The latest status symbol is showing off your eco-friendly lifestyle
San Francisco Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers via Getty Images
- Going green should be a status symbol, according to a new report on climate change.
- From rented fashion to the Hydro Flask,
eco-friendlychoices have already been on the rise.
AdvertisementThe United Nations wants you to make an eco-friendly lifestyle a status symbol.
That means working from home more, driving less, and adopting a vegetarian diet, according to a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It found that these lifestyle changes could help reduce emissions by up to 70% by 2050. Such eco-friendly credentials have been redefining how people flaunt their status.
To implement these changes, the report encourages shifting conversation away from the opposite of these behaviors to break the status quo. For example, instead of emphasizing driving a car as a status symbol, we should be emphasizing the merits of public transport.
As Lucy Siegle points out for The Times, "green
Sustainable fashion influencing has evolved from touting sustainable clothing brands to completely rejecting the free clothes PR companies give out because they still encourage consumption. Luxury apartment increasingly offer eco-friendly amenities, and the rise of the Hydro Flask-as-accessory has also been a way to flaunt your responsible water drinking habits.
The shift to eco-consciousness mirrors the evolution of status symbols, in which showing off wealth is no longer the way to signify having wealth. The top 1% have been spending less on material goods since 2007, according to Elizabeth Currid-Halkett in her book "The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of an Aspirational Class." Instead, she wrote, they're turning to "inconspicuous consumption," investing in intangible things such as that "signal their cultural capital" to each other.
"This new elite cements its status through prizing knowledge and building cultural capital, not to mention the spending habits that go with it," Currid-Halkett wrote, adding, "Eschewing an overt materialism, the rich are investing significantly more in education, retirement, and health."
Investing in the future of the world is yet another immaterial means that implies to your fellow elites that you're smart enough to recognize the impact of
Considering that some eco shifts still involve material goods like buying a Tesla or makeup in recycled packaging, going green isn't always an inconspicuous choice. But Siegle writes, "this is not traditional conspicuous consumption — a display of wealth — but more about conscious consumption."
The hope is that the more people who make an eco-friendly lifestyle a conscious status symbol, the more people will want to have the same cachet and the world will benefit from the collective change. The catch is that since status symbols are typically reserved for the elite or aspiring elite, some eco choices need to become more accessible to cohorts without means.
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