Planet Ark News

A Year For Positive Action

Date: 29-Jan-14
Author: Brad Gray

National Tree Day, Jubilee Park - Sydney 2012 © Jess McCallum

Australia has just emerged from the warmest year on record. Fires are burning around the country. And it looks like we are facing a future where events like this will become increasingly frequent and intense. In the face of these issues it can be easy to think things are too hard and to become disillusioned, to think ‘it's all too big, what can I do?'

But as an individual or a member of a household, workplace or community, you can take simple and effective actions that have positive and measurable impacts.

You can buy less, recycle more, choose better products, plant a tree, grow an edible garden, get the kids outside in nature so they learn to love it, drive a hybrid car, offset your carbon emissions, build or renovate with responsibly sourced wood and more; the options are endless. Every one of these individual actions has a positive impact on its own and when they are combined, their collective impact is multiplied.

A stark example of this multiplier effect occurred during the recent heatwaves in Victoria and South Australia. As the peak afternoon period hit on Thursday 16th January, residential solar panels contributed more than 9 per cent of South Australia's electricity demand and nearly 3 per cent of Victoria's demand. The individual decision of householders to put solar panels on their roofs resulted in a measurable reduction in pressure on state-wide power demand. And as more people add solar panels, the benefits will grow.

Acting on environmental concerns by installing solar panels, water tanks and energy saving light globes in the home is now widespread, and it's the workplace where there is scope for more people to take the lead. The Greek Orthodox Community of NSW Child Care Centre in Marrickville (Sydney) is one example of how the actions of a few people can have a big effect. In 2012, the Centre Director attended a quality improvement session that inspired her to take up a number of sustainability initiatives. By introducing recycling and compost bins and engaging staff and children, the centre reduced the amount of waste sent to landfill by 33,000 litres (or 137 bins) annually. Furthermore, the children (and staff) are learning habits that will last a lifetime. (See the full case study.) Has someone taken on this role at your workplace? If not, could you be that person?

When we think of the environment, we often think of the big picture - tropical rainforests, the Great Barrier Reef, climate change. Taking or supporting action on these issues is fundamental if we want to be able to address them. However, they can feel overwhelming, distant and far away. If you think about your environment in terms of your home, school, workplace and community, the range of positive actions you can take grows dramatically. As the world faces the big global issues, it's important to focus on what you can achieve locally, to stay positive and to get involved, because it's only though the actions of people like you that things will get better.

About Planet Ark

Planet Ark is an Australian not-for-profit organisation with a vision of a world where people live in balance with nature. Established in 1992, we are one of Australia's leading environmental behaviour change organisations with a focus on working collaboratively and positively.

We help people, governments and businesses reduce their impact on the environment in three key areas:

  • sustainable resource use;
  • low carbon lifestyles; and
  • connecting people with nature.

All of our campaigns promote simple, positive environmental actions - for everyone.

Whether you want to recycle better, get in contact with nature or lead a lower carbon lifestyle, you can get involved with us in a variety of ways;

  • National Recycling Week - The dedicated week bringing a national focus to the environmental benefits of recycling at home, school and work.
  • Make It Wood - Encouraging the increased use of responsibly sourced wood as a building material.

Brad Gray
Head of Campaigns, Planet Ark

  • Recycling Week
  • Business Recycling
  • recycling Near You
  • Make It Wood
  • Tree Day
  • Cartridges for Planet Ark