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Summary of the Talk “Roots and Seeds: Generations Cooperating for the Good of the Planet”

On February 27, 2024, we began our series of talks " Cooperate: The World is Going to End" . We open with a talk called Roots and seeds , in which we bring together people from different generations with the aim of knowing their vision on the climate crisis and, in general, the world of sustainability. Our goal is to promote intergenerational collaboration as a way to generate ideas and impact projects.

What do a school girl, a university student, a young professional and a woman in the middle years of life share?

The dialogue began with a reflection on the definition of sustainability from each generation, where we raised the need to expand the perspective of sustainable development to include all forms of life on the planet, transcending the predominant anthropocentric approach. We comment on the proposal of regenerative development, promoted by Daniel Christian Wahl, as a promising alternative, which goes beyond mere preservation and actively seeks to restore damaged ecosystems. (in case you don't know it yet, here you can explore more about their proposal)

During the conversation it became evident that the perception of climate change of all generations had evolved, we all demanded more information and proposed a stronger commitment as consumers, regardless of age. We were aware that children have and want to have decision-making power over their consumption, the problem is that they need more information that allows them to both make their own decisions and influence family consumption decisions.

How does cooperation between generations work?

The first and most important thing is to strengthen ties between different generations to promote deeper understanding and open environments of cooperation.

In urban areas, we live “by age” with children at school, adults at work and many older adults in residences. The ways and rhythms of life limit the transmission of knowledge between the youngest and the oldest, if we want to start cooperating between different generations, we will have to find the spaces to do so.

Older adults have a lot to tell, not because they were fierce environmentalists (because the concept of sustainable development and climate crisis did not even exist) but because life was different. The crises were caused by the post-war period, or simply by the weak economies of their places of origin. The relationship with nature was determined by the environment and culture, for example, knowing the medicinal properties of plants offered a very extensive and free pharmacy. Taking care of plants meant taking care of medicine and food, it was not a hobby, it was a way of life.

On the other hand, consumption was measured by the pocketbook and good habits. Food was not wasted and objects were repaired; in this golden age, consumption had not won the battle against good sense and was still considered a matter of needs, not aspirations.

The truth is that, a few years ago, life went slower and there was time to think and act accordingly, without the need to put labels or create trends. Here we touch on an interesting point:

The ways and rhythms of life limit the transmission of knowledge between the youngest and the oldest...

From the clothesline to the sun to Sundrying.

Traditional practices such as drying clothes in the sun are now back in fashion, but apparently not from the recognition of the ancient practice (what is old is still out of fashion) but from the modern perspective, which is apparently what "sells" the concept better. Tell a young person to dry their clothes in the sun and they may not find it as interesting as telling them to join in with sundrying. (confirmed by our youngest attendees)

This reflection led us to highlight the opportunity we have at our hands: Knowledge + creativity . Uniting the knowledge of the elderly, or ancestral wisdom, with the creativity of the youngest to enrich the approach to the climate crisis seems a promising tool, but again, we need to open the spaces and create projects to achieve this.

There are plenty of tips and tricks we could learn from grandparents. Those simple but clever little things they used to do that now seem a little forgotten. For example, “bread with tomato emerged as an ingenious way to use stale bread, a solution to food waste since time immemorial! Just like "heating up," the best way to give new life to leftovers and create a totally new and delicious dish.

Also, did you know that milk can also be an effective makeup remover? It is a natural and economical alternative to commercial products.

And what can we say about baking soda, it works for everything! a single product replaces 10 others (and their respective environmental impact). It is said that we begin to be older when we begin to recommend baking soda to anyone who asks us for a cure for heartburn or how to clean the kitchen counter.

Successful projects

We asked ourselves if there were already projects that worked on intergenerational cooperation and we found a couple of inspiring projects:

Adopt a Grandparent. This project promotes connection and exchange between generations. Through this initiative, older people are paired with young volunteers with the aim of establishing a meaningful and enriching relationship. Young people become adopted grandchildren, providing company, emotional support and participating in activities with grandparents. In return, elders share their wisdom, life experiences and practical knowledge with young people, fostering mutual learning and a mutually beneficial intergenerational relationship. This project not only combats loneliness and isolation in older people, but also promotes social inclusion and strengthens community ties. Additionally, it provides young people with a unique opportunity to learn from the history, culture and traditions of their elders, while cultivating a sense of responsibility and solidarity towards the community.

On the other hand, Environmental Health at School is an educational platform, created by adults who care about promoting environmental awareness and the health of children, for this reason they focus their work on the school environment. Through teaching resources, practical activities and educational materials adapted to different school levels, this initiative seeks to raise awareness among students, teachers and families about the importance of caring for the environment and adopting healthy lifestyle habits. The project addresses a wide range of topics related to environmental health, such as biodiversity conservation, waste management, air and water quality, sustainable food and climate change. In addition, it offers tools and strategies to integrate these topics transversally into the school curriculum, thus promoting a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to environmental education. If you want to learn more about the project, we leave you the presentation prepared by Nuria , the person responsible for the program for our talk.

Intergenerational proposals

The conclusion of the talk was the highlight of an enriching and collaborative dialogue, in which several innovative ideas were highlighted to foster cooperation between different generations. Lou and Juliana proposed the creation of gardens in the grandparents' houses, with the active participation of the children. This initiative not only provides an opportunity for seniors to pass on their knowledge about growing food and caring for the environment, but also strengthens family ties and promotes a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.

Samuel discussed the importance of carrying out climate change awareness campaigns aimed at both youth and adults . These campaigns could include educational activities, informative talks or audiovisual materials designed to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change and encourage individual and collective actions to mitigate its effects.

Laura He proposed the inclusion of children and young people in decision-making processes related to the industry and responsible consumption . This would involve providing them with opportunities to express their opinions, ideas and concerns on environmental and social issues, and taking concrete steps to address them. By involving children in these processes, they are empowered as agents of change and prepared to take an active role in building a more sustainable future.

These ideas represent practical and effective ways to promote intergenerational collaboration and work together toward a common goal of protecting the environment and improving the quality of life for present and future generations.

See you in the next talk!

Juliana & Maria

This talk was organized by Boicot al Plástico & Way To Zero Waste. 

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