Daryl Ilbury

Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

When sustainability is literally in your hands

In Eish!, Science, Scoundrels on July 27, 2012 at 9:36 am

Sometimes we create the sting

I would hazard a guess most people watching the Olympics don’t see it the way I do – as both an environmental nightmare and an opportunity.

Wherever people get together in large numbers, there’s inevitably an unholy mess, and this year’s Olympics is no exception. But it can also provide those hoping to develop in consumers a mindset of sustainability a chance to capitalise on an event that has the world’s attention.

I have a problem with people who litter; I find them offensive and nauseating. But ‘littering’ has a sliding scale. There are those who throw stuff out of moving cars or who wilfully toss cans and wrappers¬†on to the street whilst standing within walking distance of rubbish bins. They are the worst. They are purposeful litterers. They have no interest in contributing to a sustainably society. Evolution will take care of them.

But then there are those who don’t wilfully litter but who contribute to littering by over-consumption. They’ll take 3 or 4 sachets of tomato ketchup from a take-away food stall, when only 1 or 2 will do, then eventually throw the others away. They will collect flyers and other handouts given to them – because they see them as free – only to throw them away soon afterwards. They are unaware that their ‘enthusiastic’ consumption is contributing to landfill sites. In my opinion, they are littering.

Now, bearing in mind the money tied up in sponsoring rights, imagine the pure volume of promotional paraphernalia distributed at this year’s Olympic Games, that will be taken, casually examined and then discarded? Did the organisers think of that?

In their bid for the games, the British Olympic Organisation promoted the term ‘sustainability‘, as they should have done – but only if they were serious about it. It seems they have done quite a bit to ensure that the environmental impact of hundreds of thousands of people converging on one of the world’s biggest cities is minimised.

However, if an opportunity is to be embraced to encourage the concept of sustainability amongst consumers of the games, it needs to be brought closer to them.

Greener Upon Thames, a not-for-profit environmental organisation, has been pushing for a plastic bag-free games. That won’t happen in these games; but perhaps the best we can hope for is that people¬†attending the games are encouraged not to mindlessly grab the promotional bags of goodies that are expected to be thrust in their direction.

Whether or not the games are sustainable is, to a degree, literally in their hands.