“I am passionate about connecting young people with nature and motivating environmental stewardship. Growing up in Germany near the border of Holland in an old university town, it was always considered just a part of life to recycle, to bring your own bag when you go shopping and to ride your bike everywhere. We never knew any different. I’ve just started working with the sustainability team at Kunyung Primary School, which focuses on things like energy usage, waste, vegie gardens, chooks and composting so that the kids can take the message home to the parents. This is where to start. Getting the kids involved in the bigger picture stuff from early on works.”
Birte, her husband Darryl and their two children Max and Henri are outdoors people. Hiking. Biking. Beaching. Living their lives as sustainably as possible. Birte brings years of experience and education to the environmental platform. She has a Masters in Sustainable Destination Management and Majors in geography, marketing, development, market research and business from the University of Paderborn, Germany. She also has a Bachelor of Technology with first class honours in Ecotourism from Flinders University, Adelaide — so she’s got the knowledge to bring about true environmental change on a local level. She continues.
“I discovered my ‘why’ early on. I remember going to a seal rescue station in the Northern Seas in Germany at about 10 years old. There had been an oil spill and I saw the effects first-hand. The seals and birds were covered with oil. That was it really. I started writing to the German Chancellor about the importance of protecting our marine life. I have always been connected to the sea and have turned my passion into a career, freelancing with a number of organisations to develop sustainable business practises and engage customers through meaningful experiences. When I first came to Australia about 20 years ago after meeting my now husband, we lived and worked in Adelaide, then I took a job as ecotourism specialist with Tourism Queensland and later as manager of events and visitor attraction at Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service in Queensland.”
Back on the Peninsula, Birte oversees Mount Eliza beach cleans under the Beach Patrol Australia umbrella on the last Sunday of each month. “It has been well-received since we began in 2018. We have around 400 active members on our social media platforms and people from all walks of life including many families come and help at different times. It doesn’t take long and makes a real difference,” she continues. Check out Mt Eliza Plastic Free at mtelizaplasticfree on Facebook to become part of a community forum that ‘encourages, educates and celebrates improved resource use and works toward zero single plastic bag use’.
Landfill in Australia is very high per capita compared with many European nations. One of Birte’s goals is to reduce the reliance on single-use plastics here, which includes introducing a container deposit scheme that’s already in operation in other states. It may be a long way to the top of the ever-growing pile of waste accumulating in our waterways, but Birte has hope. “Small steps can make a huge difference and everyone plays an important part. Think global. Act local.”
If you would like advice on how to further your sustainability journey in 2019, give Birte a call on 0478 597 373 to see how you can colour your world with green. Or blue.