Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 3 December 2020 2020) . . Page.. 149 ..
Climate activism is a global phenomenon; and Canberra is no exception. We have 350, XR, Knitting Nanas, the Artivists, Stop Adani and many, many more. I have helped out where I can. I have seen arresting art and actual arrests, giant banners and bigger boycotts, and grannies that shut down banks by sitting quietly outside with their knitting. Then there are the school strikers; I have marched with my daughter alongside thousands of children, and I have listened to them beg for their lives. Like any grown-up with a beating heart, I find this part of the movement incredibly painful.
The kids put it best in their own words. Here are a few of their slogans: “Why go to school if you don’t listen to the educated?” “If you act like children, we’ll act like adults.” “I have seen smarter cabinets at IKEA.” “You will die of old age; we will die of climate change.” Our children will die of climate change. All we have to do to make that happen is nothing. “Why aren’t those kids in charge?” I thought. “I cannot wait to see what happens when they are.” But we do not have time to wait and it is not their job to fix this; it is ours.
Despite my fears for the future, I am a positive person at the core. As well as learning how to say no, I have learned how to say yes. I began my postgraduate education with Pedal Power. I started out as a bureaucrat who liked bikes. After eight years I transformed into a lycra-clad street warrior. It was a joyous adventure. Cycling is the most delightful treatment for whatever ails you. Climate change, congestion, obesity, poor mental health—it does not matter what your problem is, cycling is your solution if you are lucky enough to be able to ride.
I wanted to learn more about environmental management; so I took a job in waste. I then partnered up with a colleague on a recycling venture. National recycling expert Graham Mannall came up with the neat idea to tackle a problem waste stream. We threw it together, patented it and launched Send and Shred. I learned business, e-commerce and the white-knuckle hope of the start-up.
I had the great privilege of working with the talented team at the Green Shed. Sandie, Charlie, Elaine and Tiny have been rolling out local solutions to the world’s big problems for years. Between them, they have built dozens of successful businesses, saved over 70,000 tonnes from landfill, donated over $1 million to charity and supported a rich ecosystem of artists, entrepreneurs and traders. They have been personally applauded and nationally lauded. They have even had an effigy in cake. Tiny has a simple life motto that drives him through his philanthropy: if you can, you should. It is a powerful motto. A little rubbed off on me.
While I was running Send and Shred, I decided to set up a new venture to tackle climate change. “Something small and manageable,” I thought. “How about cutting 75 per cent from my carbon footprint?” I learned carbon accounting and web development and I set up the Carbon Diet. I slashed my footprint and that of the average Australian through a series of one-week experiments: fly less, swap steak for chicken and snowboarding for surfing, turn down the heater, try out an EV.
Our federal government makes so much fuss about tiny cuts; so I assumed my ambitious target would be a spectacular failure. I finished the project earlier this year.