Words by Beth 21 VIC
Thoughts of inevitable doom aren’t exactly what should appear in my head when I think of the future. Especially as a student teacher, who is training to be a role model and leader for future generations.
Emails titled “TIME TO PANIC” and “THE WORLD IS BURNING” began sinking me to a place deep in fear.
I started enduring panic attacks about waste and pollution, Australia’s recycling crisis, driving my car and not donating all of my savings to Greenpeace. The fate of the earth for generations to come suddenly dawned on me like the cherry on top of an anxiety sundae.
Where is the hope? Where is the positivity? What on this (dying) earth can I possibly do to make this better?
Taking action was not only going to give me piece of mind, but it would help me to eventually encourage sustainable thinking in my future students, encourage changes in my friends and family, and hopefully make a difference in my community. Being environmentally friendly is something all local businesses, creatives, and future generations can get behind.
Despite what you have heard or convinced yourself, ‘going green’ doesn’t have to include excessively large donations, giving up meat or completely clearing your home of plastics.
So, what can you do?
Connect with an organisation with similar thinking to you!
Since considering my own impact on the planet and researching ideas, I have joined two amazing charities.
– Founded in Canberra, ‘Lids4Kids’ partner with Victoria’s ‘Envision Hands’ to grind down collected plastic lids and create prosthetic arms and hands for amputee children, amongst other items that benefit Australian communities
– ‘Bread Tags for Wheelchairs’ pass on tags to local recyclers; turning them into cool reusable products and donate the profits to a wheelchair fund in South Africa.
Both charities have appeared in Australia in the last 12 months, and I LOVE them. They have brought thousands of passionate people together.
Connect with your community to create action
The primary kids I work with, staff and parents have all shown incredible enthusiasm in joining the cause. From family members to local cafes, I have been able to reach people and involve them in something that not only saves the environment from pieces of plastic that are too small to properly recycle, but also helps people who desperately need it. That is the most amazing feeling.
There are plenty of environmental actions groups available to join too, in your local council or suburb, or even online. It’s a great way to connect with like-minded people, educate yourself on current issues and hear about different events and ways to contribute to your local community; including clean-ups, meetings or strikes.
Set achievable personal goals
Substitute things you currently use with ones that can benefit the earth, your bank account and your life:
- Reusable items such as produce bags, travel mugs, silicon lids and food wraps will decrease the use of disposable plastics in your shopping trips and kitchen.
- Face cleanser, shampoo and soaps that come in bar form will lower the number of plastic bottles you dispose of, which aren’t currently getting recycled anyway!
- Make ethical choices about how you buy cleaning products and household goods. Brands like ‘Zero Co’ use carbon neutral delivery and refill their recycled packaging for you. Other brands such as ‘The Body Shop’ offer recycling programs with loyalty rewards for returning bottles.
- Don’t forget about metal straws, bamboo toothbrushes, recycled toilet paper, home-made deodorants, veggie gardens, composting, bulk-buying and donating rather than throwing away.
- Speaking of recycling; you can still properly dispose of soft plastics at your local Coles or Woolies and drop e-waste at specific zones around the country.
- Up-cycling is also a great way to engage kids and exercise creativity.
The eco possibilities are endless!
After making these small changes, I found I’ve started to think differently and consider even bigger solutions. My new long-term goals and hopes for the future are to get involved with permaculture, learn about regeneration and create waste-free, eco-friendly classrooms, schools and curriculum.
Whilst it’s important to make goals that inspire action, I think it’s equally important to realise it’s ok not to be perfect. I am not in control of the current recycling disaster, but I can reduce my waste and I shouldn’t feel guilty because I don’t have 5 years of waste in a mason jar. I can’t pay for solar panels, afford an electric car, and I’m not vegan… but there are still things I can do that can contribute and make me feel good in the process.
Illustration by Aileen, You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenetc