Sex And Sustainability: <br> Is Climate Change Sexist?

Sex And Sustainability:
Is Climate Change Sexist?

Nowadays choosing to be a little more eco-minded when you do your shopping is pretty easy. Any conscious consumer will find a huge range of options when it comes to shopping for a greener home. Reusable sanitary pads and menstrual cups are now cool companions to your period, cosmetics come in glass jars or recyclable containers, and we all have a reusable coffee cup and deodorant, right?

You may be nodding as you read this and if you are, our guess is that you’re a woman. Apologies if your not. The reality is that many men probably haven’t noticed the huge shift in consumer habits towards “green” items. This is because - and we hate to admit this - women are still largely responsible for the domestic sphere. As the more powerful consumers, it can be argued that women are driving the cultural shift towards many of us becoming more conscious shoppers. Resulting in what market research firm, Mintel, has coined the “eco gender gap”.


What Is the Eco Gender Gap?

 We’ve all heard of the gender pay gap (sadly) but the eco gender gap, although describing a similar gender-based inequality, is fairly new. It’s a pretty simple concept: women are far more likely to be committed to a more ethical lifestyle than men. From travel to diets to shopping habits, most of the time women were found to have greater environmental awareness than men. While there is a trend of men being less “bothered” by climate change than women, there are several factors at play including gender stereotypes, personality traits, and of course marketing.


Why Does the Eco Gender Gap Exist?

In the past, people attributed the gender gap to personality differences. According to research carried about in the 90’s and 00’s, women have a greater tendency to be more empathetic and altruistic compared to men. But whether women are born caring about the planet or are conditioned to do so is still uncertain. One trend that research agrees on is that  “greeness” and femininity are linked in most people’s minds. This - and it might sound crazy - is what puts men off from doing their bit for the planet.

 A 2019 study shows that men were less likely to carry a reusable shopping bag, recycle or do anything remotely eco-friendly out of fear of undermining their own masculinity. Men are also more ready to accept that technology or science will come in and save the day, whereas women, who are generally less likely to trust institutions, are often more proactive in the fight against the climate crisis.

Although there is an obvious cognitive bias that society as a whole needs to work on to change, we can’t forget about the brands out there perpetuating these stereotypes. When it comes to eco-friendly products, “green” marketing might as well be pink. Clever marketing heads know that it’s mostly women who are doing the shopping and the impulse buying, and brands are using this to their advantage. 

Climate Change Is Genderless

It might not be easy but it’s obvious: to close the eco gender gap we need to close the associated gap. That’s who does the laundry, the shopping, the cleaning. We need to break down the stereotypes that we have all been conditioned to accept. This means working together on a societal level and often that means starting with a long hard look in the mirror.

But it’s not just up to us as consumers! Brands also need to do their bit to make sustainable living appealing to all genders. When we were designing Fussy we knew that we wanted to make it as easy as possible for every person -  male, female, non-binary - to smell good and do their bit for the planet as well. From our colours to our scents; it’s based on personal choice, not gender.

The Future of Sustainable Society

It might seem like an impossible mountain to climb but the world is changing. Just one look at today’s youth movements and you feel a glimmer of hope for our future. Millennials and Gen Z are more aligned with environmental issues than any generation before, and that includes a lot of young men as well as women.

Former Irish president and U.N. rights commissioner, Mary Robinson, famously claimed that “climate change is a man-made problem and must-have a feminist solution.” Now, we’re not going to lay the blame on all men but rather on society as a whole. The environmental challenges that we’re facing today, including the gender eco gap, is a people problem and only people coming together and choosing to be everyday heroes can begin to solve it.

So what are you waiting for? Feel like a hero today.

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