Hey Marketers, Stop Treating Sustainability Like it’s a Personality Type

Trash Talking
3 min readMar 2, 2022

The concept only works if it involves EVERYONE.

Image by Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

Sustainability is not a lifestyle or niche that belongs to a segment of the population.

The irony is not lost on me that I sometimes refer to myself as a sustainability writer. Lately it makes me cringe, but it’s the simplest way to summarize the stories I write about.

And just because I advocate for sustainability doesn’t mean that I live the most sustainable lifestyle. Quite the contrary in fact: I still eat meat, purchase plastic packaged items, and drive a gas-powered vehicle (much to my chagrin).

For someone who cares about the environment and considers herself relatively privileged, I try to do my part to research and buy products that are considered “eco-friendly”.

But some of this stuff is hard. It takes effort. Plus, you don’t know who is telling you a bunch of greenwashing BS.

I still try to make an effort to purchase so-called sustainable products, but I’ve also become frustrated with the process. Especially since there are inescapable glaring issues I can’t ignore:

  • Sustainability cannot be achieved through individual action alone, but that’s the promise that businesses are trying to sell you.
  • Sustainability now represents a corner of the market that only applies to a specific type of buyer with a specific type of lifestyle and income.
  • Sustainability has become synonymous with beige colors and bamboo toothbrushes. It’s a status symbol that screams, “I care, and I can afford to.”

Businesses are searching for people who feel guilty and want to buy their way out of those uncomfortable feelings. They provide a respite in which the buyer can stop caring momentarily. In fact, the buyer should be applauded for their selfless purchase.

But here’s what all this nonsense is really about: We are trying to use capitalism to fight against the problems capitalism created.

Solutions will not be generated by individual actions alone. And no matter how plastic-free and chemical-free you try to become, there are some things that money can’t buy.

Trash Talking

Questioning the status quo of the waste industry.