Where did Starting the Change come from?
It was a fairly warm and sunny day, I was walking along the North Island’s Takapuna Beach, many families picnic’d and played on the sand while many others frolicked in the waves. I picked up a piece of rubbish, I headed towards to bin, I picked up a handful more pieces on the way. I put them in the bin and headed back towards to water but by the time I got there my hand was full again so I detoured to the next bin. By the time I got there the other hand was full. This went on and on the whole length of the beach and back again. As someone who considered themselves an environmentally conscious person there was no way I could, in good conscience, acknowledge this problem and not do something about it so of course I did what everyone does when there’s a crisis… or a storm… or car crash… or a meal eaten… I took my thoughts to Facebook. I put a status out asking if any of my lovely friends would be keen to participate in regular beach cleans around the North Shore if I did all the organising and all they had to do was show up. The positive response was overwhelming so I contacted the Auckland Council, got rubbish bags and gloves lined up and chose my first location. Of course, despite the overwhelming number of people saying they would be keen, when it came down to it there was only 6 of us but we got stuck in anyway and when I got home I organised the next one. Again there was only a small group of us and it was somewhat disheartening, so I started to wonder if I was wasting my time. Then I came across the photo of the albatross I used in the article Death by Plastic and I knew that whatever difference I could make, no matter how small, was still a positive thing and far better than not doing anything, and so, Starting the Change was born.

So why a giraffe?

I started advertising on wider social media and soon enough, strangers were emailing to say they would love to attend. “Great”, I thought, “but I’ll need a way for them to recognise me.”  During exams earlier that year, a good friend and faithful Starting the Change member had given me a giraffe hat, to help me think (a bit of a joke between us), so straight away I knew that the giraffe hat was going to be my thing.

So there we have it, 3 seemingly insignificant moments leading up to a hopefully very significant project.

Who did the artwork?
That would be Laura Hodson, an artist from Hamilton, NZ (originally Northampshire, UK)

Since then:
Since the conception of Starting the Change, I have graduated from AUT with a Bachelors Degree majoring in Marine Biology and Environmental Science, I have been interviewed by the North Shore Times, hosted a community potluck dinner, been headhunted to co-ordinate two clean-ups for the Kaipatiki Project, and recently selected for a Birkenhead Rotary community award. Oh, and I work for AUT’s student association (AuSM) as their Sustainability Officer.

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