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Narratives: Environmental Marketing. Anxiety or Empowerment?

At the Rewilding Conference at the start of the year we heard from Paul Jepson.

When I started Making Roots I decided that I wanted to do something a little bit different than what I was seeing elsewhere. I wanted to thrive on positivity, inclusivity and the fact that we can all make a difference. This was opposite to a lot of the environmental movements around me, who portrayed this environmental degradation that even for me was a bit scary and I didn't know where to even start. It was daunting and called to action some radical action.

And I didn't even realise that my thoughts on this, fell into a type of marketing (something I actively try to avoid!!) and they were hit on the head by Paul Jepson.

I thought you might be interested in these different tactics, and how you can potentially choose the narrative you follow and the narrative you write yourself. Paul Jepson outlined two narratives. Anxiety marketing and Empowerment marketing.

Anxiety marketing:

The world is totally f*cked and without change we’re f*cked too. Highlighting the worse cases.

Inciting negative, and anxious feelings that lead to rapid change.

Empowerment marketing:

A positive narrative that promotes empowering everybody that we can make a positive change. We CAN do something better, big or small. For me personally, it’s also important to talk about wider issues within this narrative. Empowering everybody that they don’t need to consume so much, that they are whole, wonderful people as they are.

I think both of these marketing tactics have a place- and we should give both a platform. I follow some INCREDIBLE voices online that use anxiety marketing to portray extremely important messages. However, for me, I am much more passionate about empowerment marketing (which to me is kind of an oxymoron). Promoting less consumption. You don’t need it. And that small act can go a really long way.

I want everybody to also feel included, worthy and responsible for their role. Our lifestyles in developed regions have enormous impacts globally, and no matter our wealth, gender, religion or anything in between, we are all responsible and we can generate positive change, no matter how small.

I think this is particularly relevant after the climate elections in Australia and the result spells bad news for the whole planet. Seed and Sprout put up a powerful story, that no matter how quiet our actions, away from the media, away from politics, do have an impact. Everything has an impact, but WE can decide what kind of impact. Stay solid, stay calm and keep perseverance in what is right. The old saying goes if you can't beat them join them. But we don't have anybody to "beat". We have a whole system to change. And I think we do that by getting BETTER.

But next time you feel panicked, sad or overwhelmed by the state of the world. Relax. Anxiety marketing is designed to generate a knee jerk and extreme reaction. Whilst this might work for some, others, including me will settle for the empowerment marketing in which a huge wave of small changes will generate something BIG.