Planting the seedlings for a more sustainable future

Most of us feel either overwhelmed or guilty when we hear the word ‘climate change’. Although we know that we need to do something about it, many of us don’t know how, or feel there is nothing much we can do to make a difference.

But thanks to initiatives of the UTS Sustainability team to make improvements to the campus, and engage students and staff in sustainable habits, changes at UTS are leading the way towards a more environmentally-friendly campus, providing a model for a more sustainable society.

UTS Sustainability Coordinator, Seb Crawford, says that people often don’t realise that small changes can make a big impact.

“People generally know what climate change is and why it’s a problem, but some of these issues are really big and hard to get your head around. And of course people often wonder if they can really change the system.

“So we are trying to teach and motivate everyone to understand how, as individuals, they can plug into the bigger systemic problems,” he explains.

The team encourages staff and students to make small lifestyle changes, such as using reusable coffee cups, bottles and bags, drinking tap water, using the stairs, cycling to work and recycling. However, Mr Crawford explains that not everyone can do all of those things all of the time – and that’s okay.

“People should do their best, but they shouldn’t beat themselves up if they live an hour away from the city and can’t cycle to work.

“What we encourage everyone to do is to simply take small steps to get a little bit better each and every day,” he says.

Mr Crawford considers sustainability to be a continuous journey to which individuals can make a positive contribution during their lifetime. Small actions can have long-term positive effects. One example from his own life is a legacy from his late mother.

“I remember one day as a teenager, I was helping my mum plant tiny little seedlings in her garden, and she said she wanted to create a rainforest. I was a bit grumpy on the day and I certainly didn’t think much of it at the time.

“But today, 25 years later, I’m planting the understory plants of this flourishing rainforest. I love the fact that my mum had the foresight to know that it would become a forest, even though it seemed so small at first,” he says.

The Problem

Most people are overwhelmed by the climate change debate and feel that they have no power to change the global systems that cause it

The Response

The UTS sustainability team is reaching out to staff and students, helping them take small changes in their lives to contribute to global solutions.

What helped accomplish this?

Students and staff are engaged through games, workshops, events and meetings, but also fun social media competitions

What has changed as a result?

The UTS sustainability team has observed behavioural changes on campus showing an appetite among students and staff for a more sustainable world.

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