How to be wealthy and keep sustainable

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending” C. S. Lewis

What does it take to keep your monetary wealth sustainable over the years? What does it take to create your monetary wealth in a sustainable way as a contribution to the environment and a small ecological footprint.

First, if we take the definition of sustainable it is something that is ‘able to be maintained at a certain rate or level over the years’ and ‘something that is able to be upheld or defended’. (Wikipedia).

gold bars

Sustaining monetary wealth

The saying “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves” reflects the statistical evidence to suggest that ninety percent of people who make a lot of money, will then lose it by the third generation and find themselves in the same financial situation that they started (Defreitas and Minsky 2014). Most rich people are interested in sustaining their wealth so why does this phenomenon occur?

To start with it is a negative connotation, as it asserts that the cause of family fortunes dissipating over generations lies with the heirs. This implies the “second and third generations of a family are lazy and unmotivated and use up the fruits of their elders’ hard work”(Jaffe 2019).  Moreover, Jaffe continues with the notion that many older adults are worried that they will ‘spoil’ their children and they then set conditions that feeds this lack of trust (2019).

However, despite paternalistic tendencies, meaning the desire to take care of those who are not able to take care of themselves, there are many inheritors who would like to contribute to the family’s legacy by creating wealth and using it wisely.

Be rich and sustainable

In this case, many of the new generation are energetic and hold contemporary values for the future. In addition, to expand the family’s business they endeavour to make it a socially and environmentally responsible business. It is an investment for the future and takes into consideration the notion of community service.

Also, Jaffe pointed out that the entrepreneurship “gene” often resurfaces in the third generation (G3). Hence, families whose wealth successfully crosses generations are those that focus on the upcoming generation’s positive aspects, such as values-orientation, a desire to make a difference, and teamwork.

Especially younger family members as the next generation are digitally and globally educated and help enable families to adapt to new realities, innovate their business, develop human capital in the succeeding generation, and offer leadership and funding to improve the community (Jaffe 2019).


According to wikipedia sustainability is the ability to ‘exist constantly’. In the 21st century, it refers generally to the capacity for the biosphere and human civilisation to coexist.  As many of us are well aware, we are living in the age named Anthropocene, meaning ‘anthropos’ (human) and cene (era). Hence, the epoch in which humans impact themselves upon the environment. Some people argue this began the minute human beings existed and commenced to alter their surroundings for their benefit, others say it began with the Industrial revolution in the 1900’s.

It doesn’t matter how or when the age of the Anthropocene began but the impact of thousands of years of human habitation on planet earth is taking its toll and the time to act is now. Some say if we do not act now it will be too late. But, I believe in human innovation, if we cannot fix it we will at least find a way to live with nature and be more forgiving. There is one thing for sure, we cannot continue the levels of consumption we live with today and everybody needs to change for the quality of life and health of future generations.

Sustainability and the future

At the moment I am questioning, how can we have continuous development in the world, keep wealth sustainable from generation to generation and live a comfortable lifestyle that is sustainable on the environment? Possibly, if we take sustainable development as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs. This is a good intention but how can we all live a comfortable life without compromising the future?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

The UN website states an intention to get everyone out of poverty by 2030. This is an honourable goal and as this is just over 10 years away, is it achievable? What does this mean or look like? It is a valuable goal to lift everyone onto a level where they have basic human needs, such as stated by Maslow such as clean water, air, food, shelter, sleep, clothing and reproduction. Maslow has a hierarchy of needs and they are all important, as seen in the diagram.

Considering this, if everyone is to live a life out of poverty does this mean people have to increase their manufacturing and production? Which in turn could affect the environment for future generations? Maybe if large developed or developing countries could cut their consumption of unnecessary goods and stop gobbling up natural resources, the world would have a chance? Especially the consumption of water, which is particularly immense in industry where a surprising user of water is electricity. For instance,  the USA drew 541 billion litres of water per a day in 2005 to sustain its electrical needs (Seametrics 2019).

Our future depends on water 

“Once you carry your own water you will learn the value of every drop”

This is a humongous topic and I am only briefly stating a few facts and could continue this topic on another post.

The Seametrics website states by 2020 about 30-40% of the world will have water scarcity and climate change can make this worse. This post was written in 2014 and it is now the end of 2019 so we are almost here. The main source of water usage stated is electricity and we need to vastly improve our use of green energy such as water power and wind power. The world leaders are slow to pay attention to facts and are mostly concerned with whether or not they will win their next election.

Fairtrade goals for wealth and sustainability

However, the Fairtrade website sums up some utopian notions of sustainable development. This is to improve the economic position of people in a way that doesn’t deplete finite environmental resources. It is a way to work for a better future, without compromising the planet for forthcoming generations. As the global economy faces the threat of climate change and environmental damage, it has consolidated together to promote sustainable development as a way to reduce our negative impact on the planet. (Fairtrade Australian and New Zealand 2091).

The Millennium goals of the UN and Fairtrade amongst others were to end poverty and raise levels of living standards and health by 2015. That date has passed and Fair Trade claimed these goals did lift a billion people out of poverty. New goal dates are 2035 and the Sustainable development goals (SDGs) include a focus on climate change and encouraging environmental protections and sustainable consumption, but also at the heart of the undertaking is a commitment to equality and economic freedom. Because without protecting the planet, we can’t protect people. (Fairtrade 2019).

Gross Domestic Product to Gross Domestic Happiness as a means of measuring success

In 2012 the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigme Y Thinley convened a milestone meeting of well being, happiness and sustainability where he called on governments to promote policies focusing on these topics. At the same time, the idea was to try and move leaders away from limited definitions of economic growth that is measured solely by the expansion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). At this conference Professor Joseph Stiglitz argued it was time to move on from using a countries GDP as a dominant marker of their economic success and introduce a more integrated set of ecological, social and economic goals and measures. Including measuring the Gross National Happiness (GNH) as an identification of the health of a nation (Wiseman 2012).

Nonetheless, Thinley was voted out of government in 2013 but came out of a reclusive lifestyle to attend a meeting on Gross National Happiness (GNH) in Western Australia in 2017 (Bhutan News Network 2017).

Fairtrade chocolate

How can you help?

Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand claim you can protest with your purchasing power. They say they have thousands of products and it does make a difference, in particular when you buy coffee, tea and chocolate.

There are still problems but on the whole Fairtrade helps smallholder farmers enjoy higher and more stable incomes. Also, this has seen the birth of interesting financial institutions such as Shared Interest, Oikocredit and Cordiad (Doherty 2017).

Keep wealthy and sustainable

“Knowledge is the key to success”

Therefore, although this article has only touched on this enormous topic, you can both keep your wealth sustainable over the years and also make sure it is sustainable wealth you are investing in.

Keep informed and up with the times is important, as knowledge is the key to everything.

If you find anything interesting or would like to add your comments please feel free and have your say below,

All comments are welcome.

Thank you,


Reference List

Bhutan News Network (2017) ‘Thinley makes first public appearance after four years’ Bhutan News Network

Commins P (2018) ‘How to make money the sustainable way’  Markets, Financial Review 

Defreitas and Minsky (2014) ‘How to achieve wealth sustainability’ Defreitas and Minsky Certified public accountants,

Doherty B (2017) ‘Does buying Fairtrade actually help farmers?’ Food, SBS

Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand (2019) ‘Fairtrade and the UN’s sustainable development goals’ Fairtrade

Fairtrade (2019) ‘Fairtrade and the UN’s sustainable development goals’ Home, Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand

Jaffe D (2019) ‘The ‘shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves’ curse: How family wealth can survive it” Leadership strategy, Forbes

Seametrics (2019) ‘5 major consumers of water that might surprise you’ Seametrics

Tilley F and Young W (2009) ‘Sustainability entrepreneurs: Could they be the true wealth generators of the future?’  Greener Management International  Vol 55  pp 79-92

Wiseman J (2012) ‘Wellbeing, happiness and sustainability; hallmarks of a new economic paradigm’, Business and Economy, The Conversation

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