Sustainability: Surviving or Thriving?
So, I’ve conformed to type. Just a few weeks after turning 45, I went out and bought a carbon fibre road bike – one which I cannot really justify in terms of either affordability or ability. But I had to have one. And I got one. And I love it. I am a MAMIL.
I’ve also entered the 64-mile Cyclone Sportive in a couple of weeks time. With young kids it’s hard to get training in, but I’m determined to do so, both to get used to the new bike and get my legs used to some work. I took this morning off and did 37 miles (plus coffee/cake stop, above), rushing back for a small child handover (it’s half term). Mrs K is very bemused by all this, in a reasonably tolerant way.
“You’ll get round fine.” she said as we compared diaries for some more training slots.
“Yes, but I want to get round in style.” I shot back.
As I pedalled I mulled on the parallels between getting by and excelling in cycling and in Sustainability. Some organisations take the “What’s the minimum we can do to keep out of jail?” approach, others aim for mid-table mediocrity, but the best take great pleasure in striving for excellence. They don’t just want to meet their targets, they want to raise the bar and do it in style. I want to enjoy my sportive, and I want to do, for me, an excellent time, not just get round.
You can scale these mindsets up to the global level – when we achieve Sustainability, do we want to be surviving or thriving? I saw a mind map on LinkedIn yesterday whose underlying assumption is that we need to get rid of plastic. I countered that plastic gives us many great things – lightweight fuel-efficient vehicles (including road bikes), packaging which cuts food waste and almost every household appliance – rather we need to phase out plastic waste.
In fact, if you followed all the suggestions on the mind map to the letter, we’d be back in the days of subsistence farming – scraping an existence. How are you going to sell that to the public? How are you going to sell that to me, for goodness sake?
You’ll never sell a hair shirt (and why would you want to?), we’ve got to sell a compelling vision of humanity thriving in a sustainable future. So let’s do Sustainability and lets do it in style!