Member profile: Campaigning for change in the west
We talk to Jenita Enevoldsen, Renew member, Perth branch co-convenor, and environmental campaigner, about what drives her.
Jenita Enevoldsen, currently on maternity leave from her job as the Wilderness Society’s state director for WA, was exposed early to environmental advocacy. “My mum made warm soup for the campaigners sleeping up trees in The Gully near our house in Brisbane, trying to stop it being cleared for development. We lost that fight, but the campaign was instrumental in securing Queensland’s land clearing laws in 2003.”
After studying marine biology, Jenita worked as a marine interpreter on Lady Elliott Island in the Great Barrier Reef and got firsthand experience of how community education and advocacy can make a big difference. “Unless there’s advocacy behind the best science and policy, it won’t be enacted and we won’t see change,” she says.
This led her—after gaining a qualification in environmental management and moving to Perth—to the Wilderness Society, where she has held various campaign-focused roles, notably helping establish six new marine parks in the Kimberley region and a national park for the Helena Aurora Range, one of the oldest banded ironstone ranges in WA.
With this career background, it’s not surprising that, when Jenita and her partner decided to take the step into home ownership after years of renting, they wanted as sustainable a home as possible. “We attended three or four Sustainable House Days and discovered Renew and its advocacy for climate-friendly homes,” she says. They built their own modest sustainable house in Fremantle, based on permaculture and passive solar principles, and have proudly opened it for two Sustainable House Days.
“I love the fact that you can ‘cave up’ when it’s 37 °C outside and our concrete floors keep it a cool 24 °C inside,” says Jenita of their house. She also loves their onsite water recycling, which means that every shower they take and load of washing they do is pumped out onto the avocado and lime trees to keep them thriving over summer.
“Also in the garden, we have six wicking planter boxes which we top up with water once a week. Right now they are heaving with herbs like mint, chives and basil, while the tomatoes and pumpkin vines are pumping out fruit to sustain our needs and enough to share with neighbours.”
In early 2018, wanting to help restart Renew’s Perth branch, Jenita joined Renew and took on the branch co-convenor role with Greg O’Byrne. “We wanted to ensure we could make Sustainable House Day bigger and better and get more people learning about sustainable living by visiting other people’s homes,” she explains. “We partnered with the City of Fremantle which was great.”
Now at home with her first child, Bonnie, Jenita is taking a step back and focusing on household sustainability. “I’m discovering the world of reusable nappies! And, having been part of Plastic-Free July for five years, our goal this year is to make our home entirely single-use plastic free. It’s quite the journey.” She says they have started by changing from plastic to large glass storage containers for flour, nuts and legumes, and have stocked up with a heap of mesh ‘swag bags’ to hold fruits and vegetables from the markets.
Jenita believes that the most pressing issue for Australians is that “we need new nature laws that take into consideration the huge threat we face from climate change, to ensure that our native species are not pushed to the edge of extinction but are supported to thrive in our natural environment.”
After taking some time out, she’s looking forward to her next big collective action. “I have learned that collective action is the most empowering way to make change.”