Joe Bellissimo's life changed when his son, Maximus, was born. A month later, he's leading a more sustainable lifestyle and he’s calling for others to join him. Including the big guys.
But why? Here’s what he told us.
“My goal is to find a way to protect 10 million trees from deforestation in places such as Indonesia and Peru,” he said.
“The reason I feel so strongly about this is that I have a one-month-old son.
“And I've been blind to the effects of our western lifestyle on the environment so I began asking myself OK, how can I make a real difference?”
“I want to show my son that it’s achievable to have a sustainable lifestyle in the 21st century.
“I want to demonstrate through actions, not through words.
“I want the animals in the books I read as a child to still exist when he learns to read.”
He believes it’s possible to make a difference by taking small steps. “You don’t need to do something huge to achieve sustainability in this world, it only takes a 2 millimetre shift.
“For example, if you eat meat four times a week and make the change to only eat it three times a week, the reduction of methane emissions and the amount of food and medicine going into livestock would fall dramatically.”
He said so far, he and his fiance Sok Leang Meach, have already made several far-reaching changes to their lifestyle.
“I'm downsizing and sharing our home, I'm converting my family to a plant based diet,
“I'm adopting more natural and sustainable skincare and cleaning products in our home.
“I'm investigating ways to cultivate my own vegetables and I’ve found a way to save trees as part of my job.
“These things have a number of benefits. For example by changing our diet reduces our footprint and risk of heart disease.
“There’s also weightloss – since changing my diet in six weeks I’ve lost 10 kilos!
“And just by having more people living in the same household, economies of scale kick in.
“You’re only using one refrigerator for four people. I have a problem with the way society works now where no one shares anything.
“We will also downgrade our cars. Bigger cars create more emissions.
“We’ll never by a brand new car again – used cars will be the only way to go.”
However, he said they’re still taking little steps. “I’m not going to use fabric nappies and get rid of wipes. If I can find a better alternative, I will. But when it comes to mess and poop, it’s already a tough journey,” he said with a chuckle.
As for work, he said he’s still devising a pitch to ensure his job is more sustainable. “I work in the sustainability field for LED Lighten and sell LED lighting products. Anyone who invests in it get their money back from the energy savings and get a reduced bill.
“This means any business will save money, have cheaper entry cost and will therefore reduce the load on coal-power plants, the amount on the grid and consumption in the replacement of light globes.
“The government actually gives rebate to companies who want to support this activity.
“But the thing I find questionable is when did we go from helping out the environment to it being all about compliance and paperwork? It no longer speaks the same language as the original intent of the program.”
“So I thought, if we could take just one per cent of what we do and redirect that into countries where palm oil is prevalent or where there’s deforestation, one dollar has a massive affect in those areas.
“I understand you have to do things that make financial sense so what else can we offer to companies who don’t care about saving a few thousand by switching to LED lighting?
“If we can add a way to help them save trees, it is of value to their corporate responsibility role and it’s a fantastic PR activity. I hope it will provide extra motivation.
“I hear from a lot of people that chief executive officers and big business just don't care.
“But I refuse to believe this.
“They have children, too. They have eyes and ears and they know that working towards a happy healthy environment benefits all of us.”