Culture change?

Gut feeling is that culture is key to sustainability transition. It is about our health, economy, life-style, i.e. our general life quality. We need to ask questions about the way we live and challenge our habits, our culture, to help us to develop a sustainable society and the means to create it. Whatever the topic is it needs to be interrelated with many others.

If it is about food we need to talk about employment, better environmental production and sustainable consumption habits. For example, my ‘local’  supplier guarantees that clientele is still growing. That feels good, but I’m aware that this is not the way to feed the world.

If it is about transport we need to discuss status, international power relations, production again and transport needs. During a stormy week in which I was cycling about 200 kilometres to get somewhere and back (no, no training for the Dutch championship cycling against the wind) these issues demanded my contemplation. When arrived wet and leaving for another rainy, head wind trip to my next appointment, compliments are flying about a healthy life style saving as much fossil fuels as possible. Although better be envied than pitied, at these moments it’s not that difficult to understand why I do not meet that many likeminded on my way back home. For sure, we can organise things better, but will that really result in a sustainable system? Moreover, changing cultural embedded preferences and habits takes more than a century they say.

So, we urgently need to ask questions like what if we do these kind of things differently; what behaviours promote sustainability and which ones limit progress; what cultural habits act as barriers to sustainable development; how do we change? At first sight, the challenge seems how we engage society and acknowledge that we live in an unsustainable and unhealthy culture. But at these rainy stormy days I get convinced that awareness alone will not change culture into one in which you simply put on your rainwear and start pedalling. 

Bertien Broekhans

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