Act without being activist

You have to stop eating meat. You have to stop going on vacation by plane. You have to stop driving gasoline cars. You have to stop….


We all know that we have a big problem. Maybe we, as sustainability students, are even working to solve the biggest problem in human history. Since two centuries of the, humans are intensively using the earth’s resources. We are emitting tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every day and due to a growing population and a growing demand for food, soils are degrading.


These are all problems we are facing as sustainability science students. We try to make an effort to solve these problems. This may seem easy. Simply stop behaving irrationally and act environmentally responsible. Unfortunately, and we all know this, this is not how it works in reality.


This real world is complex. Every individual may have another view on the issues we are facing. Although there is only one truth, people do not fully understand her or have reasons not to be willing to understand her. Once this step has been overcome, the second bumb arises. People understanding the truth, does not mean necessarily they will act on it.  


Most of us are seen as green activists. We are living in a green bubble. Being able to solve a lot of problems for ourselves, that green bubble works out fine. However, these problems occur only in our green bubble. We live in a world with different people, with different values. How many times did you try to convince someone not to eat meat, take the bike more often and put down the radiator? Did this work? With that occasional victory over the short-sighted and ignorant man, mankind will not be convinced.


I argue, that activism is the opposite of positive to solve this tremendous issue. When people hear extreme voices that forbid you to do things, people will not listen. Activism is not encouraging people to act positively in respect to the problem. It is counteracting active involvement of people with these obstacles. I think, that if we want to solve the biggest problem that we are facing, we have to stimulate discussion. We have to understand how other people think and release ourselves of that green activist bubble. Let people be active, without being activist.



M.A. Groenink & Jan van Poppel

Sustainable vacation

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