Julie Graham is Positive Earth’s content wizard who enjoys delving deep into the world of sustainability and keeping her finger on the pulse of the latest trends and developments.
Julie spent most of her 20s living and traveling in and around South East Asia where she worked in the world of performing arts, education and women’s rights. After almost a decade, she returned to South Africa to pursue her passion for writing and traveling. She spent 5 years working as a successful travel journalist, exploring new destinations and cultures and meeting hugely inspiring people along the way. This led her to a career in travel and seeking out innovative ways to make exploring the world a sustainable endeavour.
Julie thrives off adventure and is passionate about animals, conservation and the ocean. She also has a secret addiction to crossword puzzles.
When she is not behind her laptop, you probably won’t find her because she’ll be off the grid…
What does sustainability mean to you?
For me, the whole concept of sustainability comes down to one thing: compassion. At its core, compassion is defined as the recognition of suffering in another and the motivation to prevent or alleviate that suffering. In Buddhist classical teachings, it is described as “the heart that trembles in the face of suffering”. Compassion is selfless. It is setting aside our own interests for another, and experiencing a situation from another point of view. It is the greatest act of humility.
Sustainability is all about making choices that impact the lives of others. It is about healing, sustaining and nurturing the environment. The ultimate goal of sustainability is to ensure the future of all life on Earth. It’s not about proving that we are better or more important. It’s about addressing suffering and working together to make a lasting difference.
It is the ultimate expression of compassion.
You’ve done quite a lot of traveling to some pretty exotic places! What is the one place you’ve visited that has made a significant impact on you?
Definitely the Amazon jungle in Las Piedras, Peru.
I have always been fascinated with the Amazon. Not only is it undoubtedly the world’s most important, biodiverse ecosystem, it is also a significant player in the global climate, and home to some of the last uncontacted tribes on Earth – vulnerable, indigenous people who hold vast amounts of ancient knowledge and wisdom about the medicinal uses of plants and the inner workings of nature. A knowledge that needs to be safeguarded. As forests burn and global warming worsens, the impact is undoing the fragile processes of nature that have been refined over millions of years.
I spent six days deep in the jungle, learning everything there is to know about the plants and animals. I met Samir, a tracker and shaman from the Ashaninka tribe who I went climbing, crawling and stumbling through the dense jungle with, encountering spider monkeys, fire ants, and all kinds of exotic creatures and medicinal plants. I met Rustos, an ex-logger who laid down his chainsaws in favor of conserving and protecting the rainforest. I climbed to the top of a giant Ironwood tree to the immense rainforest canopy, and watched bright macaws gather in their hundreds at the clay licks on the river. I admired huge Brazil nut forests and cocoa plantations, listened in awe at the cacophony of the rainforest symphony day and night, and visited local communities to share stories and learn about sustainable farming practices.
It definitely lit a fire inside of me, and that fire has never stopped burning.
What are the sustainable New Year’s resolutions you are adopting for 2022?
- Practice compassion! This will ultimately affect most of my choices. Where to shop, what to eat, what to spend my energy on, how to react to the world around me… the list goes on.
- Spend more time in nature.
If you could host a dinner party and invite three guests – dead or alive – who would they be and why?
The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, and the formidable first lady of television, Betty White.
All three of these extraordinary humans embody all the ideals of compassion, joy and kindness. There is so much to learn from them.
Also… can you just imagine the giggle fest at dinner?