Guys of SFC: Reuben

Part one of a three-post blog series introducing the male members of the SFC general executive for 2020, featuring Reuben.

Sustainable Future Collective


This is part of a three-post series of blogs introducing the male members of the SFC general executive for 2020. We want you to know who we are, why sustainability is important to us and why we got involved in SFC. We also want to start a dialogue about male culture and why it might be a barrier to involvement in sustainability.

Hi, I'm Reuben and I’m a fourth-year Mechatronics Engineering student here at Auckland Uni. Sustainability to me is something that just makes sense. I first learnt about the mechanisms of climate change in high school, and instantly I knew it was something I could not ignore. Since then I have felt a moral obligation to start changing the way I lived so that I could leave the planet in a state that can be enjoyed by all generations to come. In today’s society, we have grown so distant from nature. For me, sustainability is as much about helping the natural world to survive as it is to reconnect ourselves with nature and the life-forces that provide for us. Being aware of your world is a perfect exercise of mindfulness, the best tool to ground ourselves and manage stress in our busy lives!

Two of my favourite things: surfing and film photography

After meeting a number of SFC members and attending their events, I was drawn to getting more involved and joining the club. Being surrounded by so many like-minded individuals is amazing. Not only can I make more sustainable choices in my own life, now I can help others to do the same. Sustainability is an area which has always been less popular for males to get into. I feel proud to be a male who is passionate about sustainability, I hope that I can be a leader and encourage more males to get on board.

I believe that the biggest barrier for anyone getting into sustainability is the prevalence of extreme activists - people who take sustainability and more commonly veganism to an extreme. Two main reasons: if I start caring about these things, will people look at me like that? And secondly, if I try to live sustainably does that mean no meat, no car, no international travel? This can be a barrier to males specifically, due to the age-old association between masculinity and meat consumption. It casts a third doubt: if I stop eating meat, will I be less of a man? The biggest problem here is assuming that living sustainably is a binary choice - that you have to go all out or nothing. Here is one of my favorite quotes from a zero-waste Chef, Anne Marie Bonneau: “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly”. I believe that it applies to all aspects of actions for sustainability, not just zero waste. If every person gave up eating meat for just one day a week, the impact would be huge!

Big or small, another problem is seeing how and if your actions will have an effect. For some, it is equally hard to see why there is a problem in the first place. For us, most of global warming’s effects are still conveniently out of sight, while many communities face loss of land due to sea-level rise, and threatened food supplies. Why would I sacrifice aspects of my lifestyle for something that is effectively invisible to me? To me, sustainability starts with realising that you are not above everything else. That the needs of others in the present and future are just as important as your own. On top of this, a healthy respect for your environment and the world around you breeds a form of respect for yourself and your own happiness. We need our planet and everything that it offers for us to live, so why would we want to threaten the world that nurtures us?

Big hugs for mother nature