ELLE (Australia) - - Contents - @JUSTINE_CULLEN

GROW­ING UP IN THE ’80S, we didn’t know much about the en­vi­ron­ment, other than that we were all sup­posed to “Do The Right Thing” to “Keep Aus­tralia Beau­ti­ful”, just like the sticker on the back of our dad’s Com­modore told us. That, and also that all the hair­spray we were us­ing to make our fringes stand on end had made a gi­gan­tic hole in the ozone layer that was likely to make us all die from skin can­cer. That was bad. But as far as we were con­cerned, it was pretty much the ex­tent of it. Don’t lit­ter, stop us­ing aerosols, save the world.

We’re just a bit more en­vi­ron­men­tally woke now. And even though our con­cern has been grow­ing steadily since way back then, it seems like re­cently (as in, just over the past few months for many of us) it’s all started to hit home with a re­al­ness and an ur­gency that some­how was never there be­fore. Sud­denly, tak­ing a cute string bag to the cor­ner shop and re­cy­cling our pizza boxes doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Maybe it’s the dra­matic changes in weather that we can no longer ig­nore. Maybe it’s Trump’s dogged in­sis­tence on turn­ing back ev­ery bit of progress that had been made that has spurred the rest of us into ac­tion. Per­haps it’s know­ing that if we don’t hot­foot it to Africa within the next few years, we’ll have for­ever lost our chance to see an ac­tual rhino in the wild. What­ever the mo­ti­va­tion, our col­lec­tive con­scious­ness has started prod­ding us, con­stantly, in ways we can no longer ig­nore. From the in­sid­i­ous sea of plas­tics in su­per­mar­kets that we’d some­how never no­ticed be­fore (ev­ery sin­gle piece of which has ever been pro­duced is still float­ing around some­where on this Earth) to ev­ery fash­ion mis­step we’ve ever made hang­ing ac­cus­ingly un­worn in our wardrobes (a waste of 2,700 litres of wa­ter for ev­ery sad, un­wanted T-shirt), the ev­i­dence of our un­wit­ting com­plic­ity in the de­struc­tion of the planet is ev­ery­where. And fi­nally, rather than turn­ing a blind eye, we’re be­ing moved to act.

Of course, it’s easy to feel over­whelmed by the hope­less­ness of it all. It’s just not as easy as switch­ing to mousse to re­verse the sit­u­a­tion any­more. Or is it? The 1987 Mon­treal Pro­to­col ban­ning CFCS didn’t only just im­prove our hair­dos but ac­tu­ally did even­tu­ally shrink the hole in the ozone layer (at least un­til some rogue mys­te­ri­ous East Asian coun­try re­cently started pump­ing them out again). It’s proof that we’re not com­pletely pow­er­less; it is pos­si­ble to make a dif­fer­ence. And even if it’s not, if it’s all too late and we’re just hurtling to­wards even­tual ex­tinc­tion, can we re­ally sit by, know­ing what we know, and just do noth­ing?

This is­sue is filled with ways we can, as in­di­vid­u­als, as fam­i­lies, as women, start to live a lit­tle more con­sciously in the world. It might not be as sim­ple as don’t lit­ter, stop us­ing aerosols, save the world, but it’s worth a try.


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