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  • Mon, 16, Dec, 2019 - 5:00:AM

Do we have to start marketing sustainability to men?

As a society, we are (slowly) becoming more and more sustainably aware. Most people I know bring a reusable cup along when they want a takeaway coffee. When I order a drink at a restaurant or bar and say “no straw, thanks” they usually respond by saying that they don’t have plastic straws in any case. My friends and family are eating meat and dairy products less and less as that awareness grows and grows.

But, when I stop to think about it, it does seem like – for the most part – it’s the women I know who would never buy bottled water or accept plastic bags, and it’s the men who wouldn’t think twice about it. When I go on holiday with my male friends, I’m constantly fishing their beer cans and Coke bottles out of the general rubbish bin and sorting them into the recycling. I know exactly one male vegetarian, and at least thirty female ones.

And it’s not just my immediate circle. According to studies, women have been shown to litter less, recycle more, and leave a lesser carbon footprint than their male counterparts. Women have also been found to be more likely to be educated on the causes and effects of climate change, and to thereby support environmental laws and legislations more than men. Men have been found to consume more meat and use a lot more fuel than women, and only 58% of single men in the U.K were found to recycle, compared to 69% of single women.

According to one study, environmentalism is so tied to gender that nations in which women are of a higher status and have a higher representation in government (closer to equal, but of course, not quite) the carbon emissions were lower than of those nations where women had less power.

The countless studies, statistics and articles on this topic seem to all say one thing: women care more about environmental issues than men.

But, why is that?

Is there something emasculating about a reusable shopping bag? Is that fundamental admission of giving a shit about something so inherently feminine that men can’t stand it? Even if the thing you’re giving a shit about is the survival of the human race? Are masculinity and empathy seen as mutually exclusive? Is it so embedded in our social subconscious that women are the caretakers, that men can’t seen to be taking care of literally anything?

What is it going to take to change this? Because we need it to change, like, yesterday. We can’t save the planet if only half of our population is on board with doing so.

Do we have to start selling reusable stainless steel straws “for men”? With lightning bolts and six packs etched onto them? Do we need black bamboo toothbrushes and organic deodorants that smell like Lynx Africa? Does Bunnings need to start selling compost bins in a package deal with every “man cave”?

Do we need women in bikinis to start appearing in advertisements for vegetarian sausages? Do the All Blacks need to publicly go vegan? Should all supermarket packaging on meat be pink?

Honestly, this isn’t even satire anymore. I’d happily disregard my staunch feminism and repulsion at gendered marketing to make all these things happen. If it’s what men need to feel okay about caring about this planet and the longevity of our life, let’s do it.

Who do I have to talk to to get Tui to make an ad about cutting down on meat and using public transport?

Let’s burn the planet to a crisp, mate. Yeah, right.


  • Environment /
  • Climate Change /
  • Masculinity /
  • Patriarchy /
  • Feminism /
  • Men /
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