The clouds cleared, opening up a light baby blue sun-kissed sky with a rainforest horizon in the distance. A spontaneous trip to Cairns, in Queensland, Australia came unexpectedly through my close friend Stori who was kind enough to have me as her plus one on the journey. Four days consisted of incredible scenic views and a once in a lifetime experience. Prior to switching majors last spring, I was on an Environmental Studies track. I’ve always had a vast interest in the world that surrounds us and how humans impact our surrounding world. My sophomore year I had an amazing professor who integrated not only social, personal, and environmental factors but additionally showcased case studies of real problems impacting our world. The Great Barrier Reef was one of these studies that six months later I have now witnessed first-hand.
Our boat docked in the middle of the reef. We were instructed to go to the edge of the back to snorkel for an hour surrounded by the biodiverse sea-life. Stori and I surveyed the area. We inspected varied coral and fishes and she even had a run in with a reef shark. While the experience is something I don’t think I will ever forget, what truly stood out to both of us was how strikingly dull the reef was. Patches of bright color that matched the glittering fish were present, but I can only personally imagine what this natural oasis originally looked liked and could be appreciated for. Not only did we witness the reef, but also the Daintree rainforest; the oldest in the world and biggest in Australia, and on a subsequent trip to Melbourne, AU., the Twelve Apostles, a natural collection now reduced to only nine limestone stacks due to erosion.
A major aspect that I took away from these trips was both how much natural beauty exists in our world, and why it’s important to preserve every aspect we can. I still remember having a conversation with a friend I met from Britain. On a trip to Manly beach, we discussed the concept of minimalism. I remember talking about how we both haven’t bought more than a few small extra articles while being here and the appreciation we both had for everything we have in our lives that so many in other countries don’t. When I began my semester here in Sydney I chose to only use one primary reusable water bottle. In 2016, in America, the BanTheBottle campaign stated that each American used approximately 167 disposable water bottles throughout the year with only on average about 38 actually being recycled. This translates to an estimated 50 billion plastic water bottles alone being produced through industrialization, adding to fumes in the atmosphere and overall global warming investigated in just one of the 195 other countries worldwide.
Another aspect that I chose to be apart of at Macquarie University was the Global Leadership program. The main components of the program consisted of attending four colloquial culture sessions and one event. The event specifically that I attended was focused on Food Sustainability in America. A few key points from the talk focused on breaking the cycles of integrated targets of cultures, age groups, and economic demographics, as well as implementing local gardens in communities, that tie into building economies. This was specifically talked about by Davida Davidson a speaker and correspondent for FoodLab’s in Detroit, and defined by their website as,”a diverse community of food businesses and allies working to make good food a sustainable reality for all Detroiters.” The talk at the University of Sydney who outlined this Block by Block initiatives such as in Brightmoor, and how Detroit is seeing a retrograde in the community that was almost deemed to be too far gone.
The western society concepts of over-consumption and an “out of sight out of mind” mentality helps to shed light on the aspect of how little changes such as using less and reusing can help to conserve natural wonders such as the nine remaining apostles, and slow potential re-blooming of algae within the reef that has potential to change a problem that is still at a point of being fixable. A small change such as mine these last four months reduced my bottle consumption from 167 bottles to one. These changes, which aren’t impossible and can be easily adopted by large numbers of people, can produce massive changes.
The world awaits…discover it.