North Shore's MOTHER EARTH
Vera Yee likes to joke that she's becoming “an angry old woman”.
Despite making progress towards creating a better planet, she is still "very frustrated” with the slow advancement we are making towards a sustainable earth.
"We are lucky to live in Sydney on the beautiful North Shore," she muses. "Unfortunately, despite education and wealth, many residents are in denial about their daily impact on the planet."
Ms Yee recently was acknowledged for her outstanding environmental commitment in the latest North Sydney Council Sustainability Awards.
She has worked tirelessly over the past 20 years, founding projects like the Bag Share project, Sustainable Waverton, several bushcare groups, the local Streets Alive program, and the annual Universal Peace Day.
Her mission is to spread the word and "live a sustainable life”, which she does by making a personal commitment to reduce her ecological footprint.
"There is no need for plastic bags and water bottles and vegetables wrapped in plastic," she tells North Shore Living.
"We should be eradicating these from our daily lives. The Bag Share project was designed to help people with their shopping if they had forgotten their own bags and to discourage the use of so much plastic.
"Ms Yee’s work with bushcare and Streets Alive has helped to increase native corridors and green the local community."We should be planting more trees and shrubs to produce more oxygen," she states. For the past few years, the North Shore local has been meeting Waverton residents and participating in the Watmore Lane Streets Alive initiative, which takes place on vacant railway land. Initially, the area was full of rubbish, railway waste, gravel, metal, broken glass and litter - but over time, it has been transformed, with trees planted, seating, plants and paths made of recycled sandstone blocks.
"Everything has been recycled from the Waverton area, and in 2013, we had our first Peace Day in memory of the tragic events at Hiroshima. The word 'peace' has now been written in smooth stones on one of the rock platforms," Ms Yee confirms.
Over the past 10 months, more than 100 reusable bags have been introduced into the local community through the bag exchange and each one has the capacity to replace hundreds of plastic bags that would otherwise end up in landfill.
North Sydney mayor Jilly Gibson says the council is committed to improving the environment through sustainable initiatives and community-led projects that will make a difference for future generations.
"Many of these initiatives - like the ones started by Ms Yee -have translated into positive outcomes for the area," she says.
"Many people are afraid of change," Ms Yee says. "But we are all citizens of the world and we cannot be in denial any longer. We need strong global leadership in these areas but this is not happening.
"That's why what we are doing locally is important. It reminds us that 'acting locally and thinking globally' is so important. We have to start somewhere."