We are the 'wasteful generation'

Cookies are a delicious food, but you shouldn't eat too many of them.

Cookies are a delicious food, but you shouldn't eat too many of them.

In the early '80s there was a big stink in Tassie about the proposed damming of the Franklin River. It put Bob Brown at the centre of the political landscape, helped give birth to the Greens and propelled Bob Hawke into Labor Party folklore by taking on a Liberal state government over an environmental issue and winning.

What started as a political stoush ended up engulfing the national conscience. As well as seeing every other car plastered with a "No Dams" yellow triangle and activist David Bellamy getting thrown into Hobart's Risdon Prison, it resulted in the word "environment" becoming part of our lexicon. Pollution, land clearing and toxic-waste issues became headline news.

At the same time, environmental superstars were emerging: David Suzuki, David Attenborough, Jane Goodall. We collectively started to become aware our species – via greenhouse gas emissions, land clearing, overfarming and resource depletion – was making a mess, one that ultimately we'd need to look at cleaning up.

There are still plenty of environmental issues that need our attention, but in my world there's a new one that is equally urgent. It needs protests and direct action, like chaining ourselves to bulldozers and calling on governments for change – all for the healthy survival of our species. It's our own environment, our personal backyard.


To the detriment of our planet, and ourselves, we're overconsuming, eating more food than we need. We're also toxifying ourselves with stuff that shouldn't be in our bodies, such as excess sugar and chemicals from processed and factory-farmed foods. We're being environmentally irresponsible in the most important environment of all: our personal one.

We're increasingly letting our bodies stagnate in front of a computer screen instead of getting out and among it in the free-flowing world. We're letting big business tell us what we, and our children, should eat.

We are becoming the "wasteful generation". There is too much food available and most Australians end up eating it – resulting in 70 per cent of us being unhealthily fat – or throwing it away. Each of us chucks 200 kilograms of food in the bin each year, even though two million of us at some stage have run out of food and couldn't afford to buy more.

Reigniting our environmental consciousness starts at home. Cutting down on our self-pollution, our overconsumption of food and alcohol, and enrolling and educating our kids in being responsible for their personal environments – now THAT'S a bumper sticker!

Michelle's tip
Environmental consciousness is just that: being conscious and aware, and quietly building more self-responsibility into our lives.