading, seeing and hearing the same stuff over and over again, it’s hard to keep paying attention. Take climate change, for example.
Even if you are, it’s likely that the message is becoming blunter. Warnings don’t shock like they once did. Even the most promising technological advance is met with been-there-done-that scepticism.
It’s called issue fatigue, and it could be dangerous for the sustainability movement. If your company has committed to a more sustainable future, it’s vital that you confront — and avoid — issue fatigue. Here’s how.
Brands that embrace sustainability do so in various ways. Yours might be committed to reducing your plastic consumption, or supporting a social enterprise abroad. Whatever your cause, getting hands-on can rejuvenate your motivation. Sustainability is all about long-term change, so we need you to keep your energy up.
Taking physical action — from a beach clean to a fundraiser — will recharge your batteries for the fight to come. When you can see the positive consequences of your actions, it’s easier to stay connected with the issue.
Interacting with the people, animals and landscapes you’re helping will bring your efforts to life. We’d recommend getting out on the front line of sustainability at least three or four times a year.
Too often in climate change reporting, we obsess over the negatives. There’s a good reason for that — because things are pretty bad — but it’s not helpful to the average person’s mental wellbeing.
Now and again, take stock of how much plastic you’ve saved from landfill through your recycling programme. Or how a far-off village has benefitted from your charity efforts.
Make positive sustainability reporting a priority for your company. It gives employees a boost and takes away the ‘do less bad’ attitude that so many organisations fall foul of.
Whether it’s a physical display in your office or a weekly email, take time to shout about the positives you’ve brought to the world.
If it all gets too much, give yourself some time off. Sustainability — whether in business or the environment — is all about the long game. A few days of downtime will be worth it in the long run.
Taking time off from an issue is a little trickier than, say, taking a day off work. Your mind doesn’t just switch off on demand, so fill your days with other distractions.
Use the time to get out into the countryside, read a new book or get some exercise. Try to be mindful of each moment and resist thinking about the bigger picture for a while.
Investing in your own physical and mental health will be beneficial for the planet. Trust us.
Speaking of getting hands-on, a great way of avoiding issue fatigue is to start small. Climate change is such a huge problem that the solutions are equally complex. So what can you do?
Start by living the changes you want to see. Reduce your carbon emissions and plastic usage. Walk or cycle short trips instead of taking the car. Skype your overseas clients instead of taking long-haul flights.
Focus on what you can change, both personally and within your company. Wherever possible, make the sustainable choice. It’s the perfect way to encourage others in your circle of influence to do the same. Before you know it, your positive changes could become the new norm in your friendship group. That’s how to start a movement.
Rhys is Conscious Creatives' resident writer and photographer. His work has been published in various online publications, and he was recently chosen to update a bestselling book on SEO. He continues to seek new and interesting angles for his photography work, shooting his local streets on 35mm film.
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