Green power through individual action

Griffith University’s Dr Sally Russell is leading the charge for Australians to embrace simple sustainable practices in everyday life.

With World Environment Day just around the corner, Dr Russell believes it’s the perfect opportunity to give attention to the role individuals can play in contributing to a “green economy”.

To do this successfully she admits we need to adopt new behaviour and ultimately a new way of thinking.

“We need to recognise the interrelationships between everything we do, everything we consume and the effect that has on the planet and on our health and wellbeing.”

“I don’t think many people have a clear picture of what a green or sustainable economy will look like and so there is fear about what might be lost.

“It requires a significant leap of faith to make the shift to a new way of operating and a whole new way of doing business in particular.

“Emotions are also a key driver of behaviour. For example, when an individual feels angry or even hopeful they may be compelled to act to resolve an environmental issue, however if they respond with a sense of sadness or hopelessness this can lead to inaction.”

Dr Russell says there are many simple things people can incorporate into their daily lives that will make a difference.

“Catch the bus, ride a bike or walk to work or school, turn off appliances on standby and investigate where your everyday purchases come from and look for more sustainable options,” she says.

She says her life’s work and hope for a shift towards greater sustainability was spurred on by her personal connection to the Great Barrier Reef.

“I was born in Airlie Beach and have seen just how much the reef has changed during my lifetime.”

“This has compelled me to use my knowledge and experience to try and encourage businesses and individuals to address environmental issues and reverse the negative impacts we are currently seeing.”

Dr Russell is currently leading one of four streams of a project funded by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF), entitled “What about me? Factors affecting individual adaptive coping capacity across different population groups.”

In collaboration with the University of Western Australia, University of Queensland, University of Leeds (UK) and Mater Health Services, the research examines how people adapt to climate change information and initiatives and how values, emotions, beliefs and goals affect adaptive coping goals and behaviours.

World Environment Day is on Tuesday June 5.