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Cather­ine Con­stan­tinides on leav­ing noth­ing but foot­prints

Be­ing a sea­soned trav­eller has al­lowed me to see the world and ex­pe­ri­ence the way other peo­ple live. I’ve been given a small glimpse of the daily chal­lenges peo­ple face in re­mote places. The globe is in­ter­linked and I’ve grown to un­der­stand how each thing re­lates to and im­pacts on the other. Ev­ery ac­tion cre­ates a greater rip­ple, send­ing me into a tidal pool of ex­pe­ri­ence, won­der­ment, love and pas­sion for hu­man­ity – and, most im­por­tantly, my con­nect­ed­ness to this mag­nif­i­cent place we call home: planet earth.

It’s crit­i­cal that ev­ery per­son un­der­stands what they can do to make a dif­fer­ence, since we’re part of a col­lec­tive. I’m priv­i­leged to do what I do as an in­ter­na­tional cli­mate ac­tivist, hu­man rights de­fender and na­tion­builder. My pri­mary ob­jec­tive is to bring about change. To do this, I en­sure that I live like a con­scious con­sumer ev­ery day. Each time I travel, I make an ef­fort to plant trees to coun­ter­act my car­bon emis­sions. I pack only what I need and travel with #Mysam­sonite be­cause it’s light, ef­fi­cient and a brand of con­science when it comes to green­ing.

Most peo­ple think my jour­ney started when I be­came Miss Earth SA, but it ac­tu­ally be­gan long be­fore that, when I was a young stu­dent im­mersed in so­cial jus­tice is­sues within the com­mu­ni­ties that sur­rounded me. I spent ev­ery spare mo­ment en­gag­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers on the ground, un­der­stand­ing the plight of our peo­ple and planet.

The Miss Earth SA lead­er­ship pro­gramme is now a well-es­tab­lished en­vi­ron­men­tal ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme for young South African women. It aims to in­spire en­vi­ron­men­tal change, en­cour­age cli­mate di­a­logue and, above all, trig­ger be­havioural change and a shift in mind­set.

Ev­ery day we’re learn­ing new ways of re­duc­ing our im­pact on the earth, from the way we shop and con­sume to the de­mands we make of man­u­fac­tur­ers and sup­pli­ers. We’ve for­got­ten how im­por­tant our money and pur­chas­ing power are when it comes to com­mu­ni­cat­ing what we want and what we’ll pay man­u­fac­tur­ers, sup­pli­ers, de­vel­op­ers, chain stores and out­lets.

We all have an im­mense re­spon­si­bil­ity and role to play right now. How will you en­deav­our to leave only foot­prints and touch the earth lightly, while at the same time mak­ing an im­pact and cre­at­ing a legacy for gen­er­a­tions to come?


Cather­ine Con­stan­tinides is the woman be­hind Miss Earth SA and all its good works, as well as a speaker, a Man­dela Washington Fel­low, an eco­preneur, a food se­cu­rity ad­vo­cate, a hu­man­i­tar­ian and an Arch­bishop Tutu African Ox­ford Fel­low. 9ou’ll of­ten find her, sleeves rolled up, lead­ing the charge in tack­ling global cli­mate and hu­man­i­tar­ian is­sues.

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