An ocean of problems or a puddle of possibility?

By Ben Holt, 15 June 2021
Image: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels


I choose the puddle and that’s how I stay sane in a world full of challenges. I’m hoping you might find this way of thinking helpful too.

Hearing about climate change, the extinction crisis or running out of natural resources is enough to overwhelm even the most stoic of characters, or at least make them stick their head in the sand.

I choose to look within my own sphere of influence to deal with environmental challenges and boy does it make a big difference. I am proud of what I do, even in the face of others not agreeing or perhaps more simply, not understanding. I try not to beat myself up too much when I’m not perfect, but I hook in where I can.

My daily puddle of possibility is made up of the following things:

  1. Being open to conversations about environmental challenges, and not shying away from sharing my thoughts, even if others don’t share my opinion.
  2. Chucking stuff in the organic tidy top bin at home. But I don’t beat myself up about putting a bit in the red bin when the tidy top bin is being cleaned out once a week.
  3. Trying to avoid food wastage. Buying appropriately sized perishable goods, so I do not end up with half a jar left when the use by date pops up (hint: don’t go overboard and eat things after the use-by date – as I recently learned with a tub of sauerkraut).
  4. My choice of vocation: I have chosen to be a teacher – whether working in a not-for-profit NGO or in a high school, I am working to make the world a better and more beautiful place.
  5. Use electricity at home that is provided by a renewable provider (check
  6. Eat vegetarian where practical.
  7. Tend to my veggie patch. This also has a second, more selfish aspect, of just watching my garden not only grow, but thrive. It’s also great knowing that I have used as much second hand, repaired and borrowed goods as I can to create and look after it. Try to avoid single use plastics at work. Just wash up when you’re done with it.
  8. Turn the computer off at the end of the day, instead of leaving it on standby.
  9. Recycling where I can.
  10. Try to have four minute (and under) showers where possible. I’m not great with this one, but if it happens half the time, it’s better than not doing it at all.
  11. I use products produced by ethical companies. I use the “Shop Ethical” app at the supermarket to help me buy from companies with environmentally friendly practices and I avoid brands with a bad track record.
  12. I try to deep water the lawn with a regular circular sprinkler for 30 mins, twice a week, rather than do a shorter watering session each day of the week. I think I have cut back on lawn water usage by 50% compared to last season with this method.

There is a whole plethora of options available for people to live environmentally friendly lives and these are just a few on offer.

However, the main point of this article is not to lay out a set of options for you, it is to perhaps put forward a way of thinking that can help you feel proud and proactive, as opposed to overwhelmed.

As Environmental Citizen of Wagga Wagga 2020, I can assure you it is not your job to single-handedly solve climate change or plastics in the ocean. Your job is to acknowledge your own feelings of discomfort about our planetary challenges and find out what works for you or your family as a response you feel comfortable with.

This will in turn encourage those around you to do the same.

Ben Holt is the Environmental Education/Promotions Officer at ErinEarth, a local community organisation that aims to demonstrate sustainable living to the local community in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga.

Reproduced with permission from ErinEarth and from the March 2021 edition of Together, the news publication of the Catholic Diocese of Wagga Wagga.


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