This month we are featuring a new blog post by environmentalist and marine scientist Gillian Starling. Gillian has contributed a number of posts to our website already this year as she takes part in #HB4, the fourth Homeward Bound program for women working in STEMM. Gillian was selected to be one of 100 women from across the globe to take part in this program, which culminates in an expedition to Antarctica at the end of the year. Global Leadership Foundation is proud to be sponsoring Gillian in this endeavour.

For those who have been following my Homeward Bound journey, I am now halfway through the 12-month program. The past six months have included virtual lectures and meetings, group work, personal coaching, readings and homework. The training is grouped around four themes: leadership, strategy, visibility and collaboration. Two of the ‘strategy’ and ‘visibility’ items I have been working on have centred on answering the questions ‘What is my message?’ and ‘What do I want to change?’

I’ve written before about how one of my goals in participating in Homeward Bound is to strengthen my voice to make a difference around how we manage and care for the environment. But I also want to inspire others to do what they can do too, simply because everything any of us does, big or small, counts.

It can be overwhelming when we continually hear about how bad the problems facing our environment are. Do we address climate change, or pollution, or population growth, or species extinctions? Which one first, or do we need to do all at once? Can any one person really make a difference?

To that last question, I want to remind you that the answer is definitively YES! In fact, the difference will only come from all of us acting together as individuals because none of us is influential enough to do it all ourselves.

Personally, I am most passionate about the marine environment and everything in it. While – of course – I recognise climate change as a huge social, environmental and health issue, I feel I’m best placed do something about the impacts it will have on the marine environment – and those dependant on it.

The approach I like best comes from a resilience perspective. If you can help keep an ecosystem healthy (much like our own immune system), it will be better able to cope with the effects of climate change and other threats. From the point of view of protecting our marine environment, that means we need to keep our waterways clean, reduce pollution, cut out plastics and have healthy, well-managed fisheries.

These are all things that each of us can make a contribution towards. Below are a few actions that you could take, most of them daily, to help maintain a healthy, happy environment. Hopefully there is at least one of them you can commit to in the knowledge that you are also making a positive change.

  • Choose sustainable fish when you are shopping or out for a meal.
  • Take a Plastic Pledge and reduce the plastic in the ocean. It is going to be Plastic Free July – can you do it too?
  • Eat less meat – especially beef – to reduce your carbon emissions.
  • Turn off lights and other switches when they’re not being used.
  • Walk/cycle/use public transport rather than driving.
  • Reduce/reuse/recycle.
  • Insulate your home.
  • Install solar panels on your home.

I believe one of the most important things we can do together is to take collective action. We all need to keep pressure on governments to change the way we manage our precious environment –everything from our World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef to our local areas.

Sir David Attenborough has said, ‘If we give the earth a chance – it will recover’. I firmly believe the same thing … but we MUST give it that chance.

My commitment through my participation in Homeward Bound continues to be to do what I can to create change at all levels.

Will you join me?


Once again I’d like to thank Global Leadership Foundation for their support of me on this journey. I’m now within reach of my fundraising goal and as a final effort I’ve set up an online fundraising page here: If you would like to support me it would be sincerely appreciated.

Read past and future posts by Gillian here.

Photo by Ray Aucott on