Is ‘Green Living’ a Luxury?

Are all greenies 'job-hating hippies' and coal miners 'filthy fat cats'?

Is ‘Green Living’ a Luxury?

Is 'green living' a luxury affordable only to the middle and upper classes?

Posted on 18.04.2018

Is environmentalism a luxury of the latte-sipping rich?

Are working-class people unconcerned with ‘big issues’ like climate change and sustainable energy?

If you read op-ed pages regularly, you’ll be familiar with those questions and the arguments that spring up around them.

‘Going green a luxury good for rich at expense of poor’‘Is green movement exclusionary by nature?’‘Going ‘green’ is more than shopping at Whole Foods and driving a Prius’, the headlines read.

When it comes to the environment, battlelines have been drawn between the rich and poor.

Take the Adani debate as an example — one side of the argument is often cast as ‘callous job haters’, the other as ‘reef destroying fat cats’.

There is some statistical evidence of an environmental class divide — studies suggest the people who are most interested in environmental issues are well-educated and left leaning.

It’s also built on assumptions, like the notion that people who are employed in industries built on traditional forms of energy generation and waste management would be against the decommissioning of those practices.

Conversely, you might assume everyone working renewable energy industry is a ‘greenie’.

But it’s not always the case.

We asked two experts — one from Greenpeace and one from policy think tank The Institute of Public Affairs — whether environmentalism is for rich people.

Each gave a very different answer — but both agreed something needs to change, in order for society as whole to tackle the imminent environmental threats facing our world.

Perception vs reality

David Ritter, the chief executive officer of Greenpeace Australia Pacific, says any perception that working-class Australians are removed from the organised environmental movement is just that: a perception.

“I don’t think there is a divide and I don’t really think there ever has been,” he says.

ABC News



Have a story to tell or news to share?

Let us know by Submitting a News Story

Discover Queensland

Explore all of Queensland’s adventures.

Start Exploring

What's On



National Tree Day Community Tree Planting

Plant trees to ensure wild koalas have a future. Embrace the outdoors and let the kids get dirty! Enjoy a free family picnic.
Read more



Pinnacle Sports Top Rope Course

If there is one question we’re always asked by non-climbers, it’s this – how do you get the ropes up there?!
Read more



Pinnacle Sports Vertical Rescue Course

Learn to be capable of implementing an effective rescue
Read more

Latest News

Running transformed this man

Running country road - from couch to marathon

Read more
$6.7m for Alexandra Headland cycle link

The next stage of the popular Mooloolaba to Maroochydore Cycleway

Read more
The last of the great adventurers

"Life isn’t a dress rehearsal for anything. It’s about the now" Jon Muir

Read more

Become a member

QORF welcomes applications for new Community and Green Circle Members from organisations and individuals involved in the outdoors

Learn More
Tail Lights by Georgina Pratten