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Taya Gerstel
Putting rubbish in the bin: an action so simple, yet so few do. The step I am taking aims to motivate people to put their rubbish in the bin and encourage people to pick-up litter they may see on the ground around them. With the world's increasing consumerist behaviour, it is our collective responsibility to ensure correct disposal of the waste we are producing. Thus, my one step is to pick up rubbish if I see some on the ground, no matter where I am or what I am doing. Through completing this simple action, I hope to encourage others to join me in cleaning up our environment. It is astounding to see how much litter is spread across the land we occupy and how many people disregard it. If people removed the stigma of ‘not my rubbish not my responsibility’ it would drastically improve the overall cleanliness and health of our ecosystem. No positive action is ever achieved by a bystander. The best part about this is that the more people who do pick up rubbish, the less rubbish there will be to pick up. It builds resilience cities, fosters positive socio-ecological environments, and encourages humans to take ownership over their own actions.
Luyang Liu
I started meal prepping this year which required me to possess a lot of contains to store food for the whole week after each meal preparation. Meal prep not only improved my health significantly, it also saved me time and also helped the environment by reducing food wastage and also if you do it correct can also help the environment. However I quickly realised that purchasing spending extra money for food containers and boxes is not necessary because I have a number of glass and also bpa free plastic containers avalaible in my fridge. I soon started to clean these containers I gathered instead of buying new ones. This taught me that in order to be sustainable, buying things that are not necessary is pivotal and that everything you consume and buy that are not needed or are not necessities often which damage the environment in some way or the others (such as food delivery). My goal is to stick with meal prep and also reuse my food containers. I will also purchase meat products in a paper bag and also my veggies in paper bags too. I also aim to not waste any food by portion my food correctly. I established a system to achieve this by cooking my whole weeks or 5 days of meals in 2 hours of time each Monday.
Rashmi Dev
Do not buy or use anything processed or packaged. Support sustainable farming by buying groceries from sustainable farms. This helps avoid the use of chemicals in food growing, processing and packaging which ends up as waste in soil, water or air. Also, the process of processing and manufacturing consumes energy and emits gases that are harmful. I believe if each person can commit to sustainable eating which contributes largely to pollution and climate change, it will make a big difference.
Anas Mahmud
I have worked at a food and retail store for just about half a year, and throughout my time I have witnessed and seen food thrown out just because of it passing a time limit, even though it is still acceptable to eat. It is true that the managers have to take the responsibility of keeping all the food safe and healthy to consume as well as making sure that the customer is looked after with high-quality products. This however does not justify the amount of consumable nutritious foods thrown out, where all these are thrown away, where they could nourish families in need. This is sadly a common scenario where 207 kilograms of waste is generated per person per year to feed Melbourne, while 40% of Melbourne’s food waste comes from households, cafes and restaurants. Reducing food loss and waste is critical to creating a Zero Hunger world and reaching the world’s Sustainable Development Goals. Unable to negotiate with the manager to have some of the less perishing foods be sent to a local food bank, I thought of ways to take steps to change my behaviour with food. I now buy my groceries from the Dandenong market, a traditional market, that sells fresh produce straight from local farms or even other's gardens. I have made it a point to not buy groceries from commercial stores, as perfectly edible fresh produce is often turned away from supermarket shelves because it does not meet the optimal criteria for consumers, such as shape, size and colour. This helps me not only save money by buying these healthy foods in bulk, but with my initiative, I am also able to decrease the amount of energy used to transport these products from one facility to another, decrease the amount of food wasted by supermarkets for it not being optimal, and also helping out small local vendors and farmers by using their fresh produce. I also created a food vlog on Instagram, where I hope to share recipes and techniques on the benefits of eating local fresh produce and using them to the best of their potential. {Image: Intermarche Inglorious fruits and vegetables}
Monique Scalzo's picture
Monique Scalzo
In an attempt to disrupt the flow of carbon into the atmosphere, I will be disrupting the flow of my money to coal, oil and gas. Like many others, I have switched to a plant-based diet, carry a keep cup and drink bottle and get heated about environmental issues. However, neither my bank nor my super account aligns with my environmental values. The concept of divesting is simple. Without our money, banks cannot keep funding the companies that pollute for profit. I would like to put my money where my mouth is, as the money that you deposit in a bank may be financing projects that fuel the climate crisis. In the last five years since the signing of the Paris Agreement, 35 of the world's leading banks have invested more than US$2.7 trillion in fossil fuel investments and have made over $16.6 billion in profits. Moving my money away from fossil fuels is one of the most powerful and easiest actions that I can take to leave behind the unviable trend of coal. This one step of divestment is proof that small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. Finally, I would like to use my social media platforms, such as Instagram, to blog about environmental activism. I pledge to use my following to spend more time talking about climate change as there is far too little discussion around the issue in the public sphere. Ultimately, we know that a rapid transformation of our world is possible - evident in how fast corporations, communities and governments have acted throughout this pandemic. Notably, the recent 2021 Sustainable Development Report by the United Nations revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic is a setback for sustainable development everywhere. For the first time since the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, the global average SDG Index score for 2020 has decreased from the previous year. Now more than ever, we must take simple and powerful steps towards healing our one planet.
Ying Wai Chow
It is a worldwide fact that products made by plastic, including bottles, cutleries and straws will damage the environment as they are not able to resolve in the solid naturally. Also, during the process of production, a lot of toxic chemicals are released such as benzene, which will pollute the air and further increase the level of climate change. Most people know about it, but theyseldom care. They keep using plastic cutlery when they order take-away food, or even in restaurants just because it is convenient. Buying bottled water instead of bringing their own, again, just because it is convenient. Therefore, I would like to start by myself, start bringing my own mental cutlery and water when I eat outside. Say no to plastic cutlery when I order take-aways, and bring my own cup when buying coffee outside. I believe it is a good and simple way to build the habit of becoming green and sustainable.
Anisa Bashir Ali
I believe decreasing our energy consumption is an important step to address climate change. Clean energy is derived from sources that emit pollutants into the atmosphere. A decrease in air pollution is one of the many environmental and economic benefits of clean energy. Depending on the source of the energy, clean energy may be utilised for a number of purposes, ranging from power generation to water heating and more. My pledge consists of completing small changes in my everyday life to reduce my own energy consumption. Firstly, changing all the lightbulbs in my house to LED lightbulbs would decrease the energy use significantly as LED lights use 75% less energy than the traditional lights. They also last 35 times longer than traditional lights. Secondly, I would check all the windows or doors in my house an ensure they are weatherproof. Energy is lost within the gaps of windows and doors which contributes a major environmental cost of 70% of greenhouse gases that are attributed to the energy use of buildings. Lastly, I would do small actions such as turning of the heater and wearing a warm jacket, turning of appliances when not in use like light bulbs, toaster or the computer. Doing these three activities would be a way to change my lifestyle and save energy while inspiring the people around me to do the same.
Amar Kavar
Each year, an estimated 1/3 of all food produced, which is worth around $1 trillion – ends up rotting in the bins of consumers and retailers [1]. This is a tremendous waste of the Earth’s precious resources that we cannot afford, especially when considering that since 2016 we have been using more resources than what the planet can sustainably give us. Additionally, high levels of methane gas and CO2 are generated by food rotting in landfill, which are dangerous greenhouse gases that exacerbate the process of global warming [3]. In my life, inappropriate food disposal manifests very strongly at Monash University, where I am a student. I've seen first-hand a shocking amount of wasted food in landfill but also a large amount of food, used takeaway containers and cutlery contaminating recycling bins. My first step will be improving the circular economy of waste at Monash University. Inappropriate waste disposal is due to a few factors, one of which is called "wish cycling" [4]. People, in the hope of doing the right thing, throw everything that "might" be recyclable into the recycling bin. If everything is placed into the recycling bin, it can doom all the bin's contents to landfill, which is exactly the opposite of what was intended. “Wish cycling” is probably due to confusion around the many sorting rules when it comes to recycling and waste disposal. Sometimes one product's packing has to be separated a few different ways, e.g. soft outer plastic packaging is sorted into one bin and the hard plastic, that sometimes physically holds the crackers or fruit, goes into the standard recycling bin. Around half the 1470 people surveyed by Sustainability Victoria in July 2018 said they had placed an incorrect item in the recycling bin in the previous month [5]. A key lack of understanding of proper recycling underpins this problem so, to make Monash University's waste process more circular, my First Step will consist of the following: Step 1. Changing all food packaging in Monash restaurants to paper-based takeaway containers. Step 2. Introducing a third bin, which is a composting bin. This will be strictly for food that cannot be finished (scraps), but also for food-contaminated containers. Because they are paper based they can be thrown, along with the food scraps into this bin. Step 3. The contents of this bin will be composted, which can be used on Monash University's gardens or sent to farmers, depending on whether the composting can be performed onsite or at an offsite facility. This strategy exploits the key fact that people know which waste is organic and eliminates any need for sorting containers from food. Both the leftover food and paper-based container can go into the same bin, which simplifies the waste disposal process. Additionally, it also decreases the contamination of the recycling bin with NON-recyclable food products and containers, decreasing the chance of the whole bin's contents being doomed to landfill. The downstream positive effects of this strategy are the following: a. Less food is rotting in landfill, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. b. More food waste enters a circular economy, being recycled as compost to produce more food. c. There is less contamination of standard recycling which increases its chance of being recycled into new products. All three benefits involve improving Monash University’s circular economy of waste. Step 2 is comparable and inspired by the FOGO (Food Organics, Garden Organics) system, which is being rolled out by councils across Victoria, with much success. So this strategy is definitely effective and achievable for Monash University. A spokesperson said that the "average contamination of 2.2 per cent FOGO is compared to 10 per cent average contamination rate in kerbside recycling. The reason for this is simple, people know what organics is and what it isn’t. That is not true for kerbside container recycling. There are so many different arrangements, labels etc that people get confused with yellow top bin systems. FOGO on the other hand is simple and people seem to care” [6]. It is also feasible, Monash University is already developing a composting system, whereby food waste is sent to a commercial compost facility where it is turned into a “nutrient rich compost” [7]. So, implementing this strategy can be integrated with existing innovations and schemes at Monash University as opposed to starting entirely from scratch. This strategy can be developed during semester 2 2021, and implemented during semester 1 2022. If the strategy is successful during this semester it can become a permanent strategy, but it can also potentially be scaled up to different universities around Victoria. Finally, we can align this strategy with a specific economic target. Nationally we recycle 56 per cent of materials generated. The target that has been endorsed by the federal, state, territory governments and local councils for the year 2030 is 80% recycling of all materials generated. FOGO is already helping contribute to this target, we can align Monash University’s first 'green' step with this target too [8]. 1. UN Sustainable development goals, 12 ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-consumption-production/ 2. Alignment with goal 12: ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. 3. Alignment with goal 13: take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 4. https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/too-hard-basket-how-we-are-rubbishing-our-kerbside-recycling-20191122-p53d81.html 5. Sustainability Victoria 6. “From FOGO is driving real reform in Australia”, by Mike Ritchie published in insidewaste on Oct 29, 2020. https://www.insidewaste.com.au/index.php/2020/10/29/fogo-is-driving-real-reform-in-australia/ 7. https://www.monash.edu/campus-sustainability/get-involved/waste-recycling/food-waste 8. “From FOGO is driving real reform in Australia”, by Mike Ritchie published in insidewaste on Oct 29, 2020. https://www.insidewaste.com.au/index.php/2020/10/29/fogo-is-driving-real-reform-in-australia/
Celina Dhobbie
A 2018 report by the United Nations (UN) found that the shame, stigma, and misinformation surrounding periods could lead to severe health and human rights concerns. Resultantly, they declared menstrual hygiene an issue that affects public health, gender equality, and human rights. The report powerfully underlines how shame and misinformation undermine the wellbeing of women and girls, making them vulnerable to gender discrimination, child marriage, exclusion, violence, poverty and untreated health problems. To tackle this problem, I am drafting a proposal to negotiate the provision of sanitary items and anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen for female and unisex bathrooms on campus. I also commit to educate myself and those around me on menstruation by engaging in conversations, open dialogue and learning and volunteering for grassroots organisations focusing on education and alleviating period poverty.
Chi Ngo
Whenever I feel like losing a reason to fight for nature, I go out for a walk, leave my house and go watch the sunset. Doing so, I bring myself closer to nature and with my eyes, observe and appreciate the beauty of the world around me. This never fails to motivate me to continue taking action to protect the world I am living in and feel optimistic about the future. There will be always amazing things happening around the globe and the community I am a part of.
C Wolokh
My commitment to sustainability begins with my first and last metal straw. Over the entirety of my life, I've been a big user of plastic straws. From slurpees to smoothies, I would go through multiple plastic straws in the span of 1 week. The play on words step "the last straw" represents my resentment towards the overconsumption of plastic and goal of only using one metal straw for all my drinking needs. It’s estimated that as many as 70% of seabirds and 30% of turtles have ingested some type of plastic from the ocean. This alarming statistic alone has influenced me and I hope that through this one step, I can live a more sustainable life and reduce the impact our plastic disposables have on marine life.
Eryn Larcombe
I plan to transform my council owned nature strip into a functioning patch of biodiversity! Invasive or introduced grasses serves very little purpose to the environment and wider biodiversity, through lack of habitat, cooling ability and energy though required maintenance of cutting. By following my council guidelines and planting native and indigenous plants I will be able to increase biodiversity, help filtrate storm water, provide habitat and limit solar radiation just as a start. I hope to show other individuals the benefit of replanting, increasing positive interactions outdoors and create sustainable spaces for the wider community one plot at a time. The photo is Hardenbergia violacea. It's a great climbing plant or ground cover which flowers in the cooler months, providing a much needed food source for many animals and I personally think it cheers people up during the colder months in Australia.
Darcy Neate
I would like to change to at least a plant based diet. I love food so much and meat is a big part of this, but I understand the negative impact that the livestock industry is having on the planet so I would like to make a change to do something about it. At least 4 days a week I would like to be meat free by the end of the year. This is hard since I live with my family so I will have to try and work with them on it but I am sure that they will support me in this. I love to cook so trying new recipes will be fun!
Darcy Neate
A pretty simple one. I just want to reduce the amount of finite materials I consume in my day to day life. I make sure to do the basic ones like always carrying my water bottle around, I use a keep cup and I have a bamboo cutlery set that I carry around so I don't have to use single use plastic ones when I buy food at uni or the shops. As well as this I make sure to only get online versions of my textbooks. I am trying more and more to sell or donate things that I no longer need or use rather than just letting them collect dust, this way maybe someone else can use it rather than buying something new. I also just started working at a homeware salvage warehouse where we salvage materials and furniture from houses that are being demolished to give them new homes to reduce the amount of waste. I hope to get to a point where I don't need any single use plastic other than maybe food packaging in my day to day life but this is something I will have to work on over a while as it requires research and lifestyle changes to be able to make such a dramatic change.