Fringe Dweller: How Australia Made Me (a Bit) Greener
I am a self-proclaimed environmental advocate. What qualifies me to be one? I was in the environmental law practice in the Philippines; I practise waste segregation at home (and outside, where practicable); my family and I ride our bicycles as often as we can; we only have one car; we don’t eat processed food, and we keep ourselves aware of environmental issues in the Gold Coast, Australia, and the world.
Our lifestyle back in the Philippines was more laid back and we were so intertwined within our small community that we can easily forget about the environment.
But I didn’t. We tried our best to live an eco-friendly lifestyle and I kept myself informed of the various environmental policies and practices within the island and in the country. I thought I couldn’t get any greener that that! Until I came to the Gold Coast – my family’s new home.
First world consumerism gave me a bit of a shock when we first migrated. I saw scores of packaged instant meals and drinks in huge plastic bottles in supermarket aisles; fruits and vegetables bigger than me; one car for every person; and complete baby equipment for one baby. And as expected, people stock up on a lot of meat, wine, beer and spirits in their kitchens!
We decided to grow some vegetables in our garden here, something we never even thought about in the Philippines. After thinking about why this could be, I came up with one answer. Back in the Third World, locally grown fruits and vegetables seem to be a lot smaller. They don’t look ready for a photo shoot, but they are tasty and sweet. Here, most produce look like they are on steroids! Some can be tasty and worth lugging around with that extra weight, but they’re too much for my family to consume. I’m not sure how much of this super-sized produce is eaten and how much is thrown away.
“We need more jobs” seems to be a battle cry in this country. I thought it was just a Third World concern. With the global financial crisis threatening our workforce, I would’ve thought that the first world governments – who have more capability to spend on education and social welfare – would be the first to help their citizens become more self-sufficient. The Philippines have much smaller areas of land, but the ‘lower class’ citizens – who don’t have jobs in the first place – will probably survive with their own produce if the global economy collapses entirely.
I’m new to this country and I don’t claim to have enough knowledge about the societies and the cultures that Australia is based on. But at this point, I believe that I have become more appreciative of our environment. I am more aware of how both countries’ governments and citizens are relating to their environments –positively or negatively. Both countries are rich in natural resources and are in environmentally significant geographies, but I had higher expectations from the Australian government to be more aggressive in pushing for environmental consciousness and protection among its citizens.