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Grandfather holding grandson

There is growing, healthy activism to fix climate change and look after our world in a kinder way, there are still pockets of resistance and this week I wanted to talk about some of the older generations who find it harder to change.

So why is it important to engage all generations and what can we do?

First off, let’s give credit where it’s due The ’60s had it going on – peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll. But while they were busy tuning in and dropping out, the environment wasn’t exactly centre stage in their psychedelic minds. Fast forward to today, and their eco-conscious offspring are rocking reusable water bottles and giving them the skunk-eye for not composting.

Their burning issue of the day would have been the worry of nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia, women’s lib and workers rights, not climate crisis, deforestation and certainly not recycling.

They weren’t a bunch of eco-villains twirling their moustaches and plotting the demise of polar bears. They were just living in a different world, man. Recycling wasn’t the cool thing to do; it was more about better times after the 2nd world war, more freedom, the Beatles, fashion, the contraceptive pill, throwing peace signs and spreading love.

Fast forward to 2024, and they find themselves in a world where climate change is the talk of the town – or should we say, the planet. Sir Dave is shaming world leaders, St Greta is giving speeches, electric cars are zipping around, and everyone is hash tagging their support for the environment. It’s like they missed the memo, and now they’re trying to catch up.

To make the concept of sustainability more relatable to older generations, tapping into nostalgia can be a powerful tool. Many older people have witnessed significant changes in the environment over the decades. By connecting current environmental issues with past experiences, it becomes easier to convey the sense of urgency and the need for action. Nostalgia can serve as a bridge, maybe a green bridge, linking the past to the present and inspiring a collective effort to protect the planet for future generations.

Creating a sense of community around environmental initiatives can be a really positive way to engage older generations. Organising local events, workshops, or community projects that involve seniors can foster a sense of purpose and connection.

This approach not only provides practical knowledge about looking out for the environment but also allows older individuals to actively participate in the solution, making them feel valued and appreciated.

Families can be at the heart of this, I’ve never met one nan or grandad that doesn’t hang on every word of their grandchildren, and young people are now increasingly switched on and engaged with what we need to do.

Engaging older generations in the fight against climate change and promoting sustainable practices may pose challenges, but it is a crucial step in achieving a more sustainable future. By addressing information gaps, highlighting economic benefits, appealing to nostalgia, and fostering community engagement, we can build that green bridge that connects generations in the shared goal of preserving our planet for generations to come.

It’s essential to approach this task with empathy, understanding, and a commitment to creating a collective consciousness around the urgent need for climate action.

And it’s vital we never let them become like the old Hollywood star Groucho Marx who was a hilarious and sarcastic comedian.

He was asked the question in his later years “Groucho, what would you like to leave for future generations?

He replied, "Nothing! What have they ever done for me?"


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