Seniors and sustainability

Yes, seniors are sustainable as well


My trip to Kensington Place 

I was cautiously optimistic when I agreed to speak to seniors at the Kensington Place in Columbus, Ohio. The subject of my talk was five small ways to be more green which would have a large impact on the environment.  My audience would be seniors aged 85-100 who used to work as engineers and scientists.  Most articles written by experts point out millennials as the important adopters of sustainability going forward. More ever, teaching the young generation will help them adopt greener living practices.  However, in many cases the contribution of seniors who are our largest growing demographic gets over looked. Are seniors sustainable?  Here are the three talking points which caused the most discussion.

Plastic bottles/bags

The principle plastic bottles and bags are bad for the environment did not prove to be difficult to communicate. The concept of what to do proved to be a bit more challenging. One of my attendees was gracious enough to bring a plastic bag she uses for her shipping to show me. (I should have left the prop I brought to show during the presentation in the hotel) She made the decision to do away with plastic bags and so can everyone.

Should you need to drive to recycle?

One of the attendees mentioned during our question and answer session since she could no longer drive an automobile to the recycle facility she would not be able to recycle since there would be no other method to gather her recyclable materials. Is this how we want to encourage people to be stewards of our environment? I know organizations exist which will drive to your home or businesses and pick up your food waste. Therefore, I do not understand why the same thing could not be done for recyclables. Once of the resonant theme I made note of during my talks on sustainability is we need to make it easy for people to engage in sustainable life practices.

How can senior facilities be more sustainable for their residents?

Seniors are looking for easy ways to be involved. Being green can give to them opportunities to become involved in their communities. Why can’t seniors manage home gardens using native landscape and contributor to local food to their meals which will be cheaper and reduce their carbon footprint?

As we all get older

The amount of passion many of the attendees showed about the importance of being green caught me off guard. Perhaps I this was an oversight on my part. All the people on the front lines of the sustainability movement will eventually age and will expect to be as “green” in retirement as during their working lives.

The primary takeaway from my talk was being more green or to be formal implementing sustainable practices will impact bottom line of retirement homes due to reduced energy and water costs and waste but their improvement in the quality of the lives they live in their golden years is the most important takeaway point of all. Seniors are sustainable after all.