Charles Sturt University logo
World Environment Day 2023

World Environment Day 2023


World Environment Day occurs on the 5th of June every year, with this year’s theme being #BeatPlasticPollution. Student Sustainability Advisor Jessie Simpson reflects back on her decision to study environmental science and management.

Written by Jessie Simpson

In the lead up to World Environment Day, I got to thinking about what got me into environmental conservation. I’m studying a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management specialising in Climate and Sustainability, so I take the whole issue pretty seriously.

In a climate and sustainability specialisation we learn a lot about how our Earth system’s work and especially how the different spheres (atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, pedosphere, and geosphere) work together to shape our climate.

We also have the focus of sustainability, so, we consider how we ensure that the beautiful, hospitable, rich environment that supports us now endures into the future so current and future life can thrive.

When I grow up, I would love to work in an environmental communication or education-based role, ideally outdoors and maybe in a marine environment. So that’s the how, what, and when of it. But I’ve never really considered where or why I’m so invested. So, let’s go on journey together as I try to nut it out.

A selfie of a young woman

Why do I care about the Environment?

There is not an animal I don’t like.

Not one animal.

Well…maybe I lie.

I like orcas, but you won’t convince me that they’re not sadists. Or that they’re not secretly far more intelligent than humans. There will eventually be an orca uprising. It will be understandable, they may save us all from the crimes of humanity, but they’ll be cruel tyrannical leaders.

It will be the second realisation of George Orwell’s famous quote “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” (the first realisation being in humanity’s dominion).  I’ve put a lot of thought into this issue, I register it as fact, we don’t need to discuss it any further here.

Alas I digress.

As I was saying I like all animals. Granted I think some are cooler than others. I put slugs quite low on my really long ladder of animals I like, and dogs right up near the top. My love of animals is I think, where my interest in our Earth’s system began.

I would do almost anything to not have to see another video of someone pulling a straw out of a clearly distressed turtle’s nose.

Or see another forest of trees flattened to an estate of houses whilst people tell me its progress and all I can think of is how many animals would have lost their homes or lives to this “progress”.

I would lose my favourite toe (yes, I have a favourite toe, what of it?) to not to have to hear another account of sea-animals washed up with stomach’s full of plastic or tangled in carelessly discarded fishing gear.

For reference’s sake, I mean not having to hear it or see it because it isn’t happening and not just not hearing or seeing it because I’ve gone blind and deaf. If it’s happening, I want to know about it so I can try to help change it, but what I long for is that these horrible man-made atrocities just weren’t occurring.

A young woman holding a gecko in the palm of her hand.

No, really – why do I care about the Environment?

Add to my love of animals, I love…

  • The smell of rain spattered soil.
  • The experience of a storm rolling in.
  • The feel of grass under my toes as I walk through bushland for no other reason than to experience how beautiful it all is or prove that I am physically capable.

Throw in a decent helping of guilt and a naïve attempt to erase my own personal environmental crimes (I still remember teenage me shoving rubbish into a garden bed in an act of defiance against my school for not putting bins in the area we sat, and I didn’t at the time grasp the enormity of the plastic problem) and there you have the big old mess of why I care about the environment.

Yes, you’re right.

My reasons are entirely self-serving.

But at the end of the day, I’m nothing if not self-interested. I think we all are at our core. But I think the entirety of human potential lies in our own personal self-interest.

It was human self-interest that got us into this mess, and I think that if we refocus that self-interest, it can probably be used to get us out of it, whilst still enabling us to pursue our “indisputable” right to “progress”.

A young woman looking over a cliffside at the ocean.

Investing in the Environment

I genuinely believe that if we invest in ourselves and our own personal experience, we will be less insecure about what it means to sacrifice for something else.

I’m tired of arguing with people with opposing views.

I’m tired of deep conversations about complex issues. I want to be able to embrace what is, as an animal of this earth that just lives and experiences what is around them.

Some may argue that that is already within my reach.

But personally, I think the reality of heat related disease or environmental toxicity, the prevalence of cancers which may or may not have an environmental component, the loss of nutrients from our food, or the over-consumption of rich decadent animal-based products leading to disease that we must self-medicate against might put a stopper in my self-care Saturday plans.

I guess what I am saying, is that I believe that the path to selflessness is found at the heart of selfishness. The two are not mutually exclusive.

So, I bet when you started reading this piece about World Environment Day you weren’t expecting a twisted grind down the path of my psyche with a trimming of philosophy, but I hope you’ve taken something from it.

My final offering is “protect the Earth or you might have to read something else I’ve written”. Unless you’re as deranged as I am and enjoyed this morsel, in which case “protect the earth and maybe I’ll bless you with a little more”.

[Graphic taken from the World Environment Day website.]
[Graphic taken from the World Environment Day website.]

Want to hear another student voice?

This is an SSAF funded initiative
Write for Charlie Graphic