Julie Astonis, an Australian housewife from Brisbane, and her communities North Lakes, have stood out from hundreds of other communities in the Best Master- planned Community Competition, and ranked as Redcliffe’s top ten best community.

Days before the 42th World Earth Day, Xinhua reporter made a special trip to visit Julie, in a move to expand understanding on the practices general Australian families do to protect the environment.

Even though Autumn has been approaching Brisbane in April, we can still see colorful blooming flowers in Julie’s exquisite little garden while Julie greeted us from her front-yard.

Speaking of the top ten best community honor, Julie is very proud to say, “in our community, each of us has a beautiful yard.”

“There have been a deep rooted awareness of environmental protection, from children to elderly people. The whole community takes care of the environment as if they are taking care of the own garden,” she told Xinhua reporters.

For example, she said, when people in the community walk their dog, they would always carry a garbage bag to deal with the dog’s excrement.

“In our community, you will never experience the embarrassment of stepping on the dirty waste while you are walking on the grass, ” Jolie said with a smile, “Taking care of the dog’s waste can also help to cultivate children’s sense of responsibility!”

Also, Julie said the diverse variety of plants being displayed on each front-yard has been one of the unique characteristics of the community to win the competition.

Gardening is the most popular club in our community,” Julie said, “A lot of retirees who has enthusiasm into gardening did not just regularly organize gardening lectures, but they will also personally visit families in the community to provide gardening training.

“So you can see that flowers continues to blossom in our gardens throughout the year, which makes it a pleasure and enjoyment just to have a walk in our community.”

In a move to protect water resources, the Australian Government has imposed strict irrigation restriction on families. When asked where does the residents get these irrigation water from, Julie pointed to a hugh water tank hidden in the garden.

“We certainly would not use tap water to irrigate the flowers!” she said, explaining that almost every family in the community will have a hugh tank used to store rainwater. The rainwater will then be used as the resources of all outdoor water use, including car washing and watering the garden.

Julie said, “this year, we also specifically asked people to connect the water tank with our flush toilets, so they could save the use of tap water.”

Julie has two daughters, a 7-year-old, a 9-year-old, both are studying primary school in the community.

When talk about them, Julie could not help but smile a touch of mouth, saying that “my two children are very sensible, we would encourage them to treat the environment as their friends, and for now, their environmental awareness is even stronger me and my husband.”Julie pointed to the primary school’s effort, as it has often organized environmental protection activities, such as asking the children and parents to claim a small tree together; during the annual World Water Day, World Maritime Day and other environmental festivals, the school will also encourage students to do more things that are beneficial to the environment, and ask them to write that on a paper to share experience with other students.

Australia is a beautiful country, with the children grew up here, they have a sense of intimacy with the nature, and what we have to do is to encourage and guide them to this passion,” she said. “I believe that children who grow up in a beautiful natural environment will have stronger psychological health.”

While the annual World Earth Day will be held in a few days, Julie said environmental protection is not an one day event, instead she said “every day should be Earth Day, and everyone should be environmental protection volunteers”.

Meanwhile, Australians’ enthusiasm on environmental protection has also been felt by many Chinese people living in Australia.

University of Queensland’s Vice President of Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars, Jian Xu, who has been in Australia for more than two years, said the deepest experience he has in Australia is the harmony between man and the nature.

“Almost every week we can see environmental protection demonstrations being held in the busiest locations of the urban areas,” he told Xinhua, adding that there have been volunteers dressed as a wounded seal in Queensland’s main street last week, in a move to protest against killing of seals.

A year ago, Xu took part in the environment volunteer projects, which was organized by Australia’s Environmental Protection Association to target on international students.

The project involved marine life experts and professional environmentalists, who led student from around the world to experience human activities’ impact on the marine environment.

Through participating the event, Xu said the Australian Government has effectively used these activities to spread the concept and knowledge of environmental protection to its own people, as well as people around the world.

After returning to his home country, Xu said he hopes to become a volunteer environmentalists, and will make good use what he has learn in Australia to contribute to environmental protection in China.

World Earth Day was originated in the United States. On April 22, 1990, two billion people from more than 140 countries worldwide has participated in a variety of environmental protection activities, and called for improving the overall global environment.

On April 22, 2009, the 63rd United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to formally named April 22 each year as World Earth Day.
(Source: Quotemedia)

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