Today marks 20 years to the day since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published. It is hard to argue that any other series has had the phenomenal (in the truest sense of the word), global impact that J. K. Rowling’s wondrous world has had. Appealing to the young and old, rich or poor, and after being translated into 68 languages, crossing nearly all cultural, ethnic and language barriers imaginable.
How does this relate to sustainability you might be wondering? This is the beginning of a blog about mainstreaming sustainability into the everyday, not the merits of the wizarding world? However, I imagine it would be the dream of many environmentalists and sustainability professionals to have the impact on society that J. K. Rowling has had. It certainly is my dream. Imagine, for a moment, that an entire generation across the globe were queuing for days to buy a book on sustainable consumption, climate change or the circular economy. Imagine the impact and driving force that would have on shifting the human race towards a society and economy more in line with natural limits.
So there are many lessons which can be learnt from Harry Potter’s global appeal. It transcends the boundaries that are often drawn for us and that which are often peddled as limitations for an interest in environmental issues or an ability to make change. It could be that the desire for escapism is something we all share, it could be the relatable characters, or it could be the pure imagination which permeates every element of the story. However, there are thousands of books and tales which tick those boxes just as fully. Harry Potter has something else. There is a unique, or many unique, qualities which cause it to resonate with society as a whole, and I believe it is crucial to unpick them and translate those lessons to sustainability, climate change and environmental issues at all scales.
Sustainability is something that needs to have that same global appeal as Harry Potter. It is essential. People across the globe need to be as passionate about improving the environment and limiting their impact on it, as they are about a fictional world. Only when there is a generation of engaged people will there be a driving force for large scale, fundamental change.