Activism Work & Career

Why Your 9-5 Doesn’t Have To Save The World, But Your Side Hustle Can

Olivia Burton
Written by Olivia Burton

Sydney, Australia: Over the last five years or more, I have lived in a state of panic that my day job isn’t saving the world, challenging my brain and being fun all at the same time. In the last few years, I have felt so much guilt about ways I could add positivity in the world via my job but also figure out what I’m good at and still enjoy it.

After reading the recent article about paediatrician Cate Claus and her ethical fine jewellery brand Thesis Gems & Jewelry, I looked into how other people have branched out from their 9-5 to make a change in the world. I also reflected on my own pathway up till now, reaching the point in the last six months where I’ve realised that not one job will fulfil all my criteria and that’s ok. 

80 percent of Australians are currently looking for fulfilment outside of work, meaning there is huge potential for personal growth through the pursuit of passion projects.”-  NBN Side Hustle Research Report   

After taking a leadership programme for eight months last year with the Centre for Sustainability (which I would highly recommend), I was inspired to take action outside of work and volunteer my time better. Since then, I’ve started writing about things I care about, volunteered with some incredible organisations and about to embark on a complete career change. If it doesn’t work out, well…there’s about a million other projects I can work on outside of my 9-5.

Below is a small selection of my favourite backstories of people doing more than just their full-time day job.

Maye Musk @mayemusk

The soon-to-be 70-year-old international model Maya Musk, is an exceptional individual changing the beauty standards in the fashion industry. Maya has been modelling for over five decades and during that time, has also pursued two Master of Science degrees in nutrition and dietetics and set up her own nutrition brand. She’s a strong advocate for female empowerment at any age, carving out a new outlook on ageing. Cosmetics company COVERGIRL interviewed Musk who considers herself to “have only just begun, and she proves that with her ageless style and spirit.”

Kelly Slater @outerknown

The 11-time World Surf League champion Kelly Slater is unsurprisingly an advocate for sustainability. With his love for the ocean, he decided to tap into a market that is sometimes cast aside in sustainable fashion – menswear. The brand Outerknown focuses on sustainability, workers rights and environmental impacts.

“I believe we have an obligation to build better products and understand the way our consumption impacts the world around us.”- Kelly Slater, Outerknown press release 

Laura Wells @iamlaurawells

This butt-kicking Australian is using her platform as an international model to educate and inform others about protecting the environment. Oh…she also happens to be educated in law and marine biology. Currently, she is back on home soil after sailing around Antarctica with Homeward Bound Projects, a leadership program focused on empowering females in science.

“The power of women to effect change is immense and we need to know and understand our collective power to create a better world.” – Taken from @iamlaurawells recent Instagram post, 2018

Grant Trebilco & Sam Schumacher @onewaveisallittakes

These two surfers started up a movement based around mental health and salt water therapy, which has now spread worldwide – OneWave. It started out in 2013 when Grant decided to start a conversation about mental health by surfing in a shirt and tie in Bondi, at 6.30am on a Friday. Sam is an engineer and Grant, a freelance branding marketer. Grant had been hiding his mental health challenges for a decade and the ocean is where he sought refuge.

“The ocean and surfing was Grant’s saviour in tough times when he was released from hospital. He discovered that one wave is all it takes. After hiding mental health issues for years, he decided enough was enough, it’s time to start talking and sharing his experience to try and help others.” – Taken from OneWave website

OneWave Founders Grant Trebilco and Sam Schumacher

Credit: OneWave

For more details on their events, check out their website.

Anita Vandyke @rocket_scientist

Not to put anyone to shame but…this Australian Engineer is now a medical student and about to publish a book A Zero Waste Life: a thirty-day guideShe recently put her medical studies on hold to invest time into her zero waste book, which she will then continue next year. It just goes to show, you can pursue multiple pathways in life.

I want to introduce you to a new type of environmentalist – the every day activist. We are all every day activists, because we can all make changes in our every day lives to make our planet a better place.” Anita Vandyke, quote taken from her website in 2018 

Want more people-powered inspiration? You’ll love this post about Marine Ecologist and Conservationist Lee Hankinson.


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About the author

Olivia Burton

Olivia Burton

Olivia Burton has a passion for sustainability, the outdoors and science. After moving from London to Sydney three years ago, she is now an ocean addict and attempting to surf tiny waves. Olivia also runs the blog 'Sustainable Cat' which focuses on the relationship between textiles and the environment.

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