Be the change you want to see in the systems

Protester wearing a black-tshirt looking down and holding a cardboard sign reading 'The Climate is changing why aren't we?'
MHM55, Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

We need climate action and we need it fast. Often people get caught up in the false dichotomy between individual behaviour change and system change. It’s true that fossil-fuel companies promote individual change to obscure their active climate denial and delay. But individual change can be powerful, creating community connections and leading citizens to demand bigger changes to match and amplify their individual efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

With the federal election campaign in full swing many of us are rightly focused on the actions government should take for climate justice.

So having said all that, and understanding it’s all a bit of nonsense, I’ve made a list of individual changes that could reduce your carbon footprint. No matter who wins the election, these will remain ripper ideas.


You can purchase Blu-Tack in shops but when I was growing up we harvested our own from existing posters. By taking a little from each corner you can gather enough to put up the next item and avoid making an unnecessary purchase. Eventually the posters will waft down every time you walk past, but this is a helpful reminder to tread gently on the earth and not bang the bathroom door.

Shop second-hand

If you need a new pair of work pants, instead of speeding for the fast-fashion, hit your local op-shop and benefit from the wastefulness of others! You will come home with fabulous dungarees and an as-new cake-stand. Keep wearing your old work trousers (which are probably not really that uncomfortable as long as you don’t sit down, and sitting down is the new smoking so you shouldn’t be doing it anyway) until you need a dress for a wedding. At this time you will find the perfect pair of smart trousers at Vinnies and it’s not like wearing dungarees to a wedding is illegal yet!

Scrap paper

Are you ever required to shred confidential documents at work? What a waste! Turn the shredder on for show but slip the papers into a (reusable!) carry bag to take home. Not only will you have something sensational to read on the train, but at home you can use the private and sensitive records for craft projects such as papier-mâché, origami or in the kitchen to thicken sauces.

One less

At least half the times you think of getting a pet, don’t. Pets greatly increase your carbon footprint, and that incudes rescue greyhounds. So every time you resist becoming the human of a loveable fur-ball you receive a big gold star for climate action. You can use these carbon savings to offset your next international flight. (Joke! This isn’t how it works you just get to feel smug and lonely.)


Cups, cups everywhere, nor any drop to drink. (Not sure if it’s relevant but I thought it might be clever and mean something.)

Just before COVID Keep Cups had really caught on. The washing-cans-of-soup phase of the pandemic was a blow to reusable takeaway cups but most cafes are accepting them again.

It’s time to up your cup game. Get everything in a cup. It’s amazing what can be packed down into a 300ml cylindrical vessel when enough pressure is applied by disgusted cafe staff. Muffins. Avocado toast. Half a chicken roll and chips if it’s a 90s school lunch order. Do bring multiple cups to keep your coffee and solids separate.

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