Everything I Needed to Know about Sustainability, I Learned from My Dad

June 18, 2015

Sustainability is complex, but the principles are simple. So simple, in fact, that most children understand and embrace the basics of sustainability more quickly than the adults in the room. Not unlike the students of today, Caterpillar’s Global Sustainable Development Director Tim Lindsey recently reflected that he too learned the fundamental lessons of sustainability in his childhood, through the coaching of his father.

“My dad was a contractor who did a lot of work for farmers and small businesses. He was always in high demand because of his reputation for ‘doing a job right.’ He taught me a great deal about how to work and how to work more sustainably. He believed that anything worth cutting down a tree for was worth doing right,” said Tim. “While my understanding of sustainability issues has grown more technical over the years, all I really needed to know was embedded in the lessons of my dad.”

Tim’s father’s sustainability guidance is simple, and is likely similar to the lessons many of our parents passed along:

  • Don't tear anything up!
  • Don't get anybody hurt!
  • Don't waste anything!
  • Don't make a mess!
  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
  • Measure twice, cut once!
  • Build it right the first time!
  • Shut down that machine if you're done with it!
  • Don't create a problem for the next guy or gal!
  • Gather the scrap and pull the nails for the next job!

Tim noted that his father’s directions need to end in an exclamation point, as he was often yelling at his son to make his point! With or without the exclamation point, these simple lessons can also be applied in your life.

Caterpillar’s Sustainability Principles are as simple as the lessons from Tim’s father:

  • Prevent Waste
  • Develop Better Systems
  • Improve Quality

Pretty clear, right?

Read more about our sustainability value and related behaviors in Our Values in Action.


Sustainable Development for Caterpillar means leveraging technology and innovation to increase efficiency and productivity with less impact on the environment and helping our customers do the same.

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Values in Action

Our Worldwide Code of Conduct, first published in 1974, defines what we stand for and believe in. In 2015, Caterpillar amended the Code to elevate Sustainability as a core Value.

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