I am writing this on a (semi-intentional) break from work after I left my last job. It was ‘intentional’ in that I knew I needed a bit of a break, I’d saved for nearly a year to ensure I wouldn’t be destitute, and find a job/path that I was passionate about. Essentially, fully commit to the quarter life crisis I was clearly having. I say a ‘semi-intentional’ break because I hadn’t quite anticipated the fact that the job I want doesn’t appear to exist. Therefore I’m writing this as a way to A) help other people in my position who are trying to carve a path in the weird and wonderful world of sustainability, and B) clarify my thoughts by requiring myself to be coherent enough to create a readable blog post.
As someone with a Master’s degree in Sustainability, an utterly unyielding passion for everything environmental (climate change, circular economy and animal rights are my jam), and a heartfelt belief that society has to move in a more positive direction, I find it fundamentally frustrating that myself and others in the same position find it difficult to contribute and find fulfilling careers.
I imagine the dilemma I currently face is not at all unique to Sustainability, but I think elements of it are specific to an industry which still often has to justify its existence. It is essentially a ‘dues paying’ issue – I understand that ‘paying your dues’ is nearly always necessary when starting out in any career, but I’m not sure I see an end point where the dues are paid. The imagninary end point – where I am in a role which helps society+the environment+the economy, and working on innovative solutions that create fundamental improvements, seems to be unattainable and importantly; unavailable.
As someone who is starting out in an industry which is still new, the jobs that are available might touch on sustainability, but essentially aren’t progressive or imaginative in their roles. In short, I am searching for ‘pure sustainability’ but I am faced with a (limited) choice of integrating sustainability through means which only just scratch the surface. The Sustainability market remains piecemeal, and often tokenistic.
I believe that Sustainability professionals have the ability to revolutionise society and the economy, but the creativity within the sector is not mainstreamed (and crucially; appreciated) even within the niche that Sustainability professionals currently occupy.
So, how do we go about injecting creativity into the profession? How can truly innovative solutions be applied to sustainability issues large and small? I wish I knew the answers but I imagine a good healthy dose of collaboration and simple bravery are good a good place to start.
(If you are reading this and are working on creative sustainability – comment or let me know!)