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“We as consumers have lost sight of its cost to the planet.”

© DW/M. Magunia

© DW/M. Magunia

Scilla Elworthy Ph.D., Councillor of the World Future Council and founder of the Oxford Research Group and Peace Direct, was the one of the first women to publish a report on female genital mutilation that led to the World Health Organization campaign to eradicate the practice. Three-time nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, she recently published her latest book “Pioneering the Possible – Awakened Leadership for a World that works” and is certain that a different future for all of humanity is possible, if humans wake up.

Roma Rajpal Weiß from DW-Women Talk Online talked to Elworthy, a keynote speaker at the Global Media Forum 2015, about the urgent need to create awareness about the cost of our consumerism on the planet.  How is our consumption posing a challenge to our planet?

Scilla Elworthy: At the moment the way that consumption is working is that people don’t appreciate when they want to buy something new that it comes with a very severe cost to the planet. I think it is something extraordinary that 90 percent of raw materials used in the manufacturing process become waste before the product even leaves the factory. So this is really suicidal for the planet that we are wasting all these resources and making things that people don’t even keep because 80 percent of the products are thrown away within the first 6 months of purchase. And you think of this particularly with plastic toys that children don’t even care about anymore. So, we have got ourselves in a situation where we have lost sight of the cost to the planet of what we consume.


DW: What needs to be done so we put a break to this consumerist culture that has engulfed us and that media is in a way encouraging?

One thing that women can do is teach their children that they don’t need to have every fashion and fad, that it is probably valuable to get your nourishment and sense of self from being in nature, from being good at sports or playing with animals, all the things that have traditionally nourished human beings, growing vegetable for example, you don’t need to go shopping all the time. Mothers can have a really big influence on the choices that their families make, especially in the supermarket by saying ‘No, we don’t need that’. We are not going to spend our money on that instead we will spend it on going to the Zoo or going horse-riding, or whatever we can afford, but not buying more plastic trash.


© DW/M. Magunia

Scilla Elworthy Ph. D. © DW/M. Magunia

DW: How can women help slowdown the process of climate change?

The first step that women can take is find out more about their energy consumption choices, for example, in many parts of Africa instead of kerosene lamps and stoves people are changing to solar. So, it is now possible to get a solar light that you can take with you, it won’t get stolen because you can attach it to your hand and you can charge it during the day, at night you can study with it without needing a torch that would need battery or a kerosene lamp. Likewise, the technology for certain stoves is moving ahead very fast. So, if you are member of a women’s organization, you can do a lot, say, by helping people in your community make informed choices about the way we choose to travel, whether we use public transport or use a private vehicle, very big choice for the whole environment. We have set a very bad example in the West by making everybody think that each person has to have a motorcar. It’s ridiculous, especially now that so many more public transport vehicles are driven by hydrogen or solar. Particularly in Asia, it is stunning to me that there isn’t more use of the sun.

I feel that particularly the younger generation have so much brilliant access to information and facts and they can spread it. This kind of information is so easy for them to spread on social media. I think women have a particular role in that. It strikes me in our organization Rising Women, Rising World that women are particularly more alert what is happening to our planet.

Interview: Roma Rajpal Weiß

Editor: Marjory Linardy



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24.07.2015 | 14:22