Practical Examples of Being an Active Global Citizen

by Narelle Webber on Tuesday, 20 October 2015

The ISV Program positively changes every volunteer. But how can you stay connected when you return home? (c) ISV

The ISV Program positively changes every volunteer, like these in the Dominican Republic. But how can you stay connected when you return home? (c) ISV

Narelle Webber is the co-founder of the ISV program and has served as ISV’s international program director for over 13 years. Read some examples from her own life about applying the values we believe in as an inherent part of the ISV volunteer and travel experience. 

At the end of every ISV volunteer project our project leaders will ask volunteers a question: “when you go home, how can you be a more active global citizen”?

This is a fundamental part of the ISV experience and a core part of ISV’s mission. Guided by ISV’s outstanding leaders, volunteers dedicate their time and efforts to locally-driven initiatives in their host country, and part of our goal is to nurture, inspire and facilitate an educational journey about sustainability. Ultimately, we want the ISV program to impact our volunteers for more than their finite time overseas; ideally the ISV program experience leaves our alumni feeling motivated and empowered to think, act and live as part of a sustainable planet.

ISV has a culture of learning and sharing. Our staff are always keen to explore ways in which they can live more sustainably too.

Here’s a few things I’ve done recently that I wanted to share with you. They are all quite easy to do, the hardest part is starting and deciding to make the change.

In Costa Rica, ISV volunteers help with sustainable agriculture projects. Why not compost at home too? (c) ISV

In Costa Rica, ISV volunteers help with sustainable agriculture projects. Why not compost at home too? (c) ISV

Reducing waste

At the ISV office in Sydney we’ve started up a compost using a Bokashi for our organic lunch leftovers.  At my own apartment block which we share with four other families/apartments, we ordered a compost bin from the local council. Many councils offer them for free, or at a really cheap price. It’s great to see the neighbor’s kids getting involved too!

Reducing energy consumption

First, I received an email from GetUp! (an Australian activist group) about an option to go with Powershop who are a provider of 100% renewable energy (solar and wind). In 20 minutes, all online, I was able to move from my current provider which is one of the “dirty three” largest energy providers in all of Australia have been identified as being the biggest polluters, biggest fossil fuel users who work to undermine change towards renewable energy. It was easy, and fast.

The Australian government has it's head in the sand; renewable energy is our future, not coal, so let's support it! (c) ISV

Like this giraffe, the Australian government has its head in the sand; renewable energy is our future, not coal, so let’s support it! (c) ISV

Second, I went along to a Greenpeace community workshop on renewable energy. A solar energy company was there called Sungevity, who enable you to install solar panels for zero upfront costs and you pay back the value of the panels over a period of 7 years.  I looked at an option for our communal spaces for my apartment block, and one for my own apartment. Subject to approvals, I can’t wait to have them installed to start generating my own energy!

Educating others

Leanne Roberts (ISV Australia’s Tour Manager) and I went to my niece’s primary school and gave a presentation to 5th and 6th graders (11 and 12 year old girls). The teacher wanted the children to hear about practical examples for “walking the talk”, with a focus on being ecologically responsible by taking action on environmental issues. We spoke about the ISV program, ISV mission, and our emphasis on responsible tourism and sustainable living. I really enjoyed seeing the children’s engagement in the topic and being able to share some information with them about topics we are passionate about. It was easy, and fun too.

Investing ethically

Australia has a mandatory employer-contribution scheme called superannuation (basically a retirement fund).  I sent an email to my fund manager, and simply said, I want to move toward more ethical investments. He gave me a call, and I was really pleased to hear that they already had a branch dedicated entirely to this area given the increasing demand.  I’ve made the swap and feel better that my super is being invested ethically.

We are all connected as citizens of one planet.  How can i stay connected

We are all connected as citizens of one planet, but it’s easy to disconnect once you return home from overseas.  Use social media to your advantage; keep learning about issues and ways you can make a difference (c) ISV

Maintain awareness of and staying educated about sustainability issues

I’m using social media to my advantage to keep up to date with local, national and global issues in sustainability. Some of the channels I subscribe to include Avaanz,, Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace, World Health Organisation, Conservation International, SumOfUs, GetUp! and the Wilderness Society, to whom I also donate money each month.  You can pick and choose which articles and updates to read, but it’s incredible that we live in a time where we can have information from all over the world at our fingertips at every minute of each day.  

Most recently, I’ve really enjoyed the youtube videos, articles and other sources of information that my terrific colleagues have been sharing so that we can all keep learning and growing as professionals working in this area of education, tourism and sustainable development. There’s something to be said for surrounding yourself by individuals who share the same values as you do, in your workplace and/or personal lives.

Of course we can all do more and should strive to think about ways to live more sustainably, but those are some things I’ve done just recently that I should have done years ago, although I have to say that in today’s society it’s getting easier and easier to find ways to do so.  Just make up your mind to change, and you can do it.

To learn more about ISV’s staff, our values and our programs, please visit our website today!





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