Editorial: Looking for a simpler way

In researching for this edition’s feature article, I recently took a quiz to find out my ecological footprint (find out more at www.wwf.org.au). It turns out that if everyone  on earth consumed as much as I do, we would need three planet Earths to sustain us. THREE! That must be about the average, because the same is said for Australia as a whole.

Interestingly though, I took the test for a second time, this time ticking all the right boxes while still living in Australia. I pretended I was a vegan, didn’t drive, lived in a ‘green’ house  and hardly ever bought new gadgets or fashion. With all this, it would still take 1.5 planets to sustain that lifestyle if everyone on the planet lived in the same way. We would still kill  the planet.

So I’m left wondering: would our best, as individuals living in Australia, still be enough? Can this only be tackled on an individual basis? The numbers suggest no. I guess we could  take ourselves off the grid altogether, but unless there is an obtainable solution we aren’t going to make progress on this.

One of the options to consider in tackling the issue, as raised  in our feature article, is to buy less stuff – which is always a good idea for so many reasons. But we also need to consider the role of our nation’s leaders in the way Australia is  performing in this area. Are we doing enough in this country to tackle climate change? Are we utilising opportunities for sustainable energy sources? I’m not an expert on this, but  the figures above suggest that we’re not. And thousands of people would agree, as seen at recent climate rallies held all over the country.

While we wait for our leaders to listen to the people, we can try to be a better example of living a simpler life. If everyone cut down, it would make a difference. This Christmas, I’m  making a decision to try to cut back on ‘stuff’ where I can – starting with my immediate family. I don’t think my house can handle any more stuff anyway. But also, I would rather spend  time with my family than watch them put more toys on the shelf. I’m looking into buying ‘experience’ gifts instead – a day out or tickets to a show. It’s a small start, but I’m hoping that eventually I’ll get better at bringing our lifestyle back down to Earth.

I hope you also find ways to enjoy a simpler Christmas.

Heather Dowling

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