Do you ever feel like a drop in the ocean when it comes to efforts at achieving sustainability?

In today’s neoliberal free market context, the onus is frequently placed on individual consumers to drive the transition towards sustainability. However, while individual behaviour change is, without doubt, a crucial part of the process of transitioning, the emphasis on the individual consumer neglects a discussion of how wider social, cultural and political contexts are locking individuals into unsustainable patterns of consumption.

This month, with Transition Galway and the Galway Feminist Collective, I am hosting a public talk on this topic with Green Drinks Galway. With myself and members of Galway’s Feminist as guest speakers we will discuss the importance of uncovering and challenging the social, structural and institutional contexts that lock citizens and consumers into unsustainable ways of living.

I will set the scene in speaking about my historical research on the factors shaping changing domestic consumption practices in Ireland. Drawing on oral history interviews with older aged Irish people, I’ll discuss how the experience and practice of daily living have changed. My analysis identifies a range of societal, infrastructural and institutional factors that have shaped individuals’ everyday consumption towards increasing resource intensity over time.

Turning light on current day contexts, Ireland is currently facing a continued expansion of our fossil fuel infrastructure. Discussing current activist efforts to challenge unsustainable contexts and practice, members of the Galway Feminist Collective will introduce and discuss direct action for environmental justice and introduce the “Not Here, Not Anywhere” campaign. “Not Here, Not Anywhere” is a national campaign group that is calling for a ban on all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects in Ireland, specifically offshore drilling for oil and gas and the building of terminals for the regasification of Liquefied Natural Gas. In addition, members of Galway Feminist Collective will speak of their participation in a recent mass action against fossil fuel extraction in November which took place on the eve of the Climate Talks (COP 23) on the outskirts of Bonn where the talks were being held. 4,500 activists travelled from all over Europe to join the action which shut down the lignite coal mine operated by the company RWE.

Presentations will be followed by a group discussion. The event ‘Trashing the Planet – Who is responsible?’ will take place at 7 pm on February 12th in The Secret Garden cafe.

The Facebook event for the event can be found here.

Green Drinks Galway is a free public talk about environmental issues where a guest speaker gives a short talk and then takes questions from the audience. Green Drinks Galway is organised by local environmental group Transition Galway. A wide range of teas, coffee and other drinks are available at the venue. Green Drinks are organised in over 670 cities around the world and it allows people with an interest in green issues get together to chat, share ideas and raise a cup/glass to a brighter future.