Research Comment: What Can I Do?

29 Sep. 2022 5 min read

What Can I Do?

by Koala Life Research Manager, Dr Ian Hough

To badly change the quote from JRR Tolkien, “What can men do against such reckless hate?” Change men for you and hate for environmental degradation and you get the picture. It is so easy to feel powerless and overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of man’s degradation of our planet home. But does it need to be this way? Again, using Tolkien “But even now there is hope left”.

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. In environmental terms this is a call to arms, you can make a difference, you just have to start.

While Gandhi never actually said, be the change you wish to see in the world, his full quote amounts to the same sentiment. If you want a better, happier and nicer world, be better, happier and nicer yourself. Don’t wait for others to change or make the changes you see as necessary.

The Scottish conservationist Patrick Geddes coined the phrase, ‘think globally, act locally’ and this gives those of us feeling overwhelmed a mechanism to help us cope and to see a way forward.

So, what can we as individuals do locally that can hope to have an impact globally, in the face of such reckless environmental degradation? Make no mistake, to do nothing is a conscious decision to accept ever increasing environmental damage, the extinction of thousands of animals, plants and invertebrates, and eventually ourselves.

Options surround us, and while not everyone can do everything there are many simple things we can do.

  • Install a rainwater tank
  • Install solar panels and batteries
  • Double glaze windows and install insulation
  • Keep your use of pavers and concrete to a minimum to allow water to reach the subterranean aquifers.
  • Use water wise plantings in your gardens
  • Pick up rubbish when you see it, don’t litter
  • Adopt a park, beach, creek and keep it free of rubbish
  • Report dumped rubbish to Council to reduce fire risk
  • Walk or ride a bike instead of using a car when possible
  • Recycle as much as you can
  • Avoid excess packaging when possible
  • Become politically active, force politicians to act
  • Set an example for children
  • Plant a tree, or more
  • Keep backyards tidy to reduce fire risk
  • Keep roofs and gutters clear
  • Extinguish cigarette butts
  • Use power efficient appliances and light globes
  • Turn off lights and appliances when not in use, don’t use standby options
  • Simplify your lifestyle
  • Take shorter showers
  • Grow fruit and vegetables yourself