During Earth Hour this Saturday, Australians are encouraged to flick the switch between 8.30-9.30pm to send a clear message to the government that they want action on climate change. Designed to shine a light on global warming, Earth Hour’s message for 2015 is “I’m using my power.”
In the spirit of Earth Hour, Melita Rowston (one of our fabulous writers from The Copy Collective) caught up with Conservation Change Catalyst Jennifer Croes who agrees individuals do have the power and if we individually make some changes to the way we live, collectively we can make a huge difference to climate change.
A catalyst for conservation
Freshly returned from an early morning snorkel exploring the marine life around her home in Byron Bay, Jennifer tells me that playing in nature was how she found her calling. Ten years ago she felt stuck in her corporate change management career. So she quit her job and did what most normal people do – she moved to the Amazon. There she volunteered at an animal rescue shelter where she helped rehabilitate Tequila, a wild baby puma who had lost her mother to wildlife poachers. Jennifer found that in the process of rehabilitating Tequila, Tequila rehabilitated her…
“Living and volunteering in Bolivia was a pivotal moment in my life,” says Jennifer. “It was my epiphany. I finally found my way! I discovered that being surrounded by animals is what made me happy. I also realised I was in a unique position because I could leverage my business experience to make a difference.”
Is this why you call yourself a Conservation Change Catalyst?
“Yes! I act as a conduit between conservation issues and people. I share information I know will mobilise people towards change.”
Jennifer feels that climate change isn’t an issue we can shy away from. Its impact is experienced daily. Whether that’s heatwaves, droughts, shifts in species’ migratory patterns, melting ice caps, rising sea levels – you name it – it’s staring us in the face. She believes Australians want to know more about what causes climate change, but the available information is confusing as climate change has become a political agenda item instead of a global conservation challenge.
[Tweet “”It would be a great day when conservation is not a political jousting fest, but a way of life.””]
So, what could the Australian government do if it really wanted to stop global warming?
“It’s a real shame that Australia is considered the poor cousin when it comes to conservation issues,” says Jennifer. “We have the expertise, knowledge and capability to be conservation leaders. We could start looking at renewable energy sources like wind turbines and tidal wave research. We could focus on land conversion for agriculture and the impact it’s having on our ecosystems and there’s the impact the expanding cane toad population is having on our native species… I could go on… It would be a great day when conservation is not a political jousting fest, but a way of life.”
In Jennifer’s TEDxUbud talk she shares her experience of exploring the ‘wildlife sinks’ of live animal markets in South East Asia. There, endangered wildlife is sold as food, pets or traditional medicine. She concludes that these markets wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for consumer demand. Jennifer says that consumers don’t realise how much power they have.
How can normal Aussies use their spending power to make big change?
1. Cross palm oil off your shopping list
“While we may not be buying ivory, rhino horns or tiger pelts, there are many unknown ingredients in the products we buy that we could be indirectly fueling a demand for. Palm oil is found in 40-50% of Australian household products. While palm oil in itself is not necessarily bad, the way it’s sourced is. Rainforests are felled at alarming rates fast tracking many species towards extinction and encouraging illegal wildlife trade, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. ”
Don’t know where to start? Don’t fret! R.A.N.G.A has put together a list of palm oil-free alternatives and Palm Oil Investigations provides regular updates on palm oil-free products and what you can do to help the cause.
2. Go meat free for a week
[Tweet “”I’m not advocating we become vegetarians but we don’t need to eat meat every day.””]
“Did you know that eating meat every day has a direct impact on climate change?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that individual dietary change can substantially lower emissions. Land continues to be converted into pastures where cows and sheep graze and produce methane. According to the Chatham House Report, the global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined! I’m not advocating we become vegetarians (I’m not one) but we don’t need to eat meat every day.”
Cooking vegetarian doesn’t have to be hard! Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche publishes easy – and delicious – vegetarian recipes than can be made in less than 30 minutes; and Chelsey Pippin at BuzzFeed provides 21 delicious alternatives to meat and how to use them. If you’re thinking about going vegetarian or vegan full-time, make sure you read Matt Frazier’s “Most Laid-Back Guide to Going Vegetarian You’ll Ever Read”.
3. Go outside in nature
“Tourists flock from all around the world to discover our natural heritage. Yet Australians don’t seem to see the magnificence within their own backyard. We’re suffering from ‘nature-deficit’ disorder. This causes a wide range of behavioural issues and illnesses because we don’t spend enough time outdoors.
If we put down our gadgets and played in nature more, we’d not only feel better, but we’d be more interested in protecting it. We are all custodians of this land. We’re responsible to future generations so they can experience all of nature’s wonders rather than read about its extinct on Wikipedia.”
Geocaching is a really fun and adventurous way to get outside – and you get to keep your phone with you! Get the Geocaching app and you can start treasure hunting straight away.
[Tweet “”there are 2,580,890 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide” via @GoGeocaching”]
The Nature Play Passport includes secret missions for kids to complete in their local community and the wider environment. It’s only in Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland for now but keep an eye out for future expansion. And yes – it’s a real, stampable passport!
For other easy and local ideas contact your local council and ask about community gardens, urban bushland, and local conservation groups. You can find your local council using the Australian Government Directory.
So this Earth Hour, why not use #YourPower to go beyond one single hour? You don’t have to be a campaigner like Jennifer to still be a catalyst for change.
The Copy Collective is a collective of Australian, New Zealand and other international copywriters whose versatile copywriting skills range from fundraising, marketing and online copywriting to corporate and government writing, feature and speech writing, as well as editing and so much more.