Everyday Enviro with Elise: be the change - RNY News

Everyday Enviro with Elise: be the change

April 6, 2022

Elise Catterall

Elise reflects on four years of writing Everyday Enviro and why it's never too late or too little to start being friendlier to the planet.

I’m about to hit the 4-year anniversary of writing this column, which discusses all the little, everyday ways you can be friendlier to the environment. I’ve written a piece every fortnight for four years and I’ve never run out of things to write about. 

This has made me realise that biggest takeaway from those 100 or so articles, collectively, is just that: we can never run out of things to do to lessen our impact on the environment, or to shop, consume and behave more ethically and sustainably. In almost all things, there is a better choice to make, a better option to consider, a better way to act.

Most of the topics I have covered aren’t about big, earth-shattering issues and aren’t hugely impactful in and of themselves, but they all add up. That’s an important point. Since returning to a semblance of normal after the pandemic lockdowns, it has felt like many of the positive individual acts that people were performing have fallen by the wayside. 

Things like using keep cups, using handkerchiefs over tissues, using public transport instead of private, even thrifting, all seem to have declined. These small daily things might seem inconsequential, but they are not – especially when we recognise that on top of that, we have seen huge increases in single use plastic waste from masks and rapid antigen test. It’s time to try and redress the impact of both those things. 

Though it is something of a cliché now, as Mahatma Gandhi said, we need to be the change we want to see and this now means actively looking for changes to make, whether they be simple changes (eg, using that keep cup again) or difficult, inconvenient ones (eg, adopting veganism).  Writing this column has given me an advantage in that way, as I am constantly reading and learning about changes to make. 

The column has motivated and emboldened me to make changes and to face some difficult truths about my personal values. Most of all, it has flipped my mindset, making me more invested in the greater good, in the longer term, in sustainability, in circularity, and one of the most impactful things for me, shifting my focus from acquisition to enjoyment.

So, this is a call – or a reminder - to make change. If you need inspiration for changes you can make, there are 100 articles before this one covering everything from personal hygiene to party decorations, but don’t stop there. It is critical that we read, learn, and share information about our environment and the climate path we are on. 

We need to feel impatient, frustrated, unsatisfied and uncomfortable, because that is what will allow us to keep our eyes on the prize and keep us (individually and collectively) moving productively from those smaller, everyday actions and changes to big picture, really impactful, ones.

To get started (or restarted), below are some reading suggestions, some listening suggestions and some doing suggestions (this is just a sampling):





Elise Catterall

Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.