Sustainability Blog

Sustainability Blog

Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Capgemini Group

Why were our grandparents more sustainable?

Category : General
A guest blog by Capgemini's Head of Sustainability Reporting, Bethan Richmond

My sister made an observation recently that our grandparent’s generation was so much more sustainable than our generation and wondered when we became so disposable in our consumerism. 
When did the relative affluence we enjoy in the developed worlds of the West remove our desire to look after our belongings, replace, instead of repair and lose our ability to instill these qualities in those around us? Are we really so busy today that it is easier to part with hard earned cash and throw away naturally depleting resources in favor of more?
More stuff, more status and yet more stuff.
I am reminded of an incident when my sister ran over the bike of next door’s kid who had left it near enough under the front wheels of her car. Mortified, she knocked on the door full of apology and ready to pay for the cost of repairing any damage. The response of “don’t worry about it we’ll just buy him a new one” provoked a much deeper despair. Let’s just throw it away and get a new one.
At the time I wondered what we are teaching our young people about the value of their possessions and how this translates into how they live their lives and ultimately value themselves and others around them.
It  made me wonder, that in an age of overwhelming information and awareness of the dangers of climate change and our finite planetary systems, why our grandparents had the desire to be sustainable (although I am sure they didn’t call it that) and our generation appears not to.
I have heard it suggested that within business at least, the agenda is still to become mainstream as it is viewed as environmentalism, with sustainability practitioners highly paid tree huggers!
I’d like to say I’ve never hugged a tree in my life but there may be photographic evidence to the contrary! In my defense I was in Ecuador and there are certain trees that actually cool you down in the humidity if you hug them – who knew tree hugging could be so functional?
Which leads me on to my point, how can we be more positive about sustainability and more aware of the benefits and associated opportunities. Are those who advocate for sustainability perceived as enforcers rather than enablers? Perhaps if as individuals, as well as knowing that we should do something, we actually wanted to do something, we could change the hearts and minds of those around us.
So, how can we show sustainability positively, as an enabler, an opportunity and a way to a great future as opposed to highlighting all the things that we shouldn’t do? And maybe encourage changes not only in action but in those hearts and minds…..

Bethan Richmond is Capgemini’s Head of Sustainability Reporting. Bethan has been with Capgemini for ten years and has served in a variety of project management roles before joining the Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability team.

Bethan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Swansea and is currently undertaking her Masters in Sustainability Leadership, Sustainability and Organizational Leadership with the University of Cambridge.

This blog originally appeared on Bethan’s own Wordpress blog

About the author

Brian Doherty
Brian Doherty
Brian Doherty is the Sustainability Communications and Change lead. He has worked in the IT industry for more than 30 years in roles ranging from mainframe support technician to business development and marketing. Brian has been a champion for green IT services for some time and is responsible for ensuring coherent and meaningful communications about Capgemini's environmental sustainability, community engagement, responsible delivery obligations and market presence.
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Nice to read this article...

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