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Polly Higgins Making Ecocide a crime against Peace

Is Your Life too Plastic? Tim Silverwood

JCU wins TEFMA Innovation award

Zero Emissions

By 2020 is possible

Bachelor of Sustainability Starts @ JCU 2012

Issue 2 - Oct -Dec 2011 www.jcu.edu.au/tropeco Printed on 100% recycled paper


Editorial Letter from the Editor Welcome to our second edition of TropEco News. We have had some great feedback and support from many of you about the first edition and we hope to bring you even more in our second edition.

Issue 2 October - December 2011 Editor: Adam Connell Sub Editor: Suzy Keys

Contents 2. Beyond Zero Emissions 2020 3. What’s happening? 4. TropEco in Cairns with Lania Lynch 5. Polly Higgins - Making Ecocide a Crime by Lania Lynch 6. Bachelor of Sustainability 2012 by Suzy Keys 7. JCU wins TEFMA award by Adam Connell 8. Janet Dearden with Adam Connell 9. Is your life too plastic? with Adam Connell

Contribute to TropEco News Do you have a sustainability related story or event you want to tell people about? Please send it into tropeco@jcu.edu.au with any relevant pictures and we may put it up on the TropEco Facebook page or publish it in TropEco News. Cover Photo: Lania Lynch, Polly Higgins, Janet Millington, Cairns Permaculture and Malcolm Barrett (School of Law). Photo: Suzy Keys 1

In our efforts to Go Green we are only printing 100 copies of each newsletter, for distribution to communal areas such as tea rooms, office foyers and residential colleges. We hope that most of you can access and read the newsletter online but if you would like a hard copy please contact us to request one. We also print our newsletter on 100% recycle paper. Over the last few months there has been a lot going on at JCU as you will see from this edition. We had Polly Higgins attend our Cairns Campus to talk about her new book and her mission to eradicate ecocide. If ever someone is going to change the world in a matter of a few years, to one that values and recognises environmental sustainability in all its decisions, she will be the person to do it. I urge you to check out her work online and give her your support. We also had a visit from Tim Silverwood, an environmental campaigner raising awareness of plastic pollution in our oceans. Tim was also here to show the award winning film Bag It, which is a sobering and sometimes overwhelming movie, showing the needless destruction that is occurring in our oceans due to human carelessness. A big thanks to Tim for his time at JCU and in Townsville. Check out the article on Tim on page 9. Don’t forget, TropEco News is a newsletter for the JCU community and

we urge anyone interested - staff, students or the community - to write a story or news articles for publication in TropEco News. If it’s related to sustainability and is relevant to the JCU community we want to hear it.

Adam Connell Manager, Environment Division of Finance and Resource Planning James Cook University, Angus Smith Drive, Douglas, QLD 4811 P: +61 7 4781 5060 Mobile: 0459 097 253

Making Ecocide a Crime - Polly Higgins John Lennon asked us to give peace a chance. Barrister and author Polly Higgins is doing just that. Page 5 TropEco and the Realfood network hosted Polly Higgins at JCU’s Cairns Campus. This soft spoken, delightful woman charmed everyone and made absolute sense. Read and be inspired. A Plan for Action - Janet Dearden Adam Connell talks to another woman who has made JCU’s sustainability her mission. Page 8 JCU’s Policy Officer Janet Dearden has volunteered her time to drive the implementation of important initiatives at JCU, such as the University Services Division - Sustainability Action Plan. Is your life too plastic? Bag It! Tim Silverwood visited JCU recently to talk about the effects our addiction to consumption of plastic is having on our environment. Page 9

TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia


TropEco

Beyond Zero Emissions

TropEco is a new program launched by JCU to actively involve staff and students in sustainability initiatives. The TropEco program will run a range of initiatives over the coming years to help raise awareness of sustainability and give practical solutions to ensure everyone can make a difference, both at JCU and in their everyday lives. TropEco News will bring you all the latest info on sustainability at JCU so make sure you sign up to the mailing list by emailing tropeco@jcu.edu.au

Our People TropEco is run by the Facilities Management Office and has two full time staff members: Adam Connell is our Environment Manager based in Townsville and Lania Lynch is our Environmental Co-ordinator based in Cairns.

Our Programs Some of the programs TropEco has planned include: • Sustainable transport options • Reducing energy and water consumption

Volunteers for Beyond Zero Emissions, graduated from a weekend workshop in Cairns to learn how to spread the idea, include Stacey O’Brien and Jonathan Strauss from left in the front row. Photo: Courtesy Stacey O’Brien

Research collaboration between Melbourne University and 300 volunteers around Australia has produced a fully costed plan to bring Australia’s Co2 emissions to zero within a decade. Suzy Keys TropEco invited JCU students Stacey O’Brien and Jonathan Strauss to address the Cairns JCU community about the plan on August 12. Stacey said that “the plan is a roadmap to decarbonize the economy using existing commercial technology”.

• Recycling and Waste Management • Enhancing our unique biodiversity and environment • Food sustainability • Green College Competitions • Green Intern program • Green Reps • Development of a Sustainability Working Group

The roadmap consists of 6 plans, the first one being the Stationary Energy Plan, which was published in July 2010. This is also available for download from their web site. This first plan has received many accolades locally and globally including the Mercedes Benz Environmental Research award in 2010. The plan combines 40 % wind power with concentrated solar thermal storage and less than 2% biomass back up.

TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia

Beyond Zero Emissions has designated 12 solar regions and 23 wind regions across Australia. What makes this solar system different? For a start, the solar thermal technology is already available and is being used in Spain, China and the United States. Solar rays are focused onto a single collector tower to heat molten salt using a wide field of heliostat mirrors. The salt can be heated to 550 celsius and stored and used 24 hours a day to produce steam through a heat exchanger, to then generate electricity. The resources to build this infrastructure are readily available in Australia, and consist mainly of concrete and steel. Beyond Zero Emissions estimate it will cost 3% of GDP for 10 years and create 80,000 jobs, which is double the coal industry jobs. The plan needs public support and government action to overcome the power of vested interests in coal, oil and gas. For more information and how you can help at: http:// beyondzeroemissions.org/

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What’s happening? Win a bike or $400 to spend on your bike, just for riding to JCU!

Register for free and go in the draw for a NEW BIKE!! To register, go to: https://ride2work.com.au/ Free Community Breakfast at the Atrium, next to the Boathouse. Breakfast will be from 7am to 9am. Remember, when registering use the following settings: Workplace: James Cook University street address: MacGregor Rd City or Suburb: Smithfield

Ride to Work/Uni Day is coming on Wednesday 12th October and to encourage staff and students to get involved TropEco will be giving away a bike or $400 to spend on your bike to one lucky rider on the Townsville and Cairns Campuses. We are teaming up with the JCU BUG and the Hospital BUG in Townsville and the JCU Cairns BUG and the Student Association in Cairns to bring you a Community Breakfast and the chance to win a bike or $400 to spend on it, just for registering on the Ride to Work Day website https://ride2work.com.au/

Register for free and go in the draw for a NEW BIKE!! To register, go to: https://ride2work.com.au/ Free Community Breakfast opposite SUBWAY at the Hospital complex, 6:45 to 8:45 am Remember, when registering use the following settings: Workplace: James Cook University (JCU) street address: 1 James Cook Drive City or Suburb: Douglas

More Information For Townsville queries – contact Adam Connell on x5060 or Adam.Connell@jcu.edu.au or Adella Edwards on x5681 or Adella.edwards@jcu.edu.au For Cairns queries, contact Eric Wilson on x1115 or Eric.Wilson@jcu.edu.au or Lania Lynch on x1536 or lania.lynch@jcu.edu.au

Did you know that staff and students have free membership to ACTS Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability? Register now at http://www.acts.asn.au/ and get access to member only sustainability resources; including quarterly sustainability news (ACTivate) and the fortnightly bulletin (EnACT). For more info on ACTS, contact TropEco. 3

This year the Community Breakfast at Townsville will be held on the Hospital Grounds, across from the Subway from 6:45am - 8:45am. This is to celebrate and encourage the newly formed Hospital BUG, so let's really show them how much we love cycling at JCU and join them on their big day. In Cairns, the breakfast will be held at the Atrium, next to the Boathouse. Breakfast will be available from 7 - 9 am.

Remember, when registering that you must use the following settings:

Townsville Workplace: James Cook University (JCU) Street address: 1 James Cook Drive City or Suburb: Douglas

Cairns Workplace: James Cook University Street address: MacGregor Rd City or Suburb: Smithfield

To register, go to: https://ride2work.com.au/ Contribute to TropEco News Do you have a sustainability related story or event you want to tell people about? Send it into tropeco@jcu.edu.au with any relevant pictures and we will put it up on the TropEco Facebook page or publish it in TropEco News.

TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia


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TropEco in Cairns with Lania Lynch Help Yourself Food Garden and Clean up Campus Day TropEco Environmental Coordinator Lania Lynch said that the Campus Clean Up and Help Yourself Food Garden activities in Cairns on Friday 9 September were a great way to involve staff, students and the community in sustainability projects on campus. TropEco and the Cairns Campus Community Garden Working Group developed the idea of a "Help Yourself Food Garden" to start generating interest in food production on Campus. While a site for the larger Cairns Campus Community Garden Learning Hub has not yet been allocated, the committee have met regularly in 2011 to progress the vision, gain support and engage with external stakeholders. The "Help Yourself Food Garden" was designed by Janet Middleton - a well known and experienced Permaculture teacher and author of "Outdoor Classrooms, A Handbook for School Gardens". Janet joined JCU Cairns as a law student in 2011 and wasted no time in organizing Permaculture workshops and earth based activities around Cairns. Janet taught approximately 30 people on Friday 9 September how to build a "wicking pot", which is designed to keep moisture levels constant and provide optimum growing conditions. Thanks for JCUSA Cairns Campus Manager Jon Lemmon for lending 4 very solid cast iron black planters!

the clean up event with 2 x $25 bookshop vouchers which were won by students Stacey O’Brien and Maria de Vries Congratulations. Thanks also to all who participated and enjoyed lively conversation at the Boathouse over well earned refreshments. If you would like to participate in future campus clean-ups or planting events, just email tropeco@jcu.edu.au Above: Stacey O’Brien and Maria de Vries receive their $25 JCU book shop vouchers from Ross Honniball. Left to right, Teodora Nagy, Janet Millington, Robyn Lynn, Stacey O’Brien, Ross Honniball Marie de Vries. Front Helen Body and Lania Lynch. Right: Design for ‘Help Yourself Food Garden’ by Janet Millington, seen below right with Lania Lynch. Below: Participants get ready to plant the Food Garden. (Photos: Suzy Keys)

With no less keen, but certainly fewer helpers for the Campus Clean-up day; rubbish was collected from the B1, A1 and A2 carparks, along the creek, the library, the rock, the Crowther and other areas. The small team did a fantastic job and filled 7 bags of rubbish while exercising their arms, abs and back in the process. There were also a few interesting finds (anyone lose a paint scraper?)...Thanks to the Bookshop Manager, Ross Hannibal for supporting TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia

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Making ‘Ecocide’- a crime against PEACE! English lawyer and barrister, Polly Higgins has made the earth her main client and is on a global Mission to make the destruction of habitat a crime against peace to be tried in the International Criminal Courts. Lania Lynch Polly Higgins is a breath of Lania Lynch, Polly Higgins, Janet Millington, Cairns Permaculture and Malcolm Barrett fresh air in a sea of insanity (School of Law). Photo: Suzy Keys and is living proof that one person can make a difference if they make the commitment to do so. Her one woman campaign to make the we do is impose a legal duty of care on and a judge tested the new law of destruction of habitat a crime against not just corporations but also Ecocide and a jury brought in a guilty peace is an inspiration to those who governments to assist those who are at verdict. It was live-streamed across the despair for the future of the planet. Those risk of ecocide or have been adversely world by internet and filmed for future lucky enough to hear and meet her at impacted by it”. use by media, governments, schools and JCU’s Cairns Campus recently were universities. Updates can also be among the inspired. The lecture illustrated how global followed on twitter #ecocidetrial and on Polly was in Cairns to promote her book Eradicating Ecocide, as part of her world tour. Her book won the People’s Book Prize for 2011 and she was voted one of the world’s Top 10 Visionary Thinkers by The Ecologist. Polly was here to speak about her plans to eliminate ecocide – severe damage caused to the environment, proposed to be classed as a crime against peace under United Nations Law, along with genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression and war crimes. Under the law, corporate polluters, who can currently litigate their way out, would be forced to stand trial before the International Criminal Court. Ms Higgins said “By creating a law of ecocide, what

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standards of accountability for corporations can be achieved to put an end to the culture of impunity and double standards that pervade the international legal system. Around 120 people attended the 12 September lecture. Polly also signed copies of her book, which is available at the JCU Cairns Bookshop. Thanks to TropEco, the School of Law, Realfood Network (http:// www.realfoodnetwork.com.au/) and Permaculture Cairns (http:// www.permaculturecairns.org.au/ ) who made the event possible.

Ecocide on trial September 30 On 30th September, a mock Ecocide trial was held in the UK’s Supreme Court, the UK’s top court of the land. Real barristers

facebook Ecocide Mock trial. Tell your friends and colleagues about it.

How YOU can help As this is a worldwide campaign, JCU staff and students are encouraged to show support of the Ecocide law by sending a message of support (http:// www.eradicatingecocide.com/getinvolved/support-us/ ) and also by taking action by writing to Julia Gillard (template at http:// www.thisisecocide.com/get-involved/ take-action/ ) A video recording of the lecture has been posted to youtube at http:// www.youtube.com/watch? v=pYwa24q7xWI and also to the TropEco website http://wow.jeu.de.au/ tropic/about/JCU_086249.html.

TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia


Bachelor of Sustainability 2012 James Cook University is offering a Bachelor of Sustainability degree in 2012 that will cover business, social sciences and science. Could it in include a Permaculture Design Course? Suzy Keys The move towards Sustainability at JCU is now firmly underway with a new undergraduate degree in 2012. In 2012 a Bachelor of Sustainability is being offered to students at James Cook University for the first time, and is being promoted as an “innovative and multidisciplinary undergraduate degree designed to give its graduates an employment edge in the market for sustainability practitioners. While the degree is being immersed in local tropical ‘green’ industries, it is also portable enough to be globally useful.” The university has announced that it “is building on its leading reputation in Environmental Science and Management and its recognition as an international incubator for sustainability research”. Core subjects include; Fundamentals of Biology, Environmental Processes and Global Change, Human Geography, Introduction to Sustainability, Science: Nature and Understanding and Human Rights and Social Issues. Majors can be obtained in Business, Science and Social Sciences and while the subjects are chosen from several existing undergraduate degrees, there are five new subjects that have been created for the degree. These are The Case for Sustainability, Sustainability in Practice, Introduction to Sustainability, Human Geography and a science major subject, Strategic Management.

Certificate which could be run as a block subject or as a 13 week course. Either way, the design system espoused by Photos: Suzy Keys Permaculture provides a holistic design system with which to embed the other subjects. In fact it could be undertaken as a first year subject to make sustainability more real and practical and not just another academic exercise.

Permaculture Design Certificate missing

The perfect person to teach this is JCU law student at the Cairns Campus, Janet Millington. Janet has taught the Permaculture Design Certificate or PDC as it widely known, to hundreds of students around Australia, has designed the National Curriculum for Schools and co authored Outdoor Classrooms, A Handbook for School Gardens in 2010. She is also the president of Permaculture Cairns and an ideal candidate to teach the PDC at JCU.

The thing that appears to be lacking in my view is a Permaculture Design

While the Bachelor of Sustainability is too late for people like myself who wanted

TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia

this degree to be available three years ago, it’s available now and that’s a start.

Finding new ways of thinking My hope is that it will be continually refined and designed to meet the needs of future graduates in a complex, socially and technologically interconnected world. Let us hope that close examination of various carbon trading systems and new ways of thinking systemically are added. Why not try designing new economic systems that actually reflect reality instead of slavishly adhering to GDP and CPI indexes which are manipulated to hide real costs. If new models find their way onto the menu of sustainability offerings from JCU, it can truly claim to lead in sustainability research. For more info: http://sustainability.jcu.edu.au/features/ new-courses.html new-courses.html

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JCU efforts wins TEFMA Innovation award S

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On the Cairns campus the building footprint is expected to double between 2010 and 2015 and the campus has already outgrown the capacity of its existing services infrastructure. A major upgrade is underway at a cost of more than $18 million to ensure the campus is energy efficient and costs are minimised. In their submission to TEFMA, Mr Connell and Mr Frost cited the success of the projects on the Townsville campus such as the Central District Cooling system, which is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and incorporates highefficiency chillers, sophisticated controls and large-scale thermal energy water storage for cooling. “The CDC system and other services infrastructure is linked to each building via a central spine of underground service trenches across the campus,” they said.

James Cook University’s integrated approach to energy management has won a prestigious innovation award from an association that covers tertiary institutions in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore. Adam Connell

science, business, law and social sciences.”

The University’s Executive Director (Finance and Resource Planning), Mrs Tricia Brand, said the award was a welcome recognition of the efforts being undertaken at JCU’s major campuses in Townsville and Cairns.

In their submission to TEFMA, the University’s Environment Manager, Mr Adam Connell, and the Infrastructure Services Manager, Mr Dennis Frost, said that JCU was providing a powerful multipronged approach towards reducing energy consumption.

“It comes on top of the University winning the 2010 Australian Business Award for Environmental Sustainability,“ Mrs Brand said. In the past few years we have embarked on an ambitious energy management program and it is already realising major cost savings and reduced our greenhouse emissions. “The University has also launched a new degree course in sustainability with a Bachelor of Sustainability which includes subjects in 7

The Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association (TEFMA) Innovation Award is presented every two years and previous winners have included Monash University and the University of Melbourne.

“The co-ordinated program focuses on demand management, energy efficiency and, through its sustainability program, staff behavioural change to reduce energy wastage,” they said. JCU’s Douglas campus in Townsville is experiencing a rapid building expansion program increasing its air-conditioned floor-space from 70,000 square metres in 2006 to a predicted 133,900 square metres by 2015.

Air-conditioning accounted for 50 to 60 per cent of the total electricity consumed on the campus. The implementation of the Infrastructure Master Plan reduced peak demand by 4.5mw or 40 per cent and a 25 per cent reduction in total energy use with major savings in costs and CO2 emissions. JCU has also launched its sustainability program, TropEco, which aims to actively involve staff and students in sustainability related activities to change the culture and raise awareness within the University community over the coming years. TropEco is focused on large scale behavioural change by providing fun and challenging activities and programs for staff and students such as sustainable transport options; reducing energy and water consumption; recycling and waste; enhancing the unique campus biodiversity and environments; food sustainability; Green College competitions; a Green Intern program and the development of a Sustainability Working Group.

TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia


A passion for the environment S

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Each edition TropEco will do a story on someone who is making a difference at JCU in environmental sustainability. Our first story is about Janet Dearden who is having a huge influence on bringing about positive change to JCU’s operations. Adam Connell

Janet Dearden is someone with a passion for the environment and it shows in her efforts toward creating a more sustainable future at JCU. Janet is a Policy Officer for Governance & Corporate Services within the University Services Division, but in her spare time she has been working tirelessly on several projects to help improve the sustainability of JCU’s practices.

So what makes someone so passionate about these issues? Janet grew up in northern England, close to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks and said her parents had a big influence on how she sees the world. “They loved to go walking in the countryside and the national parks, and instilled in me a real love and appreciation for the natural environment,” Janet says. “I’m especially passionate about climate change and preserving forests”, added Janet. “I’m particularly concerned about the loss and fragmentation of the tropical rainforests in north Queensland, and the threat to the cassowary population as a result of both habitat fragmentation and the effects of Cyclone Yasi.” After Cyclone Yasi, Janet worked toward setting up a scheme for JCU staff to donate money to the Cassowary Fund through the charity, Rainforest Rescue. TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia

Janet also has a wealth of academic experience behind her. She has completed her BA in Geography at Oxford University, and then did a Grad Dip of Arts (in Geography and Politics) at JCU. More recently, Janet completed a Grad Certificate in Sustainability at Swinburne University of Technology, which helped refine her skills in this area. One of the group assignments for this course saw Janet working on a change management plan to implement a project related to sustainability. The group chose to work with TropEco to develop a plan to implement a food digestion unit at Uni Halls, which converts food waste to a liquid biofertiliser. Although the project only needed to be theoretical, it is now coming to fruition with the Bio-Regen Unit being installed in October this year, being the first of its kind in Australia. Janet and her group’s work were largely responsible for the project being implemented and the smooth transition with JCU staff. But Janet’s influence doesn’t stop here. Earlier this year, Janet put together a Sustainability Taskforce to develop an Environmental Sustainability Action Plan for the University Services Division.

After a lot of hard work it is now ready to implement. “The Plan has recently been approved, and so now we need to begin the much bigger task of implementing it”, says Janet. “I’m hoping we can establish a network of Sustainability Champions within the Division to help create a momentum for change.” From Janet’s pioneering work, the Division of Finance and Resource Planning, JCU’s other major operational division, has also followed suit, developing a similar plan, based on USD’s, that is close to being approved. This means the two divisions that have an influence over JCU’s operations will both have Environmental Sustainability Action Plans in place next year, due largely to Janet’s work in developing the initial plan for USD. When asked what Janet thought JCU could do better in terms of its sustainability she had some great insights. “I think the implementation of the TropEco program at JCU has made a big difference.  However, if I were to pick two areas where the University can easily do more – it would be in terms of switching to recycled paper and reducing the amount of flying. Cont’d page 10

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Tim Silverwood: “Is your life too plastic?” Plastic pollution in our oceans is a major environmental issue that is being largely ignored around the globe. Tim Silverwood visited JCU recently to give a public lecture, on his journey to illustrate the effects humans are having on our environment through our addiction to plastic consumption.

Adam Connell He seems like a regular, everyday, laid back, Australian guy, but Tim Silverwood is a man on a mission, and a very worthy mission at that. The surfer, come documentary maker, come environmental campaigner has developed a passion for our environment and in particular taking action on plastic pollution of our oceans. Tim has seen the destruction humans are having on our ocean environment, firsthand, both at his local Sydney beach and more recently on a research vessel from Honolulu to Vancouver via the the North Pacific Garbage Patch to research the extent of oceanic plastic pollution. Tim tells the audience about his recent visit to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an area of ocean in the North Pacific twice the size of France that contains billions of pieces of floating plastic debris, ranging from microscopic particles up to bottles, buoys and large ghost nets. The research vessel conducted research into the proliferation of plastic in this area, by trawling for plastic debris and identifying what was actually out there. Much of the plastic had broken into tiny pieces but some items were obvious such as toothbrushes and plastic toy figurines. “Plastic is a huge issue in our oceans because it never breaks down”, states Tim. “It just keeps breaking into smaller and smaller pieces that are digested by marine creatures in huge volumes”. Becoming part of the local Showing proof of this in his presentation, Tim 9

shows numerous pictures of dead or injured marine animals as a direct result of plastic pollution. One that is particularly disturbing is a photo of a dead Laysan Albatross chick with numerous pieces of plastic in its stomach including a cigarette lighter, several bottle caps, a comb and many other unidentified plastic pieces. Even more disturbing is that these chicks live at Midway Atoll, one of the most remote islands in the world. The chicks died from ingesting plastic, fished from the ocean by their parents and mistaken for food. To see more on this devastating problem check out the harrowing trailer by Chris Jordan - http://vimeo.com/ 25563376. We are also seeing the same problem on Lord Howe Island, 900km off the coast of Australia, with Flesh-Footed Shearwater chicks dying from plastic ingestion. One chick was found with 276 pieces of plastic in its stomach, representing 15% of its body mass, the equivalent of a human having 12kg of plastic inside them. On this Tim says, “Innocent creatures are eating OUR plastic waste, there is no denying that this plastic came from the East Coast of Australia. It makes me embarrassed, shameful and downright angry. We have to do something.”

Closer to home, we are seeing turtles ingesting large amounts of plastic, often mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish. One turtle found dead near Ballina, NSW had 317 pieces of plastic in its stomach. The plastic is primarily killing turtles in two ways, by either cutting up their digestive tract when ingesting sharp pieces of plastic or blocking the digestive tract by acting like an indigestible plug. But Tim tells us there is an even more sinister and lesser known issue with plastic pollution - the accumulation of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) on plastic floating in the oceans. These are nasty chemicals, resistant to biodegradation, which have the ability to accumulate in living tissue. Research has shown that POPs have the ability to bind to plastics in the oceans. What is really scary is POPs binding to microscopic plastic particles which are then ingested by plankton and small fish. These are then eaten by larger fish, birds and marine mammals such as whales and dolphins in large quantities, with the result being bioaccumulation of the POPs up the food chain, possibly leading to dangerous levels in the animal’s tissues. So what can be done about this major environmental problem? Well not a lot about the plastic that is already out there. Cont’d page 10

TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia


Is your life too plastic?

A passion for the environment Cont’d from page 8

Use recycled paper and fly less

Cont’d from page 9 Tim says we need to look at the source of the problem - our throw away lifestyle and the way we design plastic products. “When we throw something away, there is NO away, it’s out there in the environment, and in the case of plastic, it’s out there forever”, Tim states. So next time you go to the supermarket and take home a handful of plastic bags, or buy a drink in a plastic bottle, first think: Do I really need this? Is there a better way? And think twice about how you’re going to dispose of the plastics you can’t avoid, because it’s going to be around for thousands of years. Maybe it’s time you did away with all the single use plastics in your life for the sake of our environment. Tim was also in Townsville to promote the screening of the multi award winning film Bag It, a film about the effects of plastics on our waterways, oceans, and bodies. Thanks to the Sea Turtle Foundation and Reef Check for bringing Tim to Townsville in conjunction with TropEco. Tim has kindly allowed TropEco to publish the video of his presentation to the TropEco website. To see it, go to http://www.jcu.edu.au/tropeco/about/ JCU_086249.html To find out more about Tim’s campaign or Bag It go to: timsilverwood.com or www.bagitmovie.com

“At the moment, the Uni purchases paper which is made by logging forests, including native forests, and in doing so we’re contributing to the destruction of our natural environment.  We could easily stop this by purchasing recycled paper instead.  Whilst this paper is slightly more expensive, if we also made an effort to reduce the amount of paper used, then the switch to recycled paper could be cost-neutral – and we’d be acting in line with the University’s stated commitment to sustainability.” “In relation to flying, it probably constitutes a large portion of the University’s carbon footprint, yet we don’t actually measure it, and probably mostly we don’t think about it.  I’d propose that we fly less frequently and less readily, though I know that this is never a popular proposal.  But it would help if we started to measure the carbon emitted when we fly on the University’s behalf (some other Unis already do this) because that would give us a benchmark and a more realistic idea of the University’s carbon footprint.  And of course reducing flying would also save staff time and University money – so perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad after all.” Janet feels that one of the best things staff can do to get involved is to become a Green Rep through TropEco. “It’s much easier to be motivated and proactive when you’re connected to a group of people who are all working towards the same objective,” shared Janet. “Of course, I’d also encourage USD staff to consider becoming a Sustainability Champion. It’s not necessary to be an expert in sustainability – you just need some energy and enthusiasm to make a difference.”

TropEco, James Cook University, Tropical Queensland, Australia

Did you know? 1. Recycling just one aluminium can saves enough energy to power a television for three hours 2. JCU recycles over 1 tonne of batteries through Battery World p.a. 3. You can earn prizes and rewards for recycling cans and plastic bottles at JCU by using Envirobank <http:// www.jcu.edu.au/tropeco/ sustainatjcu/recyclingwaste/ JCUPRD1_071447.html> 4. Approximately 88% of energy is saved by producing plastic from plastic as opposed to plastic from the raw materials of oil and gas 5. JCU reuses its second hand furniture within the University or donates unwanted items to charity 6. Producing 20 aluminium cans by recycling uses the same amount of energy as 1 can produced from virgin material 7. It takes 125 recycled plastic milk bottles to manufacture a 240 litre wheelie bin from recycled plastic 8. Plastics are the most common rubbish item found on Clean Up Australia Day, representing over 30% of all rubbish collected over the past 10 years 9. JCU reuses most of its green waste by mulching it and putting it back on our garden beds 10. Plastics never break down and remain in our environment for thousands of years

Thank you to those that submitted entries for the Blue Marble competition.

The winner, with several outstanding entries, was Suzy Keys from our Cairns Campus. Well done Suzy on your entries. Suzy will receive a nights’ accommodation for two people at an eco resort near Cairns to the value of $200. Other entries will receive a GMagazine subscription. Some of Suzy’s entries can be found on the back page. 10


"Win one of 5 G-Magazine subscriptions" Check out the October/November issue for

the Green Renovation Special. There’s a great guide on setting your home up with a couple of CHOOKS, PLUS a guide on Rainwater TANKS. Meanwhile, explore the organic and sustainable side of BALI along with some natural solutions for beating those springtime ALLERGIES.

FIVE randomly selected students who like our facebook page will win a FREE Subscription to G-Mag http://www.facebook.com/tropeco.james.cook.university

Winner of TropEco July/Sept. Blue Marble Competition

‘Harnessing the sun’

TropEco Blue Marble Competition

Blue Planet and Blue Moon

Green Planet The Cambrian Age


TropEco News - Second Edition