is sustainability a privilege?


I have spit out a lot of rhetoric and information, on this blog, about sustainability and the progression of climate change. However, something I don’t always mention is the economic considerations of being sustainable. Not everyone can afford package free toothpaste or 100% recycled material clothing. And while there may be a lot of companies that are trying to make sustainability more affordable, not everyone has access to them. Additionally, we live in a society and have a government that turns a blind eye to companies that overlook their effect on climate change, because it’s economically profitable for them. If we want to promote climate change action effectively, then we need to make sure that it’s an option for everyone, and holds everyone accountable.

what does “privilege mean”? In this post, privilege is going to mean an advantage or luxury that is not given to other groups, creating unequal opportunities and accessibilities. Often, and specifically in the context of this post, that privilege is overlooked and people are unaware of the existence of it.

the inequality. If you think about it, people in poorer communities are creating the least environmental impact, yet they are being affected by climate change the most. When we think about that, it should motivate and instill willpower in us to change our ways so others (and the planet) don’t suffer because of it.

what is “just sustainability”?  Just sustainability recognizes the economic inequality of the advocated sustainability and argues that “if sustainability only includes or is only for the benefit of privileged people, then logically we don’t have any hope of actually achieving it.” (Resilience)

how do big companies play into this? This is a point that is specific to America but can apply to other capitalist countries. Big corporations can afford to take a sustainable, environmental route. However, it’s economically better for them to pursue cheaper paths, even if it means killing the environment. As of now, with a lack of government policies, nothing is incentivizing them to pursue cleaner practices. Similarly, nothing is deterring them from increasing their profit by doing things like using cheap plastics instead of safer materials.

how can WE make sustainability affordable? This is kind of the general rule for the privilege. Recognize that you have the privilege and then use it for good! Like I mentioned, the common economic absurdity of eco-friendly products comes from the lack of demand and the price that it takes to make the actual products. However, if more people, that can afford it, bought more eco-friendly products and similarly used less of popular, harmful products then it would help to make sustainable items affordable in the longterm.

how can the GOVERNMENT make sustainability affordable? I alluded to this before, but the government could have a lot of control in limiting the carbon footprint of major companies and consumer practices. For example, creating tax incentives for companies who take the effort to integrate environmental safe practices appeals to the corporate greed that America is famous for. Conversely, maybe what’s needed is “tough love” deterrents that make it economically harmful for brands to kill the environment.

I only briefly talked about this topic, but I urge you to read some of the resources below and just keep the main question in mind when you are talking about climate change and sustainability.



Carbon Credit Capital,a%20higher%20degree%20of%20difficulty.&text=In%20terms%20of%20agricultural%20products,friendly%20procedures%20are%20more%20expensive.


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11 thoughts on “is sustainability a privilege?

  1. Jane says:

    In the UK big companies at present ‘play’ with sustainability, just ticking a few boxes and making it look as if they’re doing their bit. If the government got involved and started taxing them on packaging (for example) they would start really moving.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rohini Kudva says:

      I’ve also noticed a lot of greenwashing of big corporations, the US and UK were they try to appear sustainable online but don’t follow through with actual implementations. I always like hearing about other’s perspectives, especially in different countries. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. guiltygranola says:

    Great post. Sustainability and government comes back to the concept of ‘tragedy of the commons.’ We (America) has a side that is so against Big Government, but not Big Corporations, somehow. We fight government control, even when it’s against our own interests. “Give them an inch, they’ll take a mile’ kind of thought. but I think it’s essential. And world leaders apparently do too (cue Climate Accord). But consumers are key! You’re right- use our privilege for good. Thanks for a thought provoking post.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jake says:

    I like the concept that Bill Gates talks about, the “green premium”. The idea that at the beginning, sustainable products will be more expensive but if people with enough financial resources decide to pay that premium, the price will come down to levels that everyone can afford. I think this is one of the things that will be needed to make sustainability available for all rather than it being a privilege.

    Liked by 1 person

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