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NOW CLOSED Universal Children's Day: Why in the UK are we less optimistic about global issues than developing countries - share your views - you could win a £100 voucher

(108 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 18-Nov-13 12:04:41

Mumsnet are working closely with Unilever (now a member of our family friendly programme!) to provide opinion on a number of sustainability projects.

On Monday we asked whether your children inspired you to live more sustainably? Thanks for all the responses.

And today (Wednesday) Unilever say "Today is Universal Childrens Day and research from Unilever Project Sunlight reveals that 6 in 10 children are worried about global issues, but in spite of this remain twice as optimistic about the future than their parents. In fact, UK parents were less optimistic than those in developing countries"

So the additional question today is why do you think we are less optimistic in the UK?

Let us know on this thread your views on both questions and you'll be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £100 Sainsbury's voucher.

Thanks and good luck


CTay3 Mon 18-Nov-13 15:45:15

My son's school has 'green warriors' and the school encourages green initiatives with a number of theme weeks such as walk to school week. So he learns about green issues at school, which he then polices at home, turning off the tap while brushing his teeth or questioning which bin to put the rubbish in.

We recycle a lot and if I forget or go to put anything in the bin that could be recycled or composted ds reminds me grin I used to be a recycling officer when I was in school but we didn't do half the recycling that happens now

Preciousbane Mon 18-Nov-13 16:12:34

DS was on the school Eco committee at his primary school, he had to make a short speech and they got involved with lots of initiatives in the school. In secondary school the eco stuff is under the general umbrella of school council which he managed to get voted on to again.

He is always reminding his Dad to switch lights off.

gretagrape Mon 18-Nov-13 16:21:54

We are digging a plot of our garden up to grow some organic fruit and veg next year, we always choose British meat/fruit/veg over imported where available and use the local Pick Your Own farm in the summer.

We recycle, but most importantly we try to cut down on the waste coming INTO the house in the first place.

We buy secondhand goods - toys, books, clothes, furniture - so not creating more demand for cheap tat from China, and always choose natural materials over man-made.

And I try not to buy overpriced branded goods made on the cheap by multinational corporations who put a squeeze on competition by owning brands in every market sector.........

bestbefore Mon 18-Nov-13 16:29:04

I also recycle a lot more now....council does make it easier but I guess with children we also consume more and therefore have more waste now especially wine bottles

I hate toys with too much packaging

I use my own bags in the supermarket <polishes halo> - am on a challenge with myself and those "bags for life".

Yiska Mon 18-Nov-13 16:40:53

My DS was on the Green team and lots of initiatives seemed to come through the school. He was really keen we joined in 'walk-to-school' and he keeps turning down the heating <brrrr>.

Hearing Eddie the Penguin Saves the World songs over and over again is pretty compelling reason to scream recycle more.

MaddAddam Mon 18-Nov-13 17:00:47

With one child we went to Australia and Hong Kong (lots of air miles), with two we went to Spain (still some air miles) but with 3 under 5 we just tottered weakly to the local park. So that was quite a dramatic drop in carbon emissions.

And now they're a bit older and we could travel well emotionally the cost of 5 flights in peak holiday time is a bit eye watering so we've embraced the local camping options with gusto. Another drop in emissions due to having children.

In general though I think having children give a serious motivation to conserving the planet for them and their children. I feel quite obliged to try and leave them a decent ecosystem.

Lurkymclurker Mon 18-Nov-13 17:13:24

Dd has given us time to do more of those one day things, we go camping more, we eat more home cooked foods with local produce and we recycle a lot more.

We also use a lot more of the traditional cleaning products like baking soda, lemons and elbow grease as I worry more about chemicals and her exposure to them.

I guess having a child makes you a lot more conscious of the choices you make and of your carbon footprint so we've certainly cut back on holidays abroad.

Having a child probably increases your water use so I'm conscious of getting DS to shower with me rather than having a separate bath every evening.

I buy frozen veg to cut back on what we waste / leave to rot in the veg drawer of the fridge. We recycle as much as we can and I'm keen to compost our food waste and grow our own herbs and veg.

I use a mooncup rather than creating sanitary waste and am toilet training DS to get him out of nappies asap. Small steps...

Fumnudge Mon 18-Nov-13 17:26:54

She definitely nags to recycle every last scrap but the vest thing we do us growing our own. This year it was tomatoes, strawberry, peas and lettuce, we're bracing corn on the cob next year!
The carrots were a disaster though!

clubnail Mon 18-Nov-13 17:35:51

We have always been green, and recycle everthing where possible. Having a child, we went down the reusable nappy route. The disposable nappies destined for landfill are catastrophic. Didn't want to be part of that. He was also out of nappies at 12 months inside, so only using them for trips out, maybe one a day up til 18 months. A huge saving for the planet.
We will grow our own veg and fruit as soon as we move house (new year, hopefully). We want to leave a better planet for our DC.

Kveta Mon 18-Nov-13 17:38:23

I'm not sure they have actually - we didn't use formula or pre-prepared baby food, but did use disposable nappies, and once DS arrived I couldn't commute via public transport anymore, so had to start using the car to get around. So I think on balance we didn't make a positive change there at all.

However, now I am not working, we try to walk everywhere, as I think it's good for all of us to get out in the fresh air, plus it wears the DC out. theoretically, anyway. I do cook much more from basic ingredients rather than ever relying on ready meals, but we rarely used ready meals pre-DC anyway. And we recycle more because the council has enabled us to do so.

Maybe we will be more eco-friendly as they get older, start sleeping, and we are less desperate just to survive from one day to the next?

BlackberrySeason Mon 18-Nov-13 18:24:07

Just by being born - thinking about wanting a non-polluted planet to hand on.

EauRouge Mon 18-Nov-13 18:43:12

I'm a keen gardener and I'm encouraging my DDs to join in so they can see how food is grown and harvested. I'm hoping that when we move we'll have a bit more land so that we can become semi-self-sufficient. DD1 has already said that her job is going to be looking after the ducks.

We also talk about not wasting water, electricity or other resources (loo roll being the main one that gets wasted) and they both know what goes in the compost and what goes in the recycling.

I was aware of all this before they were born but now that they're here, I do wonder how things will be for them when they grow up- which resources will be more scarce for example. I think skills like growing their own food and raising livestock could be very useful to them in the future.

Before ds1 was born we grew our own vegetables etc but not much more. After DS1 was born both dh and I really committed to living differently for the sake of our children, we want them to grow up respecting the planet, respecting what we eat and where it comes from and moving away from a consumerism culture. We now are very fortunate to live on a small holding so able to grow all our food and rear our own meat. We recycle everything possible, re-using what we can at home and then recycling other bits. We try to limit what we buy from shops. We make almost all our own food from scratch including bread, cheese, and more fun things like wine, cider etc. DH spends hours with the children teaching them what they can eat from the wild, and what other resources they can use for making things etc. We try to reflect these morals in most of what we do, for example most of our heat, hot water etc comes from a log burner; at Christmas we make the children's main presents out of recycled items, last year we made a full farm set and have made a rocking horse for example.
We love our way of life now, but do recognise we are extremely lucky to be able to live like we do.

milliemoon Mon 18-Nov-13 19:33:53

I recycle as much as I can now. When my son arrived we went from having about one black bag of rubbish a week to sometimes three or four. Recycling helps keep it down and it's good to think I'm doing my bit for the planet and my son's future!

I have to add nothing quite as lovely as ds choosing which vegetables to eat for dinner from his veg garden then us cooking them together. He eats everything, and also has a real respect for the meat we eat and the animals welfare.

gazzalw Mon 18-Nov-13 19:40:53

Our DCs have both been eco-warriors at primary school and the lessons they've learned at school have been brought home and reinforced by them. Having said that, we have a bit of a reduce/re-use/recycle mantra to the way we live our lives - I think our twenty-something selves would probably regard us as environmental 'nuts'. We find it addictive really - once the children learn to recycle and reduce energy waste as we do it becomes impossible not to adhere to the 3R rule!

VerySmallSqueak Mon 18-Nov-13 20:02:10

I think the arrival of the children has made me think more globally.

All this is not just to protect our childrens futures ,but also to try to protect the here and now for others on this planet.

I have definitely become more into wanting to spread the wealth and resources globally,and there's only enough to go round if we tackle our own greed and teach our kids to tread lightly.

Theimpossiblegirl Mon 18-Nov-13 20:45:46

Having children made me think beyond my own lifetime. We need to do more to care for the environment as the planet they are due to inherit is a bit of a state really.

The best way to teach kids is leading by example, so we recycle, try to combine journeys, monitor our energy usage and try to live non-wasteful lives.

We grow some of our own food and try to buy local produce when we can.

We also actively support charities such as Greenpeace.

It all seems so little though, when there is so much to be done and so few people even bother.

BitchinInTheKitchen Mon 18-Nov-13 21:29:40

I hated the thought of all the landfill a baby would generate so both of mine had washable nappies from birth rather than Pampers etc.

I always had some disposable ones in for emergencies but the washable ones were fantastic.

sharond101 Mon 18-Nov-13 21:35:21

My DS is only 18mo but since his arrival I have made a pledge to be a good example to him and now walk to the shops, take my own carrier bags and recycle everything where possible. He likes to touch buttons and switches so that helps in putting all the lights out. We are also saving money by going to baby boot sales and buying toys and clothes second hand.

Punkatheart Mon 18-Nov-13 23:15:08

To watch my little girl's joy digging up our teeny-tiny potatoes is a gorgeous memory. She is older now and I have less energy for growing food - but I do grow herbs.

nobalance Tue 19-Nov-13 07:52:04

Them being here reminds us of the need to preserve our planet, for our children and their childrens' children...

PoopMaster Tue 19-Nov-13 08:30:39

Before DD1 was born we started to look into cloth vs disposable nappies. This led us to realise how much landfill we were contributing to in general (we ended up going for cloth with Eco disposables for out and about), it focused our attention and we've tried since then to cut down on packaging.

Now she is 2 we never forget our bags for life when going shopping, as she loves to carry them!

We also save a lot more food than we used to, most meals we try to keep back a small portion for her lunch the following day, and we're a lot more creative with leftovers.

CrewElla Tue 19-Nov-13 08:44:39

To be honest I wonder if some of our changes will be short lived, e.g. we have only gone on holiday in the UK since our boys were born but I think that have more to do with us having less money than a conscious decision to lessen our carbon footprint.

We already recycled as much as possible and generally eat home cooked from scratch meaks rather than ready meals, so that hasn't changed.

I think the only real changes I can point out are buying organic when we can (sometimes it isn't available or is prohibitively expensive) and using a steam cleaner as much as possible instead of chemicals.

Womblemom Tue 19-Nov-13 09:04:26

Having kids makes you think about the future more and therefore your impact on the environment.

My kids are pre-school age but they understand the importance of recycling and help remind us what can be recycled and what goes in the bin. I use the bus with them rather than the car as they find it such a novelty, and it saves on the family fuel bill!

Christmas and birthdays always make me think what an impact kids could have on the environment - all those bin bags full of wrapping and packaging on toys and the attitude that the old toys get thrown out in favour of the new ones. I think carefully about what to ask family to buy them as gifts i.e. choose those with less packaging and which will last a few years, rather than a baby toy which will use lots of batteries and be used for only a few months.

SaltySeaBird Tue 19-Nov-13 10:43:13

Having a child has meant a drop in income so we have to be a bit more sustainable in the way that we live now.

I'm more likely to mend and make do than to spend money replacing things. I also walk a lot more too than I used to as fuel was getting expensive going between different baby related groups and activities.

Crumblemum Tue 19-Nov-13 11:28:35

Hi there

I think the best thing is making me a bit less cynical. Our local A&E was recently facing closure. Lots of petitions/ posters/ marches. Although I opposed it I was really cynical that the local action would do anything. My son, after hearing about it at school, really wanted to get involved, so we did and the campaign actually won. After a legal challenge in the courts the planned closure was ruled unlawful!

HannahLI Tue 19-Nov-13 11:44:05

They like the sustainable stuff more so they remind me to take reusable bags when we shop, we make more meals and bake from scratch as they enjoy helping so we don't get as much packaging, and the love sorting out the reycling we do make into the right places. If they had it there way we would grow more too.

weenwee Tue 19-Nov-13 11:51:42

There is something to be said for fear scenarios. I was in terror during pregnancy that the kid would get ahold of a bottle of cleanser, or try to eat a (clean) diaper and get those little gel balls in him, so I threw out the old cleansers and learned how to make my own, naturally. We also cloth diapered (without a dryer, I might add!), so I knew exactly what was going on his skin, as well as cleaning the floor/his high chair/the walls every day. Those little changes have made a big difference for our family, both in our 'green' status as well as our wallets - homemade cleansers and cloth diapering worked out to be MUCH cheaper than store bought nappies and cleaners! We now container garden and compost, and love getting the kid involved with both those activities!

Geckos48 Tue 19-Nov-13 11:54:26

Well I suppose the obvious one is that I am much poorer with children than without, so I have ended up finding ways to stretch things further.

We have a refillable tub of washing up liquid that we fill up every month

we have a woodburner so that I know if nothing else, if all the electric goes off and gas goes off, we can heat our home and keep the kids warm.

Kipsy Tue 19-Nov-13 12:13:52

- Less food waste - as a result of better food planning, cooking from scratch
- More recycling and up-cycling.
- Safer and eco cleaning products - better for the skin and better for the environment
- Walking/scooting/cycling to places rather than driving as they enjoy being outdoors
- Planting/Growing own vegetables

VerySmallSqueak Tue 19-Nov-13 13:46:36

Yes,I am definitely more mindful of what I am putting in,and on,their bodies.
I certainly try to source stuff that is as unprocessed,natural and organic as my purse will stretch to,because I don't want their bodies full of chemicals.

MadMonkeys Tue 19-Nov-13 13:59:12

Dd1 wants to know all about everything, nothing escapes her notice so u have to make sure i always recycle or compost everything I can... Also out budget is rather more squeezed,since having kids so i really do have to make do and mend. I buy and sell on ebay all the time and eeuse anything i can.

My son learned all about recycling at nursery and so he loves to do it at home. We also have a compost bin and some ducks so he loves taking the veg peelings etc over to the paddock. If it weren't for him they would probably go in the normal bin!
I also save materials for his craft projects so I guess that's recycling (until they get thrown in the blue bin!) but I suppose it saves buying craft materials.
I also am much more conscious of turning off lights and not using the heating too much but that's more to do with not having much money now I have two dc grin

Oh another thing I definitely buy second hand stuff which I never did before and sell things I would have previously thrown out so things go around a few times now.
I would rather mend his jeans than chuck them out and we grow loads of veg in the garden which I started doing for weaning so that it was all good quality veg the kids were eating. It's fab and gives me a lot of satisfaction to see then tucking into something we have grown.

CheeseTMouse Tue 19-Nov-13 15:27:16

Having a baby and being at home all day has really made me think about energy costs and energy waste and so we are trying to do something about that. We are getting some windows double glazed (the cost to do them all is prohibitive) and also about to put additional insulation in the loft so that we use less energy keeping the house warm at home all day.

We have also done some simple things like insulate the back door with an old curtain to try and stop so much heat escaping. It made a 2 degree difference!

We recycle as much as we can - we found some old furniture in the loft left by previous owners and that has been donated to a charity who picked them up yesterday. We even freecycled our old doors when we got them replaced.

WowOoo Colombia Tue 19-Nov-13 16:54:26

Having children has made me think about problems that will increasingly affect the world when I'm gone: overpopulation, water shortages, pollution and energy consumption.
So, we've tried to do our bit. Reusable nappies, growing our own and recycling and using second hand or hand me down things for the kids.

I've been encouraged by the dc to do the 'walk to school'. But in all honesty, they only want to do it for the cool badges and tend to forget about the other benefits.

10thingsihateaboutpoo Tue 19-Nov-13 18:27:49

We've cut down massively on the amount of things that come into the house, there's less waste if there's less stuff to begin with. I try to buy food with less packaging (I get wound up when people do things like put bananas in a small plastic bag, er you peel them?!?). I involve DD1 in recycling. I'm definitely trying to be more sustainable and teach her good habits.

NotCitrus Tue 19-Nov-13 18:43:13

I'm a lot more conscious of litter after years of ds asking "why's that bottle/can/whatever on the pavement?" and take home lots of glass bottles to recycle before they smash. MrNC is worried people will think we're alcoholics but I don't like litter on my street.

I already recycled lots and used cloth nappies - mainly for cost and then non-rash reasons. Ds used to demand 'Orange nappy!' or "want red nappy" so thinks of them as normal. He's seen us do loads of building work on the house so knows about the importance of insulation! We also walk places a lot and don't use the car much - public transport is more fun with small children, but it also means my kids know how to find a bus or train and get where they are going. Walking is also good exercise which I'm not a great role model for otherwise!

GetKnitted Tue 19-Nov-13 20:47:44

ds is my inspiration to recycle, had become rather jaded about the whole thing when i heard they were shipping it out to china (literally)

supergreenuk Tue 19-Nov-13 21:39:35

I've always felt guilty for the amount of nappies that go to landfill. We looked into a company that recycles them to make various products but we never did it after researching the company.

MistyB Tue 19-Nov-13 21:51:26

I have always been averagely environmentally conscious but still fly, have a car, buy new clothes, toys etc so my halo has never had a chance to grow or an opportunity to be shined.

However, having DC3 has lead me down all sorts of avenues I have never dreamed of. He reacts to anything with petroleum in it, rubber, latex, toys, toothpaste, and many many food items. I shop at a fantastic organic supermarket where I buy things in brown paper bags that have mostly been sourced locally and transported without unnecessary cold storage or air freight.

We choose our toys more carefully, have replaced his mattress with a coconut fibre one, we use even more limited and simple cleaning products than before and eat food cooked from basic ingredients (though I do dream of eating a really unhealthy takeaway out of polystyrene followed by the brightest most sugary sweets, it is unlikely to happen any day soon!)

I know more about nutrition than I has ever wanted to and delight in making fabulous snacks out of things that your body needs that also taste great!

prettybird Tue 19-Nov-13 22:24:05

I was already consciously trying to avoid waste, so in that respect ds hasn't changed anything.

Ds has already shown signs of being a hoarder though - won't let me throw things out 'cos he might use them hmm

Oreocrumbs Tue 19-Nov-13 22:30:04

Since having DD, I have become more aware of setting a good example of how we should be living . Pre children our lives were full of convenience.

Little things like taking time out when walking the dogs to pick berries and take them home and eat/cook with them. I walked in the same places before - but it just didn't occur to me to pick blackberries. I would order them with the weekly shop.

I buy more fresh local produce too. I didn't use the greengrocer or farm shops before. I was too busy, (clearly not, as I have since found out! Where do the hours come from that children need?) But now I make an effort to walk up to the village and spend a little time choosing food, as local and seasonal as possible.

My main motivation is in teaching my DD about these things - but I enjoy it.

I also am so much more aware of my effects on the planet. We walk rather than drive where possible, I am far more savvy about how much energy we use - I want to set a good example, to teach her the cost both financial and on a global scale of how we live.

I didn't really think about 'the big picture' that much pre DC, but now I have a little person to bring up, I want to do what I can, even though it is miniscule in the grand scheme of things, to make sure there is a good future for her, and that she grows up equipped with the knowledge and skills to live in it as well as possible.

Ruby6918 Tue 19-Nov-13 22:39:35

Because of the amount of litter that kids and adults can throw away even on a day out, i realised very quickly that most bins are always full and people litter everywhere so i always brought black bags, always got my kids involved in tidying up where we had been and they now never litter and know where to put certain items in the right bins etc at home, and they are 11 and twelve, i hope that my kids will pass this on to their children so that we can all look after our lovely world, its easily passed on but schools need to get more involved as well to educate them there too,

starfishmummy Tue 19-Nov-13 23:07:37

I have been interested in environmental issues for a long time - back to the times when those of us who recycled were thought to be a bit strange. As governor, I went on a training session and subsequently managed to persuade the teacher governor/headteacher to set up an eco team. The staff and students have really taken an interest in this and hopefully take the ideas home to their parents.

IAlwaysThought Wed 20-Nov-13 00:06:03

We lived in a very poor country and my kids worked with children from disadvantaged communities as part of their schools outreach program. I think it has helped them realise that you can live with very few possessions if you need to. They are happy to make do with old things or to buy cheap alternatives. I am glad because we have enough money to buy what we want.
It makes me look at what I buy.

I think we are less optimistic as we seem to have a lot of people who resign themselves to saying what difference can one person make so they dont do it. having children i think encourages you to think more about how you are living in order to save money as well as set the example that you want too

CrewElla Wed 20-Nov-13 14:45:45

Watching the nightly news or reading the daily papers makes my world view a little more negative. It's a constant bombardment of how many things can and are going wrong; when one of the outlets does do a good news story they are castigated for doing a puff piece.

VerySmallSqueak Wed 20-Nov-13 14:59:25

I think it's because adults in this country can see the greed around them.

nobalance Wed 20-Nov-13 14:59:42

I think in the UK these days there us so much pressure to succeed that even when we do well we feel we are falling short of what we should achieve and are therefore failing

Kveta Wed 20-Nov-13 15:13:29

Adults do tend to be less optimistic, or as I prefer to see it, more realistic, than children anyway, don't they?!

GetKnitted Wed 20-Nov-13 16:14:42

I think we're probably less optomistic because we have been convinced that we're consumers first and people second (or worse), our community and family strucures are weaker (though of course there are still some very active communities andd tight knit families). I dont see what unilever could or should do about that, but vair kind of them to stimullate the discussion by appealling to our greed/optomism that we might win!

Theimpossiblegirl Wed 20-Nov-13 16:40:48

I think we are less optimistic because we get daily exposure to the news, including many global environmental issues. Maybe I'm pessimistic (realistic) but I think a lot of people are a bit naive about the whole thing.

People think it's mostly media hype and I know so many people that don't even make the effort to recycle properly- clever, educated people who should know better. It really gets my goat to be honest.

However, if big corporations and governments aren't doing enough I can see why people are a bit apathetic about the whole thing.

NumptyNameChange Wed 20-Nov-13 16:43:44

because we are educated and have access to world media and can see the reality of what multinationals such as unilever are really doing to the world and how much power they have.

NumptyNameChange Wed 20-Nov-13 16:45:14

and what a daft question really. my 6yo is optimistic that he is the best pool player in the world despite barely being able to hit the white.

Bubbles85 Wed 20-Nov-13 17:13:12

I think we live quite sustainably already. Although I am always open to new suggestions!

I think we might be less optimistic because we hear about global issues on a daily basis in the press. I always mention that the news is so depressing nowadays.

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Wed 20-Nov-13 17:32:55

I'm not sure the company that created and produces the 'Fair and Lovely' skin bleaching products or Axe/Lynx and their misogynistic adverts and messages are very family friendly for many. Nor very sustainable themselves - children can inspire parents, but focusing on families making small changes when corporations and industries like Unilever cutting would have far more impact makes their question even more disingenuous.

I think part of the issue with optimism is not having a clear path of how to make things better. We know things need to change, but the hows and whats are still lost in the fog compared to areas still developing which still has clear cut goals (and imposed goals by others). I'm more optimistic for my children than I am for me as I can see people working on making things better and making plans and there is so much more information and guidance for them than I was able to access. It won't be easy as the media likes to tell them if they do the "right thing" like we were told, but I can see the slow steps being made.

(Also, It's United Nation's Children's Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, many other countries and cultures had a Children's Day before that and keep their old dates. It is also the Transgender Day of Remembrance to grieve those murdered.

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Wed 20-Nov-13 17:33:55
manfalou Wed 20-Nov-13 21:08:16

My eldest is 3 and knows that something go in the black bin, some in the blue etc Doesn't quite understand what yet but does ask which it goes in so already getting to know that you separate your rubbish. We did this before and throw very little... we try and give to charity, sell or recycle before actually throwing away

I think that the UK are less optimistic because we hear more about Global warming, the effects vehicles etc have on the planet, how sustainable things really are to us... We not only hear about it more in this country but also think 'well we could never live without cars, we could never live without boilers' etch etc... People in developing countries are less likely to hear about whats going on with the planet and if they did then they would possibly think we could just stop using all the things that are destroying the planet as they may not use them much and would have the 'we can't live without' attitude. They probably don't contribute to global sustainability issues as much either.

sharond101 Wed 20-Nov-13 22:03:51

I think with the economy crisis and cuts to benefits, NHS etc all we see is negativity. It's rare to notice a positive story in the news these days. All this makes us less optimistic about everything going on in the world.

JS06 Thu 21-Nov-13 11:13:48

Do my children inspire me to live more sustainably? Possibly, they've grown up with different recycling bins, environmental lessons at school, an awareness about the world which encourages them to think and argue their point sensibly. I am sometimes pulled up sharp by them for carelessly flinging a tin in the 'normal' bin rather than rinsing it and recycling it. In the long run this can only be good of course. Conversely I travel in the car umpteen more miles than my parents ever did to take my children to after school activities - swimming, footie, rugby, dancing. We have no option as we live in a rural location but there are definitely opposing forces when I come to answer this question!

Why do I think we are less optimistic in the UK about the future?

We are overloaded with information each day, morning news at breakfast, car radio, tv programmes, newspapers, social media, the computer blasts us with info about instant news and images. There is no doubt we can consider ourselves informed but I think our access to information is sophisticated so there's no wonder we have opportunities to digest this and then feel positive or negative accordingly. Developing countries on the other hand don't always have the access to information we do. i think it's hard to make a reasoned parallel between us here in the UK and developing countries.

MeMySonAndI Thu 21-Nov-13 18:27:07

I don't think it is that we are less optimistic about global issues in the UK, it is just that having a richer community allow its members to dwell, reflect and make assumptions on global issues that, in other less favourable conditions, would be simply ignored to be able to focus on more pressing needs.

If the population of a country is mainly focused in covering their more immediate needs via a great struggle, they don't have time to think about other distant issues that do not affect them directly, they (and I am sure I did at some point) just assume that everything will be ok at the end.

Do my child influence me to live in a more sustainable way? Of course he doesn't, it is the other way around. Being sustainable means planning ahead for the future, he is too worried about his most immediate "needs" to get overly distracted with other things.

ouryve Thu 21-Nov-13 18:55:27

I don't think my children have had any effect on my attitude to living sustainably. If anything, DS1 frustrates me because he thinks something should be replaced if it's "old", regardless of whether it's perfectly functional or not.

As far as comparing our attitudes with those of people in developing countries goes, perhaps that's because we have access to more information and possibly less propaganda?

MeMySonAndI Thu 21-Nov-13 19:26:29

Other developing countries have access to he information (they may not have as many reporting teams as we do, but there plenty of information agencies that make news available to developing and developed countries' newspapers and broadcasters for a more affordable price.

Having said, another thing we have in Britain is TIME, we have very reasonable working day that allow for us to spend time pondering about global issues or even joining charities to defend certain causes, I am sure that there should be other countries in the world where people are getting ready to head home at 5pm but you don't even need to go out of Europe to find that the average end of work time is somewhere around 8 pm. When you leave work that late you really don't have much time (or energy) to dwell over global issues, unless they are affecting you directly.

NumptyNameChange Thu 21-Nov-13 22:01:35

right, so awareness of global economics and politics and the direction being taken by multinationals is just having too much time on your hands to navel gaze?

well done unilever - it seems your glib marketing does have a target audience. they'll be calling for us to work 18hrs a day and have less access to information for our own good before you know it. all those happy people in developing countries they just prove how good it is to be poor and not have proper healthcare and how we should all be living 12 to a house and looking after our elderly relatives and not worrying about silly things like politics or the environment or personal freedoms or the right to a standard of living or the reality of mega rich multinationals raking in billions whilst much of the world's population can't even access basic healthcare.

Hopezibah Thu 21-Nov-13 22:16:08

yes having kids has inspired me to live more sustainably. Not just because I want the earth protected for their future but just because I can't hide from doing the things I talk to them about.
It would feel so hypocritical to be teaching them about issues around the world and how we can help and then not do enough about it ourselves.

In terms of why in the UK we are not so optimistic - perhaps we prefer to moan about things rather than make a difference?

Perhaps we've tried to make a difference and got nowhere in the past?

Perhaps we've been let down by those in power speaking the rhetoric but not matching it with reality?

Perhaps we've seen too many big organisations give lip service to green issues rather than make it truly part of who they are?

Perhaps the products and services we associated with being green have been let-downs in the past in terms of cost and quality. Yet truly great green products are often far superior to their counterparts if only we give them a chance.

Perhaps we are relying on big organisations and powerful people to start making the big differences and driving more change and not believing in ourselves that we too can make a difference?

BitchinInTheKitchen Thu 21-Nov-13 23:06:41

I think it is all relative, so UK parents now compare themselves to the older baby boom generation and can't help but feel less optimistic about things, eg houses, income, pensions, retirement age, crime levels, antisocial behaviour in society, broken Britain etc.

Maybe their counterparts in developing countries still still the potential for their life be an improvement on their parents lives?

Tikkamasala Fri 22-Nov-13 00:20:12

Yes, makes me think of the need to keen the planet clean and green for future generations

NicNak71 Fri 22-Nov-13 01:14:35

To be honest, my opinion is that when you live in the abject poverty that some of those families in the developing world live in - children living and crawling through "the worlds" rubbish to try and scrape together a few pennies selling garbage, then you have to be optimistic - life doesn't get much worse, does it?.

When they are interviewed in television documentaries they all smile and happily tell the tv crew that one day they will have a better life, one day they will all be Drs, lawyers etc. I do admire their optimisim, but also believe that it is a reaction of circumstances, better to imagine a better life, than to accept the reality.

Perhaps the lack of optimism in the UK is down to the fact that we have accepted the reality! The entire world needs to change to make things better and that isn't such a simple thing to do.

Mamafratelli Fri 22-Nov-13 09:53:10

My kids definitely push me to be more sustainable. Their school is fab on recycling so the kids make sure we recycle everything we can. Did you know egg boxes cut up make fantastic egg cups? Neither did I but my 6 yo dd did smile

I also think its a good thing that we are more realistic about the future here. I lived in a developing country for three years and very few thought about the environment it just wasn't a priority. There were no recycling collections, lots of deforestation and dumping rubbish into the sea. However, people were optimistic because for them life was improving. The town was growing, there were new job opportunities and improved access to information and education. I think we need to take our childrens pessimism as a positive and do something about it.

telsa Fri 22-Nov-13 10:35:51

My children inspire me to live more sustainably because I do not want to trash this world that they are inheriting and I want to demonstrate to them how we should care for our environment,.

I think we are less optimistic in this country because we have the most rapaciously greedy, hypocritical, lying, vicious ruling class in all of Europe who will do everything to feather their own nest while letting the environment and we who sail in it go to hell in a handcart. We older folks have seen their lies and shenanigans time after time. Children still have some hope and lack of experience.

unquietmind Fri 22-Nov-13 19:45:24

I think we are less optimistic because it's culturally accepted to be this pessimistic way and its in our idioms idiosyncrasies and anecdotes

mercibucket Fri 22-Nov-13 20:17:19

a lot of pessimism is just realism. so less education and knowledge means more optimism

I am far less eco than pre kids. I drive more and further, I dread to think how much plastic crap I have bought and broken then thrown away, I have had 3 kids (big sin in green terms) etc etc etc

HootyMcOwlface Sat 23-Nov-13 05:03:31

I think it can be a British thing to be a bit pessimistic?

I remember when I was young learning about recycling, global warming, saving the environment and it seemed like our efforts were a drop in the ocean compared to the big chimneys you see on industrial sites.. new cars and new homes being built, etc.. Kids are pretty astute about these things.

MadMonkeys Sat 23-Nov-13 09:18:14

I think we are less optimistic because the reality of life in the developed world is very unsustainable and deep down we know that. In the less developed places people can see how to live more sustainably with the economy making the throw away society we live in impossible.

gazzalw Sat 23-Nov-13 10:09:04

My take on this - which is possibly over-simplistic - is that we just know more about global issues than people in developing countries....

I hope I won't be shot down for saying it, but we possibly have a broader World view, as a nation, than many other countries including the USA!

NumptyNameChange Sat 23-Nov-13 10:33:22

we also live on a massively overcrowded island with very little space, massive congestion and pollution hotspots, overcrowded public transport and with constant planning permission being granted on remaining green spaces that have buffered us slightly for more building. cost of living is rocketing whilst wages in real terms have been dropping for decades.

it's not really pessimistic to notice reality. it's sanity.

NumptyNameChange Sat 23-Nov-13 10:35:00

oh and as i walk to school and work on a daily basis i have to look at gridlocked traffic on route with great big 4 wheel drives with one adult in them driving a short journey and parents who live a 5minute walk from school insisting on driving their children there in their fuel guzzlers. it's very in your face here i guess.

ataraxia Sat 23-Nov-13 17:20:36

The press and public at large is negative about green initiatives, including recycling, so perhaps we're just not optimistic about outcomes

gingercat12 Sun 24-Nov-13 10:53:14

I think being and looking optimistic is a bit frowned upon. As gazzalw we are also more aware of the issues, and our children's future does not look a barrel of laugh. They can look forward to never being able to afford a home and fight unwinnable wars over resources, while our generation is expected to work till we drop and expect no pension - according to the papers.

OPeaches Sun 24-Nov-13 11:09:12

I think, as a nation, we are incredibly pessimistic. It's a cultural thing so is a cycle hard to break.

That said, I do recycle everything where I can. Our council have provided us with four bins (so fugly!) - landfill, garden an food waste, plastic and metal, paper and cardboard - as well as a small food bun for indoors. It makes recycling so much easier, and I feel like I'm doing my wee bit towards a greener planet.

zimbamummy Sun 24-Nov-13 16:46:42

I have always tried to recycle and we have our own compost heap & veg patch. Both of my DS are very young at the moment so not really aware of the implications although they are starting to understand that wasting water (one of my major bugbears) is important. The name's probably a bit of a giveaway but I grew up in Africa and am often shocked by how blasé people are with this resource.

ScientificProgressGoesBoink Mon 25-Nov-13 00:21:29

We are more pessimistic because we have access to the technology that being relatively affluent brings, and therefore subject to the media reporting of the realities of life on a daily basis, and these days 24 hours a day.

I remember clearly being a teenager in the late 80's/early 90's when being green was cool and we thought we could save the rainforest/whale/panda etc...I also have norne witness since then to more rainforest destruction, global warming, ocean depletion, a huge rise in consumerism, an unfathomable rise in air travel and fashion for huger and huger cars that have only served to push the planet closer to the brink. Despite all our knowledge, and our power to change things, we seem hellbent on destroying the place we depend on for our existence. We realise what trouble we are in yet we choose to ignore it and continue...or even up the stakes against ourselves.

We personally are living very sustainably...i now if and when the shit hits the fan climate change wise we are going to be in a better position than most as we are slowly getting ourselves 'off the grid'. i see a lot of people distracted by the bread and games of modern trapping and i wonder where we went wrong as a soecies.

I'm NOT a doom merchant ( though i realise i sound like one) and I'm generally considered an optimist by most people. But this is such a stark and apparent truth to me that I'm buggered if I can understand why everyone can't see it.

DziezkoDisco Mon 25-Nov-13 10:30:39

You're asking why the UK is more pessimistic than other places in the world. I have a bit of a theory that might make sense.

Part of it is that we are in the top 10 % of richest countries, we competely and utterly take for granted basics such as clean usable water, access to amazing healthcare, free schooling, a benefits system, a house, a care system etc. they are by o means perfect but few people die from dysentry because they have to drink out of the same water that an open sewer runs into. No one, unless through neglect, dies in this country from malnutrition.

We dont have the same terrible worries as most of the world. People struggle with money here, but no where near on the scale as the majority of the world. Where they if you have no money your children die.

If you live in abject povety you need to be optimistic or you would just give up and you wouldnt live.

Also we used to be the richest country in the world lording over everyone, thinking we were superior, we lost that and have drop down in wealth and qualilty of life. We are well educated and can see how powerless we are to do anything against the huge coporations that are fucking up our world (hello unilever).

Cherryjellybean Mon 25-Nov-13 11:46:10

Having my daughter, has made us live more sustainably. We have moved within walking/ cycling distance of work. I have had more time to try grow more fruit and veg ( although lots has failed!) and we try buy local when we can. We recycle but There is so much more we should do.

I think some of the pessimism is down to being realistic like others have said and a cultural thing. We don't give enough praise for the things in the country that are great. Eg our water systems,

SolidGold Mon 25-Nov-13 14:59:18

On Monday we asked whether your children inspired you to live more sustainably?

Not really, I have lived abroad where they do a lot more for the environment, so I am used to being very careful and I always recycle everything I can, reuse what I can, sell or buy second hand if possible, freecycle things if I can't sell them. I don't litter or waste water or electricity.

So the additional question today is why do you think we are less optimistic in the UK?

I think the whole of the UK isn't very optimistic at the moment, we have too many problems to worry about, life is becoming increasingly hard financially and we are all trying to stay afloat and look after ourselves.

Add to that all the things we read about big companies polluting the seas etc and our little efforts to recycle and live carefully seem to not make a difference.

alice93 Mon 25-Nov-13 15:10:53

So far I don't have children, I'm expecting my first now, but I know that having children will inspire me to live more sustainably simply because of the creativity that comes along with it. From recycling things for art work to growing garden vegetables - I simply cannot wait until my baby is old enough and that I am no longer a student myself so I can have a garden to do this!
As a student of international politics, I do believe that there is not much to get countries to be more sustainable, so if our children can teach us how, or at least be our incentive, then I believe a greener world could be possible.

MyMillsBaby Mon 25-Nov-13 15:47:26

I certainly want to live longer now I'm a parent. I'm also very aware that my son watches what I do around the house, so am more conscious of how I recycle, throw out the rubbish (and so forth) as a result.

In regards to why we're less optimistic about green issues here in the UK... I think we have the power of advertising to thank for that. With media so much more readily accessible here in the UK, everyone has been exposed to a green message at least once in their lifetime.

janeyh31 Mon 25-Nov-13 22:25:05

We as a family try & recycle what we can & try & get my girls to understand why. The girls also learn a lot about the environment & bring green at school & have recently taken part in an initiative with edf energy to understand about energy sources etc

Meanderer Tue 26-Nov-13 11:51:27

probably because of daily exposure to media - TV, papers etc - we're more aware of what's happening globally. Also might be part of our collective personality though!

NettleTea Tue 26-Nov-13 12:56:55

DS always reminds me to recycle, to not waste and to remember plastic bags. both kids are keen on growing their own veg.
DS had cloth nappies, and we have just bought more for our friends newborn. Im known as the nappy lady at our local primary!!

FoofFighter Tue 26-Nov-13 21:05:27

Aside from all the usual things like recycling etc I cloth nappy/wipe admittedly more because of the financial savings, but eco-friendly does have a look in too ;) I find it horrific that the disposable nappies I wore as a child are still lurking around and will be when I have been dead over 100 years. If we keep doing this then there'll surely be no room left for humans and wildlife in the not too distant future. I don't want that world for my baby and my baby's babies.

I am actually optimistic that things will change though. (can't speak for DD she is 15wks old!)

kateandme Wed 27-Nov-13 03:12:28

we know what damage we have done.the kids now are having to make up for it with all these green projects.
i would say people in developing countries havenmt had the luxeriues we took for granted so have always had to work hard for there we rubbished our own world and are now paying the price ias things slowly get harder and more difficult.

MollyBerry Wed 27-Nov-13 18:12:13

children in general make me think about living more sustainably - the world is there for them and without taking action now it may be a grim life which I don't want.

Probably less optimistic because we're a bunch of cynical somethings (can't think fo the word). Also we've seen change over time how things have got worse and all th political arguing meaning that big policy change takes years to happen and grass roots stuff is not as effective as lots of people dont care/take note

tinypumpkin Wed 27-Nov-13 19:46:39

I do think that having children has made me more aware of environmental issues or at least more committed to doing my part with this. It's my children's future and their children's future etc. Somehow that makes it more real I suppose in terms of my responsibility. I am better with food waste, turning off appliances and recycling. It matters.

I am not sure why we are so pessimistic. Another op mentioned that as a nation we are pessimistic and I think that is too. I also think it is because the size of the problem can be so overwhelming. That makes it feel unmanageable I suppose. It's the little things that we all do that matter though.

Patchouli Wed 27-Nov-13 21:02:02

Guilt perhaps?

clubnail Thu 28-Nov-13 15:17:13

Unilever, still testing on animals. Awful company. Do I win?!

NumptyNameChange Thu 28-Nov-13 16:16:50

still selling skin bleach too i believe.

Snoozie101 Sun 01-Dec-13 22:37:35

I try to live an Eco friendly life within reason. However the "green" option doesn't always turn out to be the real deal.

I try to use products until they are worn out, rather than just because I fancy a change.

We are more pessimistic because we know that the small changes we make are just a drop in the ocean when the developing world is churning out so much pollution.

AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 02-Dec-13 10:22:12

Thanks for all the comments: GetKnitted wins the £100 Sainsbury's voucher. Well done.

GetKnitted Sun 16-Feb-14 23:08:59


I appreciate that you are now 'family friendly' but please would you kindly be friendly to my family and send us the £100 gift voucher as promised. 3 months is plenty of time to put something in the post.




AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 17-Feb-14 14:06:33

GetKnitted - a million apologies - I have chased them again for you

GetKnitted Mon 17-Feb-14 20:47:53

Thanks AnnMumsnet, I didn't mean to sound so entitled!! I will say a big thank you to everyone if it arrives smile

GetKnitted Fri 21-Feb-14 20:05:11

Hi Unilever,

Thanks ever so much for the voucher. We were really thrilled to have won and it will mean party treats for DS1's party are less of a worry.

Thank you!

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