Greenpeace volunteers brave the rain to pick up rubbish from Gordon's Bay. The initiative is driven by the Sydney Greenpeace Local Group and takes place on the first Sunday of each month at various locations around Sydney. Most of the rubbish collected consisted of plastic packaging and polystyrene.

It’s time for collective responsibility

A few weeks ago, mum called to tell me how horrified she had been to find out that plastic toothbrushes end up in landfill; and that she had bought bamboo brushes for the whole family. I promised to remember to take my new toothbrush on my next visit; and of course reassured her that, yes, I do still remember to always brush up and down. Needless to say, she was really excited about the new toothbrushes (and my dental hygiene).  

I hung up the phone with a chuckle at her enthusiasm, but as the day went on I became more and more frustrated. All this talk of sustainable toothbrushes, and meanwhile Australia remains the leading coal exporter in the world, and our state governments carry on refusing to regulate single use plastic bags.

ABC’s recent ‘War on Waste’ has put living a greener life back into the lime light. In the last couple months, disposable coffee cups have become a dirty look, composting a trendy past time, and zero waste living the hottest trend. People [like my lovely mother] who had never before taken an interest in environmental issues have sat up and started paying attention to the negative effects their actions are having on our world, and it’s fantastic.

But it’s time to be real, boycotting disposable coffee cups alone, will not curb climate change. Pushing the responsibility for environmental action onto consumers is something major corporations have been doing for decades [Coca-Cola, we’re looking at you!]. It’s far cheaper for big business to have the cost fall to their customers rather than to shoulder it themselves. Why should they have the responsibility to fix it at the source, when we’re smug and happy taking containers to our favourite Thai restaurant, and telling our mates how wax food wraps are the greatest investment we ever made?

A couple weeks ago, after an incredible wave of public consciousness, Australia’s two largest super markets decided to ditch single use plastic bags; proving, yet again, that the power we have as a collective is unfathomably more beneficial to our world than if we each go it alone.

Around 60,000 people turned out to call for strong climate action ahead of the COP21 climate talks in Paris.

Our individual efforts to minimize our environmental impacts are but drop in our [plastic filled] ocean when compared to the potential improvements to be made by our government and corporations. So it’s our responsibility to hold them responsible, and let them know that we expect better, much, much better.

So let’s keep that conversation going, because with it comes the responsibility to speak up and demand the same commitment from those with the power to create enormous change. The environmental movement has taken a definite shift in recent decades, from fighting against individual, destructive projects, to a worldwide battle to prevent catastrophic climate change; this is a movement of shifting mindsets and perspectives at every level; of collective responsibility and action. But with the combined enthusiasm of the collective in every aspect of our lives we will be the positive driving force in the movement which is set to define our time.

So we’ll see you all at the next Greenpeace action proudly carrying your Star Wars keep cup, in up-cycled organic cotton kit, while we raise our collective voice and call for action.

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