Katherine Higgins from Melbourne is one of our wonderful volunteers. She recently took action as the not-so-wonderful ‘rainforest destroyer’ Barbie. Here Katherine talks about her motivations for volunteering with Greenpeace’s environmental campaigns.
How long have you volunteered with Greenpeace?
I’ve been volunteering with Greenpeace in Melbourne for 5 months. Last year, I lived in the Netherlands for 6 months so I took up the opportunity to volunteer with Greenpeace’s international office.
What do you do as a volunteer with Greenpeace?
The past 4 months have been filled with endless ANZ actions. We’ve been applying pressure on the big bank to stop financing new coal power stations. Our activities have included silent protests on trams, leafleting, postering, dressing as Men in Black to distribute secret information and the Collins place banner drops, which was probably one of the most exhilarating actions for a long while, along with the BHP Bilton banner drop!
I also had the privilege to be Barbie in the Mattel deforestation campaign a few weeks go which was exciting! Being Barbie for the day meant I got to play dress ups and walk around with a giant chainsaw with a bunch of tigers and orang-utans. We went to Mattel’s head office in Australia to urge the toy giant to stop packaging Barbie and its toys in rainforest destruction. It’s been great to see the other Greenpeace offices around the world doing similar activities.
Why do you volunteer with Greenpeace?
I am extremely passionate about environmental issues and being a part of helping protect our natural world. I am soon to complete my Bachelor of Environmental Studies and understand the pressing issues that face our generation and those to come. By volunteering my time, skills and knowledge for Greenpeace, I am making a stand for what I believe in.
Do you do other things that have a positive impact on the environment?
I have tried my absolute hardest in recent years to convert the way I live to be as sustainable as possible. I am vegetarian and am conscience of all the other foods I eat in terms of food mileage, organic produce and packaging. I also ride my bike most places and catch public transport as a second option. Second hand clothing is also important to me as it’s cheap and sustainable.
I have also volunteered with a number of other environmental organisations such as the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, The Greens, Friends of the Earth, Department of Sustainability for the city of Melbourne and internationally in Thailand working with Elephants and doing conservation work.
What do you most enjoy about volunteering with Greenpeace?
The people I volunteer with are fantastic and make everything enjoyable. I’ve also had heaps of opportunities in the past months to develop skills in direct actions and climbing.
Have there been any highlights from your time as a volunteer?
The Barbie/Mattel campaign would have to be the best and enjoyable action to work on! I think being part of an international campaign towards an issue that is so important [deforestation] made it for me!
There have also been so many other highlights over the past four months. I loved being involved in the Collins place and BHP Billiton banner drop [always adrenaline pumping stuff!].
What’s the most important environmental issue for you and why? Is there a Greenpeace campaign that you are most passionate about?
I don’t think that I could choose one Greenpeace campaign that I am most passionate about because they are all vital and remarkable. I’ve been following closely the Artic drilling campaign in Iceland. After the mass oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico we should be doing everything in our power to prevent it from occurring again, especially in the Artic, where oil spills cannot be cleaned up!
For me, the biggest environmental issues is transforming the mind set and functioning of our materialistic and economic driven society to give the environment the up most importance and priority. In the coming year I would love to see Australia follow in the footsteps of Bolivia who recently gave the environment the same rights as humans.