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Jimmy HalfCut and Jessica Clarke stand in the Daintree rainforest

Jimmy has had half a beard for two years. This is why.

March 25, 2024
August 5, 2020

If you see someone on August 31 with half of their hair shaved off, one eyebrow missing, or sporting half a beard, don’t assume they’ve lost a bet with mates. They’re actually helping save the world.

HalfCut is a conservation initiative, started by Jimmy HalfCut (formerly James Stanton-Cooke) and Jessica Clarke, to highlight the devastating fact that over half of the world’s forests are now gone.

The growing social movement raises awareness – and funds – for forest conservation and regeneration, encouraging people of all ages to get involved through a fun peer-to-peer fundraising campaign: by committing to go HalfCut on August 31.

That could be shaving half your beard off, shaving (or braiding) half of your hair, even wearing half a face of makeup. It’s all about creating a visual disruptor that’ll make people stop and ask, “What’s this all about?”.

The idea for HalfCut

“We came up with the idea for HalfCut when we were travelling through South America, working on a conservation project in the Bolivian Amazon Basin,” Jimmy says.

“We noticed a lot of halves going on: half the world’s forests are gone, half the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is dead, over 50% of the planet’s wildlife and plant species are extinct, and we’ve got a 50% chance of keeping global temperatures below 1.5°C. Going HalfCut shows people ‘Half’s gone!’. We can grow our hair back, but the reality of growing back Gondwanaland? You can’t. So we’re protecting the land that’s remaining and getting on with regeneration.”

Funds raised through the initiative are used to purchase freehold properties in Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest. For the 2020 HalfCut campaign, Jimmy and Jess have been working with traditional landowners, the Kuku Yalanji mob, and the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, to buy their third property in the Daintree – Lot 155 – which will then be handed back to the traditional landowners.

HalfCut need to raise $220,875 to secure the 8.8ha Daintree property; that works out to about $2.50 for each square metre of land.

The importance of Lot 155

Lot 155 is extremely significant. Home to 220 endemic plant species, the land will provide secure habitat for the threatened endangered Southern cassowary and Bennett’s tree kangaroo. It’s also the site of the women’s Blue Hole, a sacred birthing ground and meeting place for women to come together, which has just been reclaimed by the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation.

“The local mob can see the benefits of being back on Country and starting that healing process, and then taking those next steps of eco tourism, cultural engagements, and green jobs,” Jimmy explains. “Even though we’re just a small cog in the wheel, it’s incredible being a part of it.”

How Bank Australia are getting involved

In 2020, Bank Australia went HalfCut, matching donations to the initiative dollar for dollar. Staff, customers and supporters were encouraged to sign up, raise some cash, and then commit to donning your HalfCut look on August 31. You don’t have to shave half your head either. You could braid or colour half your hair or beard, paint half your face, sew together two halves of two different outfits.

“It’s about getting creative and allowing people to have a bit of a laugh,” Jimmy says. “We’ve seen half clothing, half makeup, a few whole body HalfCuts from particularly hairy males. We’ve even seen someone give their dog a HalfCut for their end-of-winter groom.”

Jimmy has been sporting his HalfCut beard for almost two years. “I wear it as a badge of honour,” he explains. “For everyone who asks why I look like this, it’s an opportunity for a conversation, and it’s one more person hearing about the world’s deforestation. They might join you, they might make a donation, or it might make them start thinking about their own carbon footprint, and what they’re doing to make a difference.”

You can sign up or donate to HalfCut here.

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