Beth Rad did not set out to study sustainable living. Nor did she plan to live on a remote Tasmanian island for six months. But these opportunities found her, and she’s glad they did.
Originally from Sydney, Beth and her partner quit their jobs a couple of years ago, sold their belongings and set off to travel around Australia for a year in their car and roof tent.
As they were passing through Darwin, they encountered another pair of travellers who were on their way to Tasmania to visit Maatsuyker Island lighthouse.
At this point Beth’s path shifted.
“I became obsessed with the idea of this lighthouse, I decided I had to go there.
“We both applied (to be volunteer lighthouse keepers) and flew from Darwin to Hobart for an interview. We convinced them that we were appropriate people to be marooned on an island together for six months, and then we did it.”
For six months 2020, Beth and her partner lived completely alone on Maatsuyker Island, working as winter caretakers for the historic buildings and doing regular weather observations for the Bureau of Meteorology.
And it was while in this wild isolation, with so few modern distractions, that Beth decided she had the time and headspace to study something online.
And having travelled through Australia and seen the environmental problems caused by extreme weather events firsthand, she knew sustainability was a crucial issue she wanted to dedicate herself to.
Signing up for the University of Tasmania's Diploma of Sustainable Living course online, Beth began her 18 months of study while living on Maatsuyker Island, studying subjects including backyard biodiversity, sustainable home and landscape design, the science of gardening, and living with fire.
We are at an extremely important point in Earth’s history at the moment and we all have an important part to play in the future of it. And you’re being given an opportunity to study, for free, to help implement change in your community.
Beth immediately started putting her new knowledge to use in her everyday life, which she said was a clear benefit of the course.
“Waste reduction is one of the greatest sustainability challenges we face but also one of the easiest for us all to contribute to.
“We now compost 100pc of our waste at home. We don’t even have a rubbish bin any more. We’ve changed our buying habits.”
Beth has also applied her knowledge of permaculture and gardening to the landscape design of her home. And her studies also helped her to land a paid internship with the University’s Sustainability Integration Program for Students.
This gave her the opportunity to spend three months researching and writing a report on how the Container Refund Scheme (due to begin in Tasmania late 2022) will impact the University's operations.
It’s amazing to think that a research project I did is now being reviewed by the sustainability team at the University and will help inform their decision making about adopting this scheme on campus.
Beth said the course empowered her to make change in her own life and taught her ways to encourage others to do the same. And, as the course is being offered HECS-free and entirely online, she said it was the perfect opportunity for anyone who wanted to learn more about this crucial topic.
“Navigating the course was easy and feeling motivated to do the course was also easy because it was so interesting. The content is curated really well, it was very engaging and it’s been a privilege to learn from an institution that is leading in this area.
“I’m definitely more informed and have my eyes wider open to the challenges we face and I’m also more inspired to make change.”
The Diploma of Sustainable Living is offered with a 100% HECS fee waiver, so you can study without tuition fees.