A growing number of Australians are making personal changes to their lifestyle to combat climate change, despite the country’s poor record.

The recent Earth Day 2022 Report by Ipsos found little progress had been made through individual action to make climate-friendly lifestyle changes, with confusion around which actions make the most impact on the environment.

The report was particularly scathing of Australia’s green credentials, saying Aussies were among the most resistant people in the world to making small lifestyle changes for the benefit of the environment. It claimed the most impactful action people can do is live car-free, with 49 per cent of the world’s population committing to this.

Sydney University student, Eve Krombas, lives car-free to reduce her carbon footprint and contribute to the reduction of climate change.

“I don’t see it as a sustainable move for me, I work around the need to not own a car and take public transport everywhere,” she told Central News.

“It does take longer and extends my travel time by a lot, but I’m willing to take public transport to decrease my carbon footprint.”

“I’m not going to blame people for their actions…I understand that society is structured to make people do these.”

Despite being the most effective action to reduce individual carbon emissions, the convenience of driving overrules committing to public transport, walking or cycling as the main form of transportation in Australia.

“I think the way that cities, suburban areas, and our societies in general, are designed to make people rely on needing a car to get around, and I don’t think it’s the individuals’ fault,” Krombas added.

The Ipsos survey results found the public believes there is a shared responsibility among government, businesses and individuals to tackle climate change, but Krombas said she believes a systemic change is needed to take control over the current climate crisis.

“I’m not going to blame people for their actions, whether they drive cars, eat meat or buy things firsthand, because I understand that society is structured to make people do these,” she said.

“It takes a lot of privilege, time and money to be able to live a sustainable and ethical lifestyle, so something needs to happen a lot higher up in our society for any kind of environmental change to happen.”

“As far as the cost, it’s more accessible to be worse to the environment.”

The report claims ‘buying fewer or more durable items’ is ranked as the 46th most impactful action, with ‘using less packaging’ ranked at 38. The global average for avoiding products with lots of packaging is at 58 per cent, with most people believing a low waste lifestyle is key to cutting their emissions.

Comedian and actress Veronica Milsom has taken steps to reduce her children’s carbon footprint by documenting her zero-waste journey through her podcast Zero Waste Baby.

“There were no ‘zero waste’ habits I was undertaking before my zero-waste mission at all, in fact the opposite, I had gone way too far with things like disposable wipes … I wouldn’t dream of doing that now,” Milsom told Central News.

“I wanted a project that would force me to change my habits so I was committing to something in particular, that would make me change some of my bad habits about the environment.”

Milsom decided to give birth and raise her newborn completely zero-waste, documenting her wins, struggles and advice through a podcast.

“For me, it was the feeling of powerlessness about the future for the next generations that inspired me to undertake this journey,” Milsom said.

“The fact that I was six months pregnant when the government was doing very little about climate change… there were bushfires ravaging the country, there were rainforests burning, it just felt like a pretty dire time, as it still does.”

As a passionate climate advocate, Milsom uses her social media platform to encourage others to live as zero-waste as possible.

“If every parent just switched to as many eco alternatives as they could manage that would be ideal,” she said.

Despite her rewarding zero-waste goal, Veronica also spoke about the challenges of going entirely zero-waste and expressed that this goal is not likely to be achieved by everyone.

“You certainly need time, energy, enthusiasm and money, apart from buying things second-hand, which is probably the cheapest aspect, things like reusable nappies are expensive,” she said.

“As far as the cost, it’s more accessible to be worse to the environment.”

“I am sacrificing my education to fight for my future, it is frustrating because it is not my responsibility to fix the world’s problems.”

High school student and School Strike 4 Climate participant Ethan Hill has made active changes to follow a climate-friendly diet. He and his family have decided to reduce their red meat and dairy intake, and maintain a low waste pantry, in order to reduce their individual carbon emissions.

As a student, Ethan does his best to make small sacrifices for the benefit of the environment but has said this can be a challenge.

“I still eat the same food as my family and we have all made a choice to reduce our impact as a whole… I don’t want to have to make my own dinner every night as a school student, so it is a bit of a sacrifice to reduce our impact, but not go all out,” the 17-year-old told Central News

Only 29 per cent of Australians are likely to reduce their dairy intake and 35 per cent are likely to eat less meat for the benefit of the environment, despite dietary alterations being one of the most effective ways to cut carbon emissions.

Ethan also takes time out of his school days to protest for government-level changes to reduce climate change with School Strike 4 Climate.

“I am sacrificing my education to fight for my future, it is frustrating because it is not my responsibility to fix the world’s problems,” he said.

The Ipsos survey revealed 68 per cent of the global population believes if their national government does make active changes to combat climate change now then it is “failing citizens”.

Director of Ipsos, Stuart Clark, said: “Despite a high public demand for government and businesses to take climate action, there is a lot of inertia to overcome in getting people to make changes in their own behaviours.

“It is very clear that many Australians are unable or unwilling to make changes to their lifestyles, and that we lag behind many other countries in this respect.”

Despite this, many Australians still believe that changes in government climate change policy are necessary for an effective reduction in climate change.

Featured image by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash