thanks to lily dempster, reducing your carbon footprint can be simple and fun
We find out how we can make the biggest impact possible, in partnership with Bank Australia.
Sometimes it feels like the actions we take to help the environment don’t make much impact in the grand scheme of things – but Lily Dempster is showing us we really can make a difference on a personal level. She’s the founder and CEO of the One Small Step app, which helps people reduce their carbon footprint by making simple, achievable changes that benefit the world around us in a big way.
Hi Lily! What led you to advocate for the environment? I became really concerned at university about climate change being the biggest social justice issue of our generation, so directed my degree into studying environmental law and policy.
How did you come up with the idea for One Small Step? I was working at GetUp, the activist group, as their market impact director and had been getting people to switch to carbon-neutral products online. I realised we have such high personal carbon footprints in Australia, the US, the European Union, and generally parts of the world where we have a really high income. I also realised there’s a big gap in the environmental movement when it comes to behavioural change as a component of climate change mitigation – that’s when I started to think about the need for something like One Small Step.
Why does our carbon footprint matter at a personal level? I used to think we’d need the entire population to make changes, so the best thing to do was policy reform. We definitely need policy reform, but we can also have a massive impact on carbon footprint reduction when we have a couple of thousand people working together. If we make more conscientious choices about our lifestyles and who we buy from, we can grow the market share and power of zero-carbon and low-carbon businesses. In terms of shifting consumer demand, that’s really necessary.
What prompted you to create your app? I built this app in part for myself, because I really cared about climate change and environmental sustainability, but was struggling to live according to my values. A common problem for people who care about climate change is knowing where to start and what’s going to make a difference. There can be this sense of disempowerment. So, One Small Step helps you identify the areas you can focus on in your life to make a meaningful impact, and supports you while you make those changesWhat can readers do in their own lives to benefit the environment? First up, download the app and it will ask you questions to get a sense of where your personal footprint is at – then, it’ll recommend high-impact programs you can work through, while supporting you along the way. There’s also a habit-tracking tool, where you can set reminders and see how your behavioural changes are making a positive impact collectively with other users. Some of the programs we’re running at the moment are focused on zero waste and integrating more plant-based foods into our diets, as well as everyday changes we can integrate almost immediately, like using a cold wash on the washing machine or trying to drive less and cycle more.
How have you personally reduced your carbon footprint? At a personal level, I’ve shifted to a super fund that’s fossil fuel-free. I’ve also chosen to bank with Bank Australia, because they’re the real deal and genuinely care about climate change and sustainability. They’re demonstrating you can have a financial institution that’s dedicated to creating good in the world, and I think that’s quite revolutionary. I’ve also switched my electricity to a carbon-neutral retailer, carbon offset my car with Go Neutral, and have been focusing on meal-planning a lot, which means I waste less food, eat more plant-based meals and buy locally.
This chat took place in partnership with Bank Australia, a B Corp-certified bank that won’t invest your moolah in environmentally harmful industries. The simple act of switching banks is a powerful way to be more sustainable in your everyday life. Learn more at bankaust.com.au/cleanmoney