The Eco Gender Gap: Why Men Live Less Sustainably
Have you heard about the Eco Gender Gap? As issues revolving around climate change, animal extinction, and the amount of waste caused by consumer goods have become more urgent, we all must do our part to keep the planet clean and reverse the damage that has been done.
But the efforts to reduce waste and CO2 emissions may be one-sided.
Recent studies have shown that men are less likely to recycle and more likely to litter, and this gap is only growing as more eco-friendly companies continue to only market to women. While it may be hard to believe that there is such a large gap when it comes to living sustainably, it looks like this gap does exist and it’s a major problem:
- 71% of women try to live more ethically, vs. 59% of men
- 87% of women have ethical and environmental concerns over food waste, whereas only 76% of men have the same concerns
- 73% of women try more often to reduce plastic waste, as opposed to 63% of men
- 77% of women are committed to regular recycling, compared to 67% of men
- And finally, 65% of women encourage friends and family to adopt a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, but only 59% of men do
So, it’s clear that the Eco Gender Gap exists, but why are men less likely to live sustainably?
The answer: toxic masculinity.
And to be clear, we LOVE our men and don't mean to bash them. Pinpointing the culprit is a bit more complicated. Let us explain: Most sustainable companies are marketing directly to women, as they are more likely to purchase and use eco-friendly products. Unfortunately, this has also negatively deterred men from becoming environmentally conscious.
Many men state that they fear being perceived as more feminine when they use reusable and sustainable products. Could it be because of the marketing strategies used by sustainable companies to target women?
This fear can also result from the stereotype that's been around forever - that being empathetic and nurturing is a feminine trait. This ridiculous stereotype can, unfortunately, influence men to avoid or even oppose efforts to reduce waste and CO2 emissions as they believe that caring for the environment would seriously impact their gender identity. We can see this in political leanings, too, as more women are on the left side of the political spectrum and more men are on the right side.
Another reason for this gap is that housework and upkeep are still perceived as women's jobs. From cooking to cleaning to childcare, the burden is more heavily put on women to eliminate waste in these areas. It could feel emasculating when men try to make sustainable changes in these household areas.
Finally, the lack of male planet activists can also deter men from speaking out about environmental concerns. From Greta Thunberg to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, women have been speaking out about waste and climate change, only to be met with opposition, primarily from males.
Seeing this type of planet activism can make men feel as if they will be judged and perceived as "less of a man" if they speak up.
What can we do to solve this?
First, we can stop gender stereotyping and reinforce the fact that the waste and climate crisis impacts us all - not just women. We must all encourage men to make sustainable swaps, purchase eco-friendly products, and speak out about climate change and plastic waste.
As a brand, it is our responsibility to also market our products as gender neutral, creating sustainable alternatives to skincare products for men, and by encouraging and supporting male planet activists.
The bottom line - The future of our planet is all of our responsibilities and we all must do our part in healing the planet.
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