Green Team Column #3: The Nine “R’s”

How many Rs does it take to be Green?

We started out with reading, writing and arithmetic. Then we got hammered with reduce, reuse and recycle. And you might have seen the three values of Awahono School highlighted in the Messenger recently: respect, responsibility and resilience.

With a bit of inflation, we have six more Rs of sustainability: reinvent, rethink, refuse, repair, replace, rebuy. Alongside the usual three (reduce, reuse, recycle), we now have nine Rs that will help save the world! The idea is that when we apply all these Rs to our lives, we pave the way for the future, which means that we respect our environment, take responsibility for our actions and create resilience in our communities. Wow, everything is connected!

You might say that small actions such as taking your reusable bags to the supermarket, saying no to a lid on your take-out coffee cup, or turning off the lights is just a drop in the ocean and won’t make any difference in the grand scheme of things. But as they say, every little bit helps and there is a great story that highlights this point.

Early one morning, an old man was walking along the beach after a big storm and found huge numbers of washed up starfish. He could see a small boy approaching who was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.

The old man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what you are doing?”

The boy replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. They can’t return to the sea by themselves. When the sun comes up, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man laughed and said, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “I made a difference for that one!”

Each one of us can do something small and it will start to make a difference. If many people do it, it will make a bigger difference. If our whole community does it, we can make a better future for all of us.

Then there are people like Al Gore who have the influence and vision to make life better for all of us who call planet Earth home.

You might have seen Al Gore’s startling and powerful documentary a few years ago, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. At the time (2006), some ridiculed his warnings and predictions about climate change. But now, he has created ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’, and in just over a decade, some of those warnings are already a reality with record breaking temperatures and bigger, more frequent storms.

We’d like to add one more R to the list – the Regent. Hokitika’s Regent Theatre will be showing ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ premièring this Thursday (24th August). So rock on down to the Regent and all will be revealed!

In the meantime, have a think about how you could weave those Rs into your life. Start with the small stuff: refuse a bag at the checkout, rebuy some clothes at the op shop, and rejoice when you see a starfish!

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Green Team Hokitika