“You don’t want to be the arsehole who doesn’t bring their KeepCup to morning coffee time,” says Vanessa Morrish, co-creator of beanunfucker.com. It’s a website that could be just the push a lot of us need to act in a more environmentally conscious way. Not much more, just a little.
The site started in September last year. It suggests small changes every person can make (take shorter showers, don’t overfill the kettle, avoid plastic bags, eat less meat, know what’s in your moisturiser) to stop fucking up the planet. Then it backs each one up with statistics which show that, while easy and obvious, the majority of us are still far from making these changes (“429,000 recyclable plastic supermarket bags are dumped into landfill every hour”, “Throw a can of Coke in a non-recycling bin and the can will spend the next 200 years decomposing”).
“I don’t like the term, ‘do your bit’,” says Morrish. “It’s a buzzword politicians use. It shouldn’t really be about that. It should be about making small changes to the way you live. It shouldn’t feel like a burden.”
The site takes a straight-talking, truth-telling, fact-wielding approach to match its clean, sharp design.
“It’s one thing to tell people why they should give a shit and another to back it up with a fact. Because otherwise it’s just telling people what to do,” says Morrish.
Morrish (a copywriter) and Be An Unfucker’s other creator, Caroline Shields (an art director) met working at an advertising agency in Sydney. Shields was inspired by the work of photographer and filmmaker James Balog and the way he used his creative skills to make people more aware of humanity’s impact on the environment with his documentary, Chasing Ice. Her dissatisfaction with the it’s-all-too-hard attitude rubbed off on Morrish. They agreed you don’t need to be an activist or a paid-up member of the Greens to make a difference. They also agreed that things are pretty fucked, but not beyond being unfucked.
“Sometimes it takes a different way of doing things to make a splash or to wake people up a little bit,” says Morrish.
“We wanted to keep the site upfront, honest, approachable and tongue in cheek,” says Shields.
But is it possible that by encouraging people to change so little, it gives them a false sense of doing enough? Shouldn’t we expect more?
Shields and Morrish would rather people change one thing than carry on as most of us are.
“People think that others are taking care of the environmental issues, and that it’s beyond their power to do anything,” says Morrish.
The pair also believes this approach is less likely to burn people out by asking that they change themselves and the world in a day. “It’s one step at a time without being overwhelming,” says Shields. “I think once you get into the mind-set, it becomes about naturally seeking out ways of making changes. So it’s about evolving the way you think about going about your everyday life.”
It also taps into the idea that people are more likely to be influenced by their peer group than anything else.
“At the moment, being an environmentalist, or being eco-friendly is a thing,” says Morrish. “We want it to be just a natural part of people’s lives, rather than something you believe in, or something that you stand for.”
“I think it’s just quite an easy concept,” says Shield. “No one wants to be a Fucker.”