Sustainability - a couple of Nuances
Posted by Doug Walters on 26th January 2014
I'm from a generation that instinctively thinks that separating out the household waste for re-cycling is a pain; on other hand my head understands the need to act to preserve the planet for my grandchildren and their children to enjoy. However, 2 relatively minor incidents just recently illustrated a couple of aspects of sustainability that people seem to be neglecting.

Each day, I visit my local gym for (what I laughingly call) a work-out. The owners recently modified the shower system, installing buttons to limit the amount of water used; you press the button and get a spray for 15 seconds before the supply cuts off. You press again to repeat - yes, we've all used them, they're commonplace and a really good idea; they have probably prevented the waste of billions of litres of water a year, and I wholeheartedly applaud the initiative to install them. However, when the flow starts, it is cold, and it just starts to get to a nice temperature when the flow cuts out. When restarted it is cold. Suffering cold showers every day since Xmas is taking the whole thing too far and it was time I did something about it. I filled out a long feedback form, explaining the problem. Much to my surprise, the following day (and so far, every day subsequently) the temperature has been increased and the water flows at a constant and pleasant temperature. What this shows is that, while we need to act responsibly and think about sustainability, we have to balance that against the need to provide customer service and satisfaction

My second story relates to a visit to my local convenience store on a very wet and miserable morning, to buy my Sunday newspaper. To prevent my paper getting sodden as I walked back home, I asked for a plastic carrier bag. The sales assistant apologetically informed me that the small and flimsy bag she produced from under the counter would cost me 5p. I was astonished and a tad annoyed - she agreed with me that the profit margin in that transaction was ridiculous, and she was embarrassed to charge this fee. What this illustrates is something I have seen in countless businesses over the last few years - many simply see the sustainability issue as another way to increase profitability, rather than a bona fide contribution to preserve our legacy

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