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There’s a growing number of climate-concerned Australians doing amazing things to give our planet a future. In her new book ‘Together We Can’, writer and Bank Australia customer Claire O’Rourke tells the stories of people doing their bit to make a difference.
When you Google ‘climate’, the results are pretty grim. Sea levels are rising, oceans are getting warmer, and whole swathes of country are burning. People around the world are freaking out about the state of the planet.
But among the doom and gloom are a growing number of stories about everyday people taking transformative action to turn things around and build a sustainable future. When writer, environmentalist, climate advocate and Bank Australia customer Claire O’Rourke began looking for those stories, there were so many she decided to collate them into a book.
‘Together We Can’ is for anyone who’s worried about what climate change means for our future, and is up for the challenge to make meaningful change now.
“The other day someone asked me how I found all these stories,” Claire says. “Honestly, they’re everywhere; you almost trip over them! We just don’t look for them often enough, because we’re spending so much of our time caught up in negative news. We need to be intentional about the stories we want to consume.”
Some of Claire’s favourite stories from the book include actor Yael Stone’s Hi Neighbour community organisation, which provides pathways for fossil fuel workers looking to retrain in other industries; Bardee, a Melbourne-based startup using black soldier flies to turn food waste into fertiliser, pet food, and even human food (“which kind of messes with your brain a bit!”); and First Nations woman Nola Turner-Jensen, who’s mapping the Wiradjuri language all the way through her Country.
“Nola really gave me a lesson in how to be more connected and more caring to the environment that you live in, because First Nations peoples, she taught me, are always thinking of animals and plants as their ancestors and about how everything is connected,” says Claire. “Some of those shifts in thinking make me question if that’s all it might take to solve [the climate] crisis, that is, if together we take on the responsibility to care for people and our environment.”
The book also provides an action plan, giving readers all the tools they need to get started, including switching energy providers and moving your money out of fossil fuels. “One person doing a small thing can make a really big difference – especially if everyone starts doing it,” Claire explains. “What’s more, research indicates that the more you do at an individual level, like recycling your garbage, reusing your plastic bags, or eating more locally grown food, the more likely you’ll be to take part in more public or collective forms of action over time.”
Claire also offers up helpful tips on how to start – and maintain – climate conversations with family, friends and work colleagues. “Everyone has a certain level of influence in your local community or at the office,” she says. “So, think about the networks you can leverage to create a bigger impact with your action plan.”
While she admits to still feeling scared about what the future holds from time to time, Claire says that the process of writing the book – learning from other people's insights and experiences, and the incredible work that’s being done around the country – has made her feel more hopeful that we can actually have an impact.
“I have a load of confidence that there are millions of Australians already working on this,” she says. “I’m hoping that this book is a small contribution to help inspire people to rachet up their involvement in this critical decade. What’s so exciting is that the more you look around, the more opportunities you find to take action on climate, and the more motivated you can become to consider what’s next.”