Over the decade, we have seen so much growth in terms of how society has progressed forward. However, we are yet to achieve a socially just, accessible and inclusive community where all people with disability are recognised, respected and celebrated. We are still far behind in ensuring equal access for all people with disabilities in our everyday life. To ensure an inclusive community, I pledge to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities (PWD) through my social media account. I want to address issues like discrimination and marginalisation to which people with disability are often subject to in our community. I hope to cultivate discussions and create awareness, so we are able to design a community that is inclusive of all regardless of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.
Start using non - disposable containers, bags, straws, table wares, chopsticks.
All the extra time to myself during Melbourne’s lockdown served as the perfect opportunity for me to explore my surroundings and reflect on my habits. I’m blessed to live not too far from the coast and thus the beach became a haven of sorts for me to escape the confinements of home and enjoy the vastness of the shoreline (during my daily assigned hour of time outdoors). Sitting by the sea however, was oftentimes more confronting than it was relaxing. Although it saddened me to see the amount of rubbish pilled up and littered across the sand, I decided that disappointment alone was futile and I had to take action to improve the situation instead of absolving myself of personal responsibility. Ever since the start of lockdown, I have taken a bag with me every time I visit the beach and spend the last 10 minutes before leaving to pick up any rubbish on the sand that I had passed on my way there. Some days the bag is full and other days there is much less, however the bag never comes back home empty. To me, this serves as a reminder of the responsibility I have to my environment, regardless of whether or not I caused the litter. If I’m able to enjoy the beach without any personal cost, then taking a few moments to clear up my surroundings serves as a ‘thank you’ to the environment for my enjoyment and time spent appreciating the atmosphere. Always packing what I consider a to be a ‘thank you’ bag has been my One Step pledge that I plan to take beyond the beach and adopt in other environments, including future time spent on campus.
While thinking about what my ‘one step’ could be, I started to think about my over-reliance on paper products. The entire process of paper creation is quite damaging to the environment. It is initiated by the cutting of trees, usually without considering the sustainability of such actions. This contributes to deforestation, destroying the natural habitat of many species of animals. Then, the actual production of paper releases many pollutants into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide. The obvious answer to me was to turn to recycled products, but I’ve come to learn that the process of recycling paper still releases many pollutants into the atmosphere. As a result, I’ve come up with three actions to eliminate my paper use entirely, substituting them with something else. For instance, I have decided to start taking my notes on scrap pieces of paper, which would otherwise have been thrown away. Another action is to use a thermos to drink my coffee in lieu of the paper cups used in most coffee shops, which cannot even be recycles in most cases. Additionally, my third action is to carry a handkerchief, as I find myself using paper towels quite a lot throughout my daily life. These three actions are just the start of my personal goal to eliminate my paper usage as much as possible!
I believe our sustainable planning varies according to the location and demographics. For instance, renewable resources preferred in Western Australia is Solar, but the suitable sustainable way of generating and sourcing energy in Tasmania is Hydroelectric power. So, according to our inputs, we model and build our sustainable environments. Victoria, proudly known as the Educational State of Australia, hosts around 490K students, including domestic and 40% international students. The universities are spread across various suburbs of the Melbourne Metropolitan area covering all four directions except few campuses within the CBD region. Naturally, around 400k students are based in the University suburbs. The average demographic age in these suburbs is 23 years old. The average distance between 2 Universities is about 11kms, which makes the Suburbs more educated and diverse, which gives us enough space and resources to facilitate precise waste treatment individually. We throw the waste into respective allocated bins and think we are helping the recycling process. But four bins given by the local council does not solve all the problem. Further, every six months, new students move in, and many students move within the suburbs. As an international student, I have observed that we tend to shop the immediate requirements such as new laundry baskets, containers for the kitchen, heaters, etc., without thinking twice when we move in. The average study duration for students is estimated to be two years. Whenever we carry out or change the place, the suburban streets are left with much-unwanted plastic and other wastes because students think the products are cheap and long-distance movement of these small home products is a burden. Embodied energy and CO2 footprint of these small products in the manufacturing and recycling phase are ten times higher than the transportation and use phase. After careful observation and analysis, I have taken one step of not hurrying about shopping for a new home and reducing possible waste thrown out when I leave. Instead, I have taken the initiative of buying only food essentials in the initial 45-50 days, such as a recyclable bag, collecting cardboard from online orders. Once I complete my 45 days stay in Victoria, I accumulate a pasta jar, ice cream box, and so on to replace buying new things. My next step is to highlight this blind waste to fellow Victorian students by sharing our Victoria home tips during Orientation and University activities as essentials. My following action is to create a universal hub for all Victorian Uni students to plan separation of waste into even more specific categories, such as submitting weekly soft plastics to nearby Coles or Woolworths situated in 2.5kms radius of each suburb. Followed by promoting water-saving Faucets in kitchen stinks, bathroom tap, and gardens around the house and campuses, collecting electronic waste from the respective suburbs, and reallocating between University and local council for the University research training for both students and researchers and finally composting. As most of the suburbs facilitate a share house experience for most students, I have planned to compost our regular food and green waste to grow desired plants. Forming Victorian students hub during our stay will surely influence the Victorian environment.
My One Step pledge is to adopt impact investing so that my investment approach is done through an ESG/SDG lens. Initially, when I began my investment journey, I invested with only aspirations of maximising monetary gains, setting aside or placing less emphasis on, the social and environmental impacts offrom the business operations. Whilst financial gain is still a key objective of my portfolio actions, it is now imperative to me that I invest in companies which value transparency and have transition plans that are aligned with the SDGs. I do this because I recognise the importance and influence that multinational cooperation’s play in this fight against social injustice and climate change. If we continue to financially support the types of businesses who are not adopting ESG principles and are not aligned to the SDG’s, it only reinforces harmful behaviour which further exacerbates our deteriorating global situation. The investments I make now and into the future will be for positive environmental, social and climate impact enabling me to participate in transitioning to a sustainable future.
Today we live in a world where consumption has peaked all previous estimates. We consume more than we need. All these consumption lays excessive stress on the global infrastructure needed for managing the production of these consumables. Further, ineffective life cycle management means that more 90% of these consumables end up in landfills. We consume because we are bored. We consume because we feel entitled. But also, we consume because it is convenient. We need to act now. The one-step that I am going to take is a simple one. I am going to take a moment to plan. Before I start my day, or before I step out, I am going take a moment to consider how can I make my day more sustainable today. I am going out with my friends today, Is it likely that I’ll grab some takeaway coffee? How about I take a coffee mug? I am going shopping today, but what do I need? Do I have a shopping bag? Do I need these many groceries for this week? The path towards unsustainability starts the moment we decide to buy something. Let us be conservative in our consumption.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the increased usage of disposable goods; cutlery; straws and especially, masks. Whilst an essential aspect to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it has detrimental impacts upon the environment. It has implications on the future of medical PPE. How can be we become more environmentally sustainable in a world that is heavily reliable on disposable PPE? An optimal solution is one that can be disposed of without environmental damage and does not compromise the quality of medical PPE. Thus, my commitment is to advocate for sustainable options around Monash University, specifically biodegradable or reusable materials. My 3 actions are: 1. Promote- engage with people in the community through social media on the importance of resuseable utensils 2. Campaign- advocate the idea of biodegradable PPE with organisations, including the university. 3. Model- act as a role model through taking responsible actions. This includes using sustainable utensils and encouraging other to do the same.
I have been trying to incorporate a vegan-friendly meal plan for 3 months. I have been avoiding red meats and dairy products in my diet. I am also trying to incorporate a well - balanced meal plan. I would like to reduce the consumption of meats in total and also try to produce my own veggies. I have been growing some coriander, parsley, silverbeet, thyme and lettuce in my garden. I would like to stick to a sustainably sourced meal plan also create awareness in others. I am also planning to launch an Instagram page where I would promote my knowledge of veganism with talks and real-life inspired stories from dietary vegan following individuals.
Until recently I was unaware that soft plastics could be recycled by simply taking them and depositing them at many supermarkets. I had only recalled from primary school that these things couldn't be recycled in the recycling bin. To reduce the waste of these plastics going to land fill, I will be collecting these bags after reusing them and taking them to the recycling bins at supermarkets. I will also be using reusable containers rather than glad wrap coverings to reduce the consumption of plastic as well. I aim to be recycling all the soft plastic waste weekly and encouraging my family members to do the same.
Having recently become aware of the amount of unnecessary plastic waste that I am inevitably contributing to the environment - primarily though purchasing food and other items which come with plastic packaging, I aim to reduce this significantly through finding environmentally-friendly alternatives to single-use plastic products. I currently use re-usable cloth bags for groceries, avoid using plastic straws and have a re-usable drink bottle; however, I know that there are many more steps that I can take to reducing my daily plastic consumption, and with some research and perseverance, I am confident that I will be able to make a tremendous reduction in the amount of plastic I currently dispose of after a single use.
When we eat, there is always some food that will be wasted because here we live in an advanced country where finding food is not a problem. However, if I limit my food to a specific amount that is enough for me and save the eating outside money for 3 months, I can rise enough money to support a family for a month in Niger. p.s.: picture reference: https://www.voanews.com/africa/could-big-data-help-end-hunger-africa
Milly Copping James
In today's world, more and more of us are regularly turning to cheap, readily-available fast fashion, myself included. This is an industry which not only does immense harm to the planet, but also perpetuates global inequalities through sweat-shop like conditions and extremely low pay, deepening the divide between the global north and south, and between rich and poor. My one step is to stop giving in to fast fashion and instead focus on exclusively buying sustainable or second-hand clothing which has a transparent supply chain - or even simply not buying at all. This is also a part of a broader problem within our society; the consumer mindset which pushes us to constantly buy, upgrade and discard without thinking. I would therefore like this first step of stopping fast fashion to be part of a bigger personal movement towards being a more conscious consumer in general. I think that this movement could also successfully be implemented at university, as it is an issue which many students feel guilty about but also feel powerless to do anything substantial about. This is a problem which encompasses so many disciplines - from environmental science, to global studies, psychology and business just to name a few. As a university wide, interdisciplinary initiative, we have a real chance at meaningfully tackling the issue of fast fashion in Melbourne.