Consume less, love more – ZAM Magazine

05.10.2020 | Sisonke Msimang

I am South African but I live in Australia, which is one of the richest countries in the world. Like many people who live in rich countries, I began my year concerned about first world problems. I was preoccupied with getting a new school uniform for my eldest child and irritated by a neighbour whose building work was too noisy. I spent hours contemplating whether to take on an assignment that would take me away from home for too long. I did not imagine that within a few months, my children’s schools would be closed, my neighbour’s building work would be halted and I would lose a quarter of my income while staying at home due to a state-enforced lockdown.

The year started normally enough, with a New Year’s party and too much drinking. But within days I was consumed by news of the bushfires that raged across the east coast of the country. I watched rescue operations for koalas and humans and worried each time I smelled smoke. I wondered whether the ancient eucalyptus forests of Tasmania would be wiped out entirely, whether Kangaroo Island would ever see tourists again. Like other parents, I lay awake asking myself what all this would mean for my children. They are only in primary school and the prospect of climate change has always loomed large in their little lives. The answers seemed obvious, but I was too scared to do anything but pose the question – ‘what have I done?’ The fires were the latest in a long line of severe weather incidents caused by climate change and my small cheques to environmental group and obsession with recycling and composting seemed increasingly inadequate.


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This program is part of A Fair Share of Utopia


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