04 May 2020

TEM Stories: How I drove myself out of the motor industry and down Sustainability Street

Gemma Bundy
As the COVID-19 pandemic closes the world and forces us all to slow down, the earth is also taking a moment to catch its breath. There are reports of cleaner air and rivers that were once murky now running clear. Even kangaroos have started to roam the city streets while we all stay home. In this moment of calm, I find myself reflecting on what inspired me to seek a career in sustainability and wondering where it might take me post COVID-19.

As I try to pinpoint the moment I began to deeply respect and want to protect our environment, I realise that it has been ingrained in me since I was a small child. Some of my earliest memories are of spending my time making mud pies in my back yard and finding bugs to feed my rabbit.

When we were camping with family and friends I would always look for the stream to play twiggy sticks in or the biggest muddy puddle to ride my bike through (I never was one for pretty dresses or ballet!). A sense of freedom is something I can only ever find when I am immersed in nature and able to explore. As I have grown up the space we have left to explore and feel free is becoming harder to find. With children of my own now I want to protect what we have left for them and their families still to come.

As a child my Dad was often sternly telling my brother and I to “turn OFF the lights”, or “close the door you’re letting the heat out!”. Looking back now it was probably more because of the size of the power bills but these are words that still ring in my ears. Albeit with a different message. They made me realise that one day the lights might not work anymore. Perhaps heating our homes won’t be as simple as flicking a switch, because the world doesn’t have infinite resources. We all need to slow down and think about everything we are taking from the planet, without giving anything back.

In my early 20’s I travelled from the UK where I had grown up to Australia and New Zealand. I saw some of the incredible wonders of the natural world, from the glaciers to the rainforests and I grew more and more fond of the land I now call home. Funding my travels through these stunning countries meant I kept falling back on my experience in the motor trade, which at the time I thought was better than fruit picking! It turned out to be a trap.

I felt stuck working in an industry that went so far against my moral compass it would sicken me. The days of exploring the great outdoors were now filled with paperwork and targets to see who can sell the most cars, not even EV’s but gas guzzlers that destroy the very thing I dreamed of protecting. The job was so unfulfilling, but it enabled me to keep exploring more of our great country.

It wasn’t until 15 years later, when I became a single mother to my two daughters that the dial got turned up to maximum. Looking into their tiny faces and knowing that one day they would ask me what I did to protect the planet from human’s destructive ways, I couldn’t bear the thought of saying, “I’m sorry, I did nothing, I made it worse and hoped someone else would fix it.”

Whilst still in my uniform straight from the job I loathed, I went to my interview at TEM. I sat and listened to all the wonderful projects that TEM works with and how the carbon market can make a real difference. Here I was, nervously listening to a man, who I immediately discovered shared my morals and love for our planet. Was it possible that I could be a part of the solution and make a positive impact on our environment? I knew I needed to be a part of this. I had finally found the beginning of my new path. I wanted to knuckle down and do anything and everything to be a part of TEM. Every day at work, I extend my pathway with this wonderful team of brilliant people who all play a vital role in securing a sustainable future.

I have now been building my new path for 4 years. With the support of the team at TEM I learn, improve, and feel empowered every day. Whether I am in the office or working from home, I sit with the elite’s in the field. I am so inspired by my team, that I am now working on my BA in Sustainable Development. I go to sleep knowing that what I do is helping protect our planet. Now in years to come when my girls are all grown up and ask me “What did you do to help save our environment?” I look forward to telling them all about how it began and what we can achieve when we follow our dreams.

Gemma Bundy is TEM’s Executive Assistant, passionate about sustainable living, sustainable working and creating a brighter future for her girls.