Ask us oldies for answers

July 24, 2008

I fell about laughing to read that a research grant of £123,000 will be used to help older people keep warm in winter with less fuel, reduce their carbon footprint and help them to lead "sustainable" lifestyles ("Campus round-up", 17 July).

Surely it should be the other way round? All our lives, we oldies have done the three things about which we are to be engaged by the University of Greenwich. We are familiar with sustainable lifestyles from daily experience during six to nine decades. Elderly people in rural areas in particular, where services were and are erratic or non-existent, are amazingly resourceful in sustaining themselves.

We were born and lived through stringent times before, during and after the Second World War, when there was no option. Waste is felt by us to be unethical even in times of plenty, using money or materials unnecessarily was and is anathema to us, and habits instilled by necessity are difficult to change.

I suggest that an equivalent amount of research money be granted to a group of "older people" to collect, collate and disseminate their combined wisdoms and experiences on how to lead a sustainable lifestyle, including how to keep warm on less fuel and reduce carbon footprints. The research could include an oral history project in which a wide spectrum of rural "older people" are approached to provide an even bigger pool of knowledge and practical experience from their own lives.

Ruth Tittensor (age 63), Countryside Management Consultancy, Darvel, Ayrshire.

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