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August 13, 2014

What it is to be an Eco Citizen

What initially attracted me to write for Eco Citizen from the get-go was the name. Cool, I thought, I’m all for anything eco and I’m a citizen – and not just Australia, I like to think, a citizen of this planet. However, years and hundreds of stories later I have come to rethink what it means to me to be an eco citizen.
Is it wearing organic knickers (yep – I’ve covered them) and washing my hair in natural shampoo? Is it lusting after an alternative fuel car? Is it eating organic food and using natural cleaning products? While these are all noble efforts, for my money, it’s going to take more than organic underwear and natural makeup to change the planet.

tracey hordern eco citizen australia
Above: Tracey Hordern with Mr Bachi and Andy Tope at the original Eco Citizen HQ in Byron Bay.

It does, however start with the individual. Think global act local is an excellent credo to live by; it’s something most of us can achieve through our daily choices (usually by exerting our buying power). But what has truly inspired me at Eco Citizen is covering dynamic individuals that have dared to dream big and then followed up those dreams with action, inspiring others along their way to create change.

One of the most exciting stories I had the opportunity to write for Eco Citizen was profiling Polly Higgins. I saw the international lawyer / activist speak at my local civic hall (I’m lucky enough to call the Byron Shire home) and she blew me away. She is intelligent, articulate, realistic, inspired and inspiring.

By marrying her talents with her passion, Polly Higgins conceived an idea that may change the legal framework and repercussions for those that mistreat our planet – her premise is simple, but potentially powerful – what if this planet of ours has rights too? Her drive has spearheaded a movement amongst like-minded legal and politically connected people worldwide with the aim to have the United Nations ratify laws to eradicate the global crime of Ecocide. It’s early days, but it could potentially make the biggest difference.

Like Polly Higgins, Paul Watson’s journey began in a moment’s realisation. A wildlife activist since he was a child, it was witnessing the death of a harpooned whale that set his course for life. While endeavouring to protect whales from Japanese harpoons, Paul Watson locked eyes with an injured whale, and before the magnificent creature fell dead into the sea, it locked eyes for several seconds with Paul and seemed to communicate a deep understanding to him. Those seconds have sustained a man to create one of the most active and successful movements dedicated to the protection of whales, Sea Shepherd.

Another good news story, though I didn’t personally cover it, was the blockade against CSG at Bentley. Living in the Byron Shire, I was surrounded by people that cared – and cared enough to do something about it; it was inspirational to behold the efforts and even better to witness the joy when those efforts were rewarded. While the good fight is not over, it was heartening to see at least a temporary halt to CSG drilling at this site – thanks to people power.

Another awe-inspiring individual for me is Bob Brown, the granddaddy, pin up boy for Eco Citizenry in Australia. I have heard him speak several times, and each time I have left totally uplifted and inspired. His latest book that I heard him talk about – Optimism is timely to say the least. Throughout the book he explores his wholehearted belief in optimism as a powerful agent that can make a real difference. In these straightening times, he still manages to inspire people, at a time when it’s most needed.

But what inspires me the most about Eco Citizen? It’s the readers. Enough of you give an organic fig about what’s happening to this world of ours and are actively seeking out information about how to live a more eco-responsible existence – and that’s inspiring. By all means kit yourself out with organic knickers, natural skincare and eat the purest food you can find, but dream big and act on those dreams. The planet needs inspired Eco Citizens now, more than ever.

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