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May 28, 2018 | by  | in Editorial |
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Editor’s Letter

I think the reason that it can be hard to care about sustainability is that the planet seems fucked, and we’re all really scared.

We’ve been living with this burden for our whole lives, right? We’re the generation that was taught science in primary school by learning about plastic pollution, animal extinction, and how to explain carbon cycles to our climate-denying uncle. If you tuned out during those classes then I won’t judge you, because I did too. It’s so much easier to be apathetic about the state of our Earth than to get involved in the business of trying to fix it, because it’s paralysing to consider where to start.

On the flip side though, it’s so easy to care too much. How do you stop yourself from being consumed with the task of trying to fix every environmental sin? How do you prevent your life from becoming a montage of the times when the barista accidentally made your coffee in a plastic cup instead of your KeepCup and you started crying, sitting alone in the middle of a busy Auckland strip mall at 1am, because you felt guilty about exploiting the planet for your bougie flat white habit?

During this Sustainability Week, I hope the weight of the task that we’re saddled with can be shared more evenly; that if you’re on the forefront of environmental change, you feel comforted in the knowledge that you’re not doing it alone; but that if you didn’t before, you now feel empowered to stand up for sustainability in your studies, during election time, in the supermarket, and in conversations with the people around you.

All of the great social movements had their roots in universities, and fundamentally, environmental issues are just social issues. They’re a symptom of the type of society we live in. The planet doesn’t care if sea levels rise, or if our air becomes unbreathable – we’re the ones who will suffer, and the ones who won’t be able to inhabit it anymore. All the better for the planet, since we’re the problem in the first place.

Let’s be part of the next great social movement. Let’s show our kids photos of how we stood up and we marched alongside the people that we loved, and we refused to be complacent. The photos will be shot on film, and we’ll have to explain to them how film photography made an illogical and inconvenient comeback in 2018, but our children are going to overlook this embarrassing aspect of alty student culture. No matter what happens, they’re going to be so grateful that we did our very best.

If you’re at this university it means you have access to an incredible amount of knowledge, and knowledge is an immensely powerful tool for change. It also might mean you have time to think deeply about what a sustainable future looks like, and to fight for it to be a reality. As students, we need to form alliances and we need to speak out; we need to support each other to be the best that we can be, and we need to be on the front lines of environmental justice.

In the words of climate activist Bill McKibben, who we interviewed this week: “Very few people on earth get to say: ‘I am doing, right now, the most important thing I could possibly be doing.’”
Laura and Beau

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He Tāonga

:   I wanted to write this piece, in order to connect to all tauira within the University, with the hope that we can all remind ourselves that we are a part of an environment which is valuable, no matter our culture, our beliefs or our skin colour. The ultimate purpose of this