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Plastic Free Cleaning and Household

Plastic Free Cleaning and Household

Plastic in your home

Our home is where our heart is and so thats the best place to start with the plastic free journey.  I wanted to look into plastic free cleaning and household tips as I run an airbnb so have A LOT of laundry and cleaning to deal with.  I currently buy bulk supplies of eco brands but sought some advice from my step sister – The Oily Witch for some recipes for home made products. 

Plastic is a health issue

At the recent Plastic Health Summit in Amsterdam, global experts have for the very first time come together to discuss the health impacts of plastic.  It is great that the health impact of plastics is now being investigated. My take away from the bits of the conference I caught on YouTube is that the experts have identified where the gaps are in existing research and are now making it a priority to fill those gaps.  This gives me great hope!

We are now ingesting around 5g of plastic per week.  That is the equivalent of a credit card per week!  And you can’t avoid it by not eating fish.  Sadly not.  Plastic is now is honey, water, salt, beer and in the air that you breathe.  In fact, 100% of mussels tested were found to have microplastics in them.  But microplastics are now in the air to such an extent that, if you were to leave a plate of mussels sitting out on the side in your kitchen for two hours – there would be more micro plastics on the plate than inside the mussels themselves.

Around 65% of all micro plastics are microfibres and our laundry is one of the main sources.  Particles from our car tyres are also a big contributor.  So what can you do for plastic free cleaning and household?

So what can you do?

Here are some top tips for plastic free cleaning and household and reducing toxic chemicals in your home at the same time.  Part of this blog has been written and contributed to by another Claire, my step-sister the Celticwitch Mama – who gives her tips on more environmentally safe and plastic free cleaning.

waste land

Photo Alex Bamford and Lou McCurdy

#1 Plastic Free Laundry

We can have a huge impact on reducing microfibre release by looking after our clothes, washing only when absolutely necessary, not using the delicates cycle (found to release more) or using one of the microfibre catching systems listed below:

  1. Guppy Friend Bag 
  2. Cora Ball 
  3. NEW: Planet Care washing machine filter* the most effective of these options.

Fellow Oceans 8 Consultant Lou McCurdy and awesome photographer Alex Bamford have been helping Planet Care out with their marketing.  Some of our river rubbish features in their work.

Not wearing so many synthetic fibres is also a great way of reducing your impact.  But don’t go all fast fashion on organic cotton products because cotton also has a huge environmental impact due to the amount of water used in the growing process.

Head over to my films blog and check out True Cost to find out more about the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

More infomation from the Plastic Soup Foundation #WhatsInMyWash campaign here:  #WhatsInMyWash

#2 Drive Less

It’s a no brainer really!  And I can’t say too much because I do own a vehicle and I use it but not daily.  The global impact of our carbon footprint is having its toll but in this instance it’s the microparticles from your car tyres that are the issue.  If your household can lift share, use public transport, walk or cycle more that will help.  

#3 Plastic free dishes

Are you still using J-Cloths and sponges, plastic scrubbers and washing up liquid in a single use plastic bottle?

Refill stations are your new friend.  Washing up liquid is one of the most commonly available refill items so no more excuses for that single use plastic bottle.  Ask the oracle (Google) where your nearest refill station is.  Alternatively, Splosh offers a mail order refill system.

Loofah, wooden handles and coconut scrubs are readily available.  There are links to some in my Christmas blog here.  (soon to be updated)

I also love the washable sponges and cloths that are now popping up for plastic free cleaning and household stuff.

anythingbutplastic.co.uk

#4 Plastic Free Cleaning 

There are now all sorts of recipes available online for making your own household cleaners.  This is a really easy and simple way for plastic free cleaning and household products.  I know that some are more effective than others and so I turned to an expert for advice.  Here’s some intel on making your own cleaning products from my super clean step-sister Claire aka The Oily Witch.

oily witch  
Who is the Oily Witch

I am a purveyor of essential oils and creator of natural cleaning products in order to reduce the need for a plethora of harmful crap in my cleaning cupboard.  I’m also a cleaning addict.  As in my toilet seat is clean enough to eat your dinner from. 

In the past, I’ve tried and tested many more naturally based cleaning products with mixed success…. Removing grease and limescale was usually a fail, thus requiring the extra toxic muscle available in some well-known household brands.  I turned to essential oils and making my own recipes and haven’t looked back since.

I have always been into what’s deemed as ‘alternative medicine’, finding the Eastern approach to health far more successful.  As a “green” witch, I am all about nature-based healing, and finding nifty ways to keep our lives as clean and green as is possible in the 21st century. Having a clean house is also very important to my mental health!  

I am mother to two small individuals, which is a massive motivator in doing my bit to protect the planet. But also keeps my feet firmly planted in the make it easy camp! 

Every minute of time is precious to me, so my Oily solutions not only have to work well, they need to be quick to produce.

zero waste maman

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

The benefits of making your own cleaning products:
  1. More space
    Take a look in your cleaning cupboard.  How many different products have you got? How many do similar jobs? You do not need separate stainless steel and glass cleaner! Are you using plug in air fresheners? Toilet air fresheners? Toilet blocs? Scented Reed Oil Diffusers? We really go a long way in this Country to make sure our xxxx don’t stink…. It’s all gone a bit crazy!
  2. Not toxic
    How many carry sinister warning labels? I don’t want my children to breathe in the aroma of those toxic chemicals when there are safe and natural alternatives readily available. There really is no need for bleach, or noxious oven cleaners requiring a mask and immediate evacuation of the space. We’ve been conditioned through advertising into believing we need too many separate, largely toxic, cleaners in our households. They’re not only damaging our immune systems, our skin is porous and what we inhale we ingest. 
  3. Keep your house alive
    They’re killing off or disrupting the natural eco balance in our homes too.  Some bacteria are our friends and are necessary for us to live healthily with a balanced immune system.  The chemical cleaners do not differentiate between the good and bad bacteria. 
  4. Save money
    I use the same oils to treat the family’s health, cook* and make beauty products like suntan lotion and shower gel.

*Please note that as pure essential oils are so potent they are not suitable to be placed directly onto skin or ingested in water.  They must be mixed with oils  or can be used as an ingredient in some food recipes.  Really, you should consult a certified aromatherapist or naturopathic doctor before ingesting any essential oil. 

Homemade cleaning store cupboard essentials:
  1. Bicarbonate of soda 
  2. Clear vinegar
  3. Olive Oil
  4. Citric Oil
  5. Glass containers
  6. Liquid castille soap

Pure Essential Oils dissolve plastics, so anything claiming to contain them yet stored in plastic must contain barely any. And they must be stored in darkened glass in a cool dark place with the lid tightly on so they can’t be ruined by light and oxidisation. I keep all my spray heads, jars, dark glass bottles from anything I have bought in the past and reuse these.

Initially, I was worried about having glass bottles all over the house and the potential fall out if they got dropped. However, it turns out they are more robust than you’d think and the kids are really careful with them, not that they use them as much as I’d like!

zero waste cleaning

Recipe tips:

An all round cleaner if you dont have the essential oils:

  • One part white vinegar
  • One part water
  • Lemon rind (or a couple of drops of lemon essential oil)
  • Rosemary sprigs (or a couple of drops of rosemary oil)

A citric oil in combination with a distilled leaf oil, makes an all-round cleaner that not only cuts through dirt and grease like a knife through butter, but purifies the air that your breathing whilst making you feel good. It won’t kill off the good bacteria you need to keep your home alive in all the right ways and its child and animal safe. I use mine to clean my oven, fridge, kitchen counters, sink, floor, wooden chopping board, remove stains from walls and clothes and pretty much anything that needs it.

Tea tree oil has brilliant antiseptic and anti-fungal properties, making it brilliant for cleaning bathrooms.

plastic free cleaning and household 

Why it’s important to get the right essential oils

Essential oils, are between 50 and 70 times as potent as the plant themselves, because of their concentration, and are chemical plant essences. One bottle of doTERRA Lemon contains 75 skins, 1 drop of Peppermint is equivalent to 28 cups of mint tea!

Not all Essential Oils are equal either, in the UK the market is unregulated, thus only 8% of the original ingredient needs to be present for it to be marketed as ‘pure’. This is only obvious by the price, because the bottles say next to nothing themselves, and when diffused and they smell wrong. So, to be clear, I am only promoting the use of doTERRA, because I know their oils are 100% pure and more importantly, ethically sourced and sustainable.

And, because of all that they are and can do, they make an excellent base for ‘Environmentally Protective Cleaning’ products.

We need to keep it natural where ever we can, not only for our own sakes but for the flora and fauna of the wider environment, that keep us alive.

If you’re interested in learning more or how, I run Oily Workshops or 1-2-1 private consultations. I also write about this The Oily Witch.

zero waste cleaning

Happy Cleaning!

How to Inspire the Next Generation of Ocean Superheroes by Treading Lighter

How to Inspire the Next Generation of Ocean Superheroes by Treading Lighter

How to inspire the next ocean superhero – ya know, the ones who have to pick up the pieces of our mistakes!

A conversation with ocean superhero Libby Bowles aka Tread Lighter Lib. 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

The quote by Margaret Mead is one of Libby’s favourites so it seems fitting to start with it.  If that isnt a reason to start your ocean superhero today then I dont know what is!

This episode is for you if:

  • You want to inspire the next generation of ocean super heroes.
  • You have children, are a teacher or just want to inspire them to become guardians of their own future planet.
  • You love Manta Rays or Whalesharks of diving or the Ocean
  • You like cycle touring
  • You are interested in bamboo bikes
  • You like hearing stories from ordinary people who have decided to do something positive to change the world

tread lighter 

Who is Tread Lighter Lib?

I met Libby on the very first #PaddleCleanup expedition that I took part in.  We instantly connected over our passion for the oceans creatures, diving and rubbish.  We spent the rest of our week  paddling together canoodling in the ‘dumpster’ canoe and planning world rubbish domination.

It was just before Libby took off on her bike made of grass to cycle the length of New Zealand.  Then accross Africa (on a different bike)! We could have done a whole other podcast about Sunny her amazing bamboo bike and her cycle touring trips! 

ocean superheroes

Treading Lighter

Libby is a primary school teacher by profession although she quit her teaching job after one of her students set her a challenge to walk her talk.  She is a walking example of how following your passions creates opportunitites that you otherwise might not have seen.

Since she quit her teaching job in October 2017 she has spoken to over 9,000 school children and 2,000 adults, cleaned more than a few beaches, got better at cycling up hills and met some of my own conservation heroes along the way!  Including oceanography legend Dr Sylvia Earle, South African freediver Hanli Prinsloo, Jack Johnson, Ingrid Visser the orca scientist (just a litttle bit envious of this one!), Marcus and Anna from the 5Gyres Institute, and environmental campaigner Natalie Fee, founder of City To Sea.

She is based in Bristol and available to talk at your school or event so do get in touch if you have a collective of next generation ambassadors waiting to happen!

 

ocean superhero

She mentions:

Global Vision International

Dr Andrea Marshall

Dr Simon Pierce

Bamboo Bicycle Club 

Jane Goodall

Roots and Shoots

Wonder by R J Palacio: 

Eco-Anxiety

Libby also talks about Eco-Anxiety which is a term that keeps coming up in the circles I spend my time in.  It is touch to stay positive in the face of so much environmental crisis sometimes, however as the Margaret Mead quote suggests change is possible and we are the people who can facilitate that change.  One of the best ways to overcmoe overwhelm or procrastination is to break down the issues and set smaller realistic goals for yourself, your business or project.  I can help you to overcome eco-anxiety and please get in touch via my coaching pages for a free chat to see how I can help you.  You never know, maybe you will become the next ocean superhero!

ocean superhero

Find Libby:

Tread Lighter Website

Facebook

Instagram

Libby doesnt mention her own mini super hero Pip the Wonder Pup but you can follow him here.

Podcast edited by the wonderful Chloe Aust

Please do comment and review as it helps to spread the word of positive change.

Thank you!

Podcast available on Stitcher, Spotify, Podbean and Apple Podcast.

 

 

bamboo bike 

ocean superhero

ocean superhero

Make Eco-Anxiety a thing of the past

By breaking down the issues that you are facing in your own life and in the greater world, I can help you navigate onto a better path.  We need to invest in ourselves to be able to step up and do what is needed to protect our natural world.  Clarity on your values and clear steps forward help to clear the overwhelm and the procrastination! Get in touch to see how I can help you.

Q & A with Ocean Cleanup Activist Atlanta Cook

Q & A with Ocean Cleanup Activist Atlanta Cook

 

 

Walk me through your journey into rubbish and waste and how you got to where you are today.  Where did it start?

 

When I was 10 years old on holiday in Greece with my mum I trod on a broken beer bottle in the sea.  It went into the middle of my left foot.  I was unable to walk properly for quite some time and it took until I was 21years old to be able to run properly. My mum and I had always collected up the litter left by others around us on the beach or in the park. I enjoyed the beach combing immensely, as back in the 70s you’d find starfish, sea horses and all sorts of other wonderful creatures from the sea.  There was born my fascination with the sea and the seemingly twisted relationship that humans have with their ‘waste’ products.  I couldn’t comprehend why we could arrange for the milkman to collect his bottles, but all the others ended up in landfill.  The system it seemed was defunct.

What does the ocean mean to you? 

The ocean is the cradle of all life on Earth, its memory and part of its breathing apparatus. It cleanses and revives the air we breath as it does the mind & soul.

What do you think are the common lies, misconceptions or myths surrounding ‘rubbish’?

That there is an ‘away’ you can throw it to, that landfill is acceptable, that it isn’t ‘our problem’ because ‘we didn’t make it’, that high consumption/waste levels are indicators of a healthy economy.

What book/books and/or film/films have influenced you the most and why?

Books:

The section on the Bowerbird, “the artist-architects of the avian world” in The Courtship of Birds (Hilda Simon 1977) captured my imagination and forged my resolution to never trust any grown-up that insisted that animals do not feel pain or understand beauty.  

GAIA New Look at Life on Earth (James Lovelock 1979) verbalised the theory that the Earth is not an unintelligent ‘machine like’ object full of resources to plunder and make profit on at will, but a delicate symbiotic heavenly body that has a remarkable aptitude for producing and nurturing a profusion of life forms that commands respect.

A Dictionary of Green Ideas (John Button 1988) lists the ‘Vocabulary for a sane and sustainable future’ taking the concept of ‘environmentally destructive’ activity in its widest sense to include everything that operates to laden the variety, sparkle and joy of life on Earth.

Films:

Brazil by Terry Gilliam because it’s dystopian landscape breathed a breath of fresh truth that through the flashy red sports car yuppie hype of 1985.

Koyaanisqatsi – Life Out of Balance (Godfrey Reggio 1982) expanded my mind, my musical spectrum and my eating habits forever.

What have you bought recently that cost under £50 and has made the biggest impact in your life or to your cause?

The Ocean Cleanup sweatshirt (www.theoceancleanup.com) which gave funds to a project that I helped crowd-fund in 2013 that develops advanced technologies to rid the world’s oceans of plastic.

What hurdles have you overcome in your waste journey, how did you overcome them and what did you learn?

Believing that introducing a ‘waste to energy’ system for Brighton & Hove would play a powerful positive role in bringing waste production under control. It is still way better than landfill, so we don’t literally drown in our own rubbish, but it propagates the concept that high consumption is ‘OK’ because we can make heat and power from the waste we produce.  

The German system of weighing people’s un-recyclable waste and charging by them by the gram is a much better deterrent. 

If you could make a poster that would reach millions and millions of people, including policy makers and educators what would it show or what would it say?

It would show one of the dead Albatross chicks from the Midway Islands north of Hawaii with plastic lighters, bottle tops and other plastics in its bloated stomach.  It would say ‘We did this…and now we need to clean it up!

Join @TheOceanCleanup on its mission to remove plastic from the world’s oceans’

There are a lot of people out there who want to do something /want to make a difference.  What have you learnt to be the key ingredients to a successful grass roots project, what advice would you give to someone starting and what resources would you recommend.

Ingredients (two key ingredients): Don’t judge. We are not the plastic police! Keep it short and sweet. Nobody likes to be lectured.

Advice (one if there is one that stands out): Lead by example and make it fun. 

Resources (one or two): Facebook page and a pasting table

Since Blue Planet, many people are more aware of the plastics issue, it is great to see the press focus on this.  Most of this is the reduction of single use avoidable plastic.  Apart from that, what would be your three key pieces of advice / simple actions that people can make (be it general public, business, educators whoever)

 1: Think Before You Flush – There are only 4 things that should go down the loo and they all begin with ‘P’

2: Make all your ethical decisions in the shop – never underestimate the power of your purse or your voice in the ear of the manager

3: Share the great alternatives you find – I spent years giving people fish-friendly washing up liquid and dishwasher tablets, wooden washing up & veg brushes, bamboo toothbrushes, cotton buds with cardboard sticks etc. as presents without a lecture.   People may not have time/inclination to find out where to get these things from so share the knowledge you have gained and make it easy for people to change their purchasing habits. 

What are bad recommendations that you hear in your area of expertise?

Use bioplastics or biodegradable plastics instead

What would you say to someone who thinks it is too late, the problem is too big, or that their actions won’t make a difference?

It is never too late. Imagine if the world leaders had thought that about the hole in the ozone layer. Your silence is your consent.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the problem, or lose focus temporarily?  What do you do to bring it back?

Yes, when I was at the EU parliamentary meeting to announce that plastic was finally put on the agenda there was a report that mussels had been found to have plastic in their gut and another to say that microfibres were not being filtered out from washing machines. 

It took me a few days to process this and get back off the floor. Sometimes I get sick of being the party pooper and I just didn’t know how I was going to break this news to my community. I felt really sad, but knew that I couldn’t sit on it. Even though I knew I was going to make people sad the truth is still my honour.

Recently Sally May told me that locally caught Brighton breem have plastic in their stomachs, and I felt shock at the thought that Brighton fish restaurants have to gut out the plastics and then serve the fish to my local community.  I don’t know why I was shocked. I know so much about the plastic crisis and how bad the problem is, but there was something so horribly local and personal about the news that it upset me.

What is your favourite fun fact about the ocean?

That it can heal our mental and physical wounds

What is an unusual situation you have found yourself in as a result of the work you do?

I had to defend the position of Seas At Risk Federation on offshore wind farm EIAs with the UK Environment Secretary Michael Mecher’s private secretary whilst half naked in a spa in Bergen, Norway during the North Sea Ministerial Conference.   

Atlanta Cook

Find out more about Atlanta and her various projects by listening to her podcast episode.

30 Films That Could Change Your Life

30 Films That Could Change Your Life

21The darker nights are drawing ever closer so here is my list of inspiring films which have had a huge influence on me.  These 30 films could change your life!

Films inspire as they connect directly with our emotions and draw on all of our senses transporting us right into the story like a hyperdermic syringe.  In fact, that is a model of media influence that I studied in A-Level Sociology all those.. ahem… some years ago.  You only need to look at the impact that TV series like Blue Planet II have had on conversations around the plastic pandemic.  

As an Ocean Advocate in this new era of mass environmentalism, I am more and more drawn to looking at what mediums actually create long lasting change.  Storytelling in a variety of formats, (including film) often come up top. Us humans have for millennia been drawn to stories to pass on our wisdom through generations.  Emotional, heart driven impact is what creates long lasting change. Not excessive facts, nor relentless imagery of the problems, but these also have their place.

Some of these films will require a massive eco hug after watching and some will leave you feeling inspired that there are people out there instigating change. Perhaps you will be inspired to be the next environmental hero? So grab a huge bowl of popcorn, make a pot of tea and get comfy… These films could change your life!

 

#1 PLASTIC BRITAIN: ON OUR WATCH

 

Ok so my first recommendation isnt actually out yet, but since I have been working with the producers and have now seen the trailer I can’t help but feel excited at the possibilities that could come out of this film.

It is a feature length environmental documentary exploring Britain’s relationship with plastic. It discovers a nation whose rivers lay claim to the highest level of micro-plastics of anywhere in the world, while asking what the plastic pollution problem truly means for Britain?

 Due to be released in 2021…

 

#2 BLACKFISH

This film literally changed my life.  After watching it I found Incredible Oceans – Whalefest and became a volunteer for them.  I then meeting some of the Ex-SeaWorld trainers at Whalefest and I became inspired to take action for whales and dolphins.  Within no time at all I started my journey into  marine conservation and public engagement, determined to join those giving a voice to the voiceless creatures of our oceans.

Blackfish tells the true story of Tilikum, a notoriously aggressive orca that killed three people while in captivity at Sea World. Tilikum has since died in the prison which he lived.  I, amoung many others, am determined to keep his story alive to protect the remaining orca living in tanks. I am fortunate enough to have seen orca in the ocean and never want to see them in tanks again!  #EmptyTheTanks #WildAndFree

#3 THE COVE 

This is the true story of Ric O’Barry, the man who trained the dolphins for the TV show Flipper. Since the dolpin committed suicide in his arms, Ric has dedicated his life to releasing captive dolphins back into the wild and trying to stop the drive hunts in Japan. Filmmaker Louie Pshihoyos and a team of activists join Ric.  Together, they go on a covert mission to a hidden cove in Japan to expose the dark and deadly secret of how they treated their dolphins.  I was lucky enough to meet Ric at Whalefest in 2015, a true ocean hero.

 #4 HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD

Chronicling the birth of the environmental movement, the story of eco-hero Robert Hunter and his part in the creation of what we now know as Greenpeace.  I have close friends who were very active members in Greenpeace in its hayday. I love their stories of enviromnetal heoicism and craziness.  This film also documents how the organisation has changed over the years.  With Paul Watson branching off and setting up Sea Shepherd, an organisation that isnt without its own controvercy but in a very different way.  Needless to say,  my friends arent involved anymore.

I have personal experience of the changing tides of charities as they grow and have the demands of sponsors to think about. It always amazes me how much ego there is in environmentalism.  Dont get me wrong, they also do great work!

See what you think.

#5  A PLASTIC OCEAN

A Plastic Ocean was one of the first feature-length documentaries to shine the light on plastic pollution.  It sets out simple steps we can take to create a shift away from the problem.  It highlights the consequences of our global disposable lifestyle and dispels the myths about floating islands of plastic in the ocean.  I have been fortunate enough to meet and work alongside both Jo Ruxton, the producer and David Jones the lead diver. 

It contains never-before-seen images of marine life, plastic pollution, and its ultimate consequences for human health. During its four-year production period, A Plastic Ocean was filmed in 20 locations around the world in beautiful and chilling detail to document the global effects of plastic pollution and introduce workable technology and policy solutions that can, if implemented in time, change things for the better. 

Since the film, far more scientific studies have been conducted and Blue Planet II has also created further shift in awareness.  In fact, I understand that it was because of his involvement in the Plastic Ocean film that Sir David Attenborough insisted that Blue Planet cover the truth that his film crews and him had been seeing for so long.  So in a way, this film was the catalyst for the global rise in plastic pollution discussion.

#6 ALBATROSS

This is a chilling yet beautiful piece of cinematography and a film that will probably leave you needing a big eco-hug.  In order to reach as many as possible the film has been made available for free permanently and there is the opportunity to host your own public screening of it.  To help you with your post-film eco-hug, just remember that plastic pollution is a man made issue and so we can un-make that issue! 

Every simple and small swap away from single use plastic, or brand that you convince to take action, creates a ripple effect.  I am organising some Brighton based screenings with mindful support from me so do sign up to my mailing list for updates.

films that changed my life

https://www.albatrossthefilm.com

#7 SHARKWATER AND SHARKWATER EXTINCTION

I feel a personal connection to these films.  I have just returned from Isla del Coco and travelled through the port at Punta Arenas in Costa Rica that is featured in these films.  When diving in Socorro in 2018 the Sharkwater ship was docked in the port I left from.  I’ve swam in the ocean with Hammerheads, Tigers, Galapagos, Oceanics and Reef Sharks.  I’ve seen the hooks in their mouths and the decline in their numbers. 

It is now necessary to go further and further away to find large numbers of our oceans majestic creatures.  Why?  Shark finning and the increasing shark meat trade, knock on consequences of as other fish stocks are now also critically declined.  

Shark is now found in fertiliser, livestock feed, cosmetics and pet food.  You could be smearing endangered super predators on your face and not even know it!  We are now killing estimated numbers of 100 million sharks a year in comparison with around 5 human deaths, which will be due to an accidental mistake of identity on the sharks behalf.  If you flap around on the surface of the water on a surfboard or whatever you tend to look like shark food (seals). 

There is no doubt that we are the number one predators of the sea and these two films are the life work of Rob Thompson, a scuba diver that was dedicated to raising awareness of the illegal shark trade.  Sadly Rob passed away in January 2017 while filming Sharkwater Extinction however the film was finished and released as his legacy and hopefully others will continue the fight.  There are some great resources on the Sharkwater website for educators so do check it out.

Educators Pack

#8 CHASING CORAL

In case you missed the memo, Climate Change is warming our seas, which in turn is killing our coral reefs.  Reefs are important because they provide a vital habitat to protect juvenile species, our coastlines and act as carbon sinks as they form.  Above a certain temperature however the coral spits out the algae that lives in it symbiotically.  It is the algae which photosynthesises, a process that provides the coral with the energy it needs to survive.  If waters don’t quickly recover to their initial cooler temperatures the reefs die.  Also knows as coral bleaching as the algae gives the coral its colour, Chasing Coral is a story about those who are on the front line of coral research and also looks at what can be done to prevent the global loss of coral reef systems.  

On my watchlist for the Autumn is also CHASING ICE, which I haven’t seen yet so can’t comment on.

https://www.chasingcoral.com

Both of the ‘chasing’ films are also on Netflix.

#9  MINIMALISM

One of the biggest ways individuals can positively impact our natural world is to stop with the relentless consuming.  We are brainwashed into needing the next X or the best Y and the newest version of Z.  But, do we actually NEED all this stuff!? The more suff I have the more trapped I feel. Get out there and live!  Get in nature, get in the ocean, see for real our impact and you will soon think twice about buying that next bit of pointless tat that will sit around gathering dust.  

This docu-film has been a huge inspiration to me.  It explores how life can be better with less and takes you inside the lives of minimalists from all walks of life-families, entrepreneurs, architects, artists, journalists, scientists, all of whom are striving to live a meaningful life with less.  It is though a strange transition period at the moment as with the rise of minimalism and the increasing popularity of Marie Kondo and her ‘Magic Life Changing Book of Tidying Up’.  Charity shops are in some places inundated while people clear out their unwanted crap.  Meanwhile, manufacturers are still churning out products and an ever increasing rate.  Don’t let that put you off though!  We need to start somewhere and the more we delay the more backlog there will be in the transition.

#10 RACING EXTINCTION

Us humans keep destroying the natural world and as we do so, we boot more and more creatures out of their habitat.  The same is happening to people to some extent, especially if you look at the recent fires in the Amazon.  As the rich and powerful want even more power and greed we need films like this to influence an uprise against it. 

Racing Extinction is an eco-thriller that examines our role in the mass extinctions that are happening today. Scientists, environmentalists, artists, and engineers draw attention to this pressing issue along side incredible footage and moving cinematography.  

You only need to look at the huge amount of people moving in protest recently. The ever imminent tipping point of climate change in mind and the aim to get our world leaders to take action to prevent furter loss of the natural world. Racing Extinction is a few years old now and I’m certain many more species have been lost since its release.  I would love to see a film coming out about the hugely inspirational Greta Thumberg.  

Any other films on this topic that you think could inspire or change someone’s life please comment below!

 films that change your life

#11 MISSION BLUE

Sylvia Earle is one of my all time heroes.  She has done and continues to do so much for the world’s oceans. The world would be a very different place without her.  I have been fortunate enough to be in the same room as her, to hear her speak.  She was the first female scuba diver to live under the sea a story that is also featured in this movie.  

Sylvia Earl is one of the pioneers for raising awareness of the oceans issues and has facilitated the mapping of this relatively unexplored part of our blue planet.  This film is about her, about the ocean, about inspiration and about how one person can change the world. 

Watch it.

#12 END OF THE LINE

This film has been called ‘The Inconvenient Truth About the Ocean’.  If you eat fish or seafood then you really should watch this film.  Not because I want you to feel bad but because I think it is important to know where your food comes from and the impact it has so you can make an educated decision for yourself.

As a result of watching this movie, I now eat fish probably one or two times a year only.  Some might criticise me for not giving it up entirely (I have never been a big fish eater anyway), but this is my choice and what works for me.  If every fish eater changed to limiting their intake to even once a month imagine the impact that would have on our oceans.

We are now in a world where the first blue fin tuna of the season in Japan has been sold at a record amount of over a million dollars.  Only to be sold at a loss.  Why?! For status.  Tuna (especially the rare blue fin) has become such a rare delicacy on the sushi scene that it is now a way for shushi restaurants to boast about their prosperity and to get their name up there as the place to be.  You can learn more by watching Blue Fin.

I have come face to face with tuna under water a few times.  But as with other fish, I have to go to further away and to more and more remote places to find large pelagic fish these days.  Under the surface us divers can see how few fish there are.  I wonder how much the very last ever blue fin tuna will sell for?!  It is only a short matter of time until that happens.

#13 CLOSING THE LOOP

“Unless we go Circular, its Game over for our Planet”.

Recommended to me by the Brighton and Hove Circular Economy Club, Closing The Loop is the world’s first feature length documentary on the circular economy.  It is presented by Prof. Dr. Wayne Visser, a global sustainability expert & Graham Ehlers Sheldon, a two-time Telly Award & Emmy Award winner. The documentary features innovative cases moving from a take-make-waste linear economy to a borrow-use-return zero-waste economy.

Presented in partnership with the Circular Economy Club, since it was made lots more innovation has occurred and I for one am excited at what is to come.  Claire Potter, featured on episode 2 of the Clare Talks Rubbish Podcast is a circular economy design expert, tune into her episode for more circular inspiration.  Claire has also been hugely inspired by the Minimalists film and she talks about minimising her life so she can live on the boat she is lovingly converting.

Closing the loop is open sourced and avoilable to watch for free, link for the full movie on Youtube below.

#14 TRUE COST

 The True Cost is a documentary film exploring the impact of fashion on people and the planet.  If you want some inspiration before watching the Minimalists, this is it. 

I am honoured to have worked with pioneering fashion designers Vin and Omi who for years now have been working to highlight the benefits of circularity in fashion and the detrimental effects of fast fashion.  Vin and Omi will also feature in the Plastic Britain documentary mentioned in #1 above.  I am also fortunate to know the founder of a local eco brand in Brighton and Hove Ruby Moon Swim to Gym.  Jo Malone has been making sports fashion out of ghost fishing nets now for several years.  We are super keen to have her on the Clare Talks Rubbish podcast so watch this space.

#15 ISLAND EARTH

I came across this film when listening to Cyrus Sutton’s episode on the Wild Ideas Worth Living Podcast (a favourite of mine!).  Island Earth is his story and the struggle for truth between science and tradition as he enters an industry that many feel is threatening his homeland. His complex journey through the corn fields of GMO companies to the loi patches of traditional Hawaiian elders reveals modern truths and ancient values that could save our future.

#16 BLOOD ROAD

I also found this film via the Wild Ideas Worth Living Podcast.  I have travelled extensively through Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and the atrocities that happened there in my lifetime are still so raw that it really affected me.  We are in hugely uncertain times at the moment and it pays to remember how bad things can get so quickly when politics goes wrong.   

I recently attended a talk by Simon Sinek and he used the Vietnam war as an analogy of how being in it to win it is a model of battle that just doesn’t work.  If you are in it for the long game and focus on thriving rather than winning you will generally come up on top.

Blood Road follows the journey of ultra-endurance mountain bike athlete Rebecca Rusch and her Vietnamese riding partner, Huyen Nguyen, as they pedal 1,200 miles along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Their goal was to reach the crash site and final resting place of Rebecca’s father, a U.S. Air Force pilot shot down over Laos some 40 years earlier.  However the journey becomes so much more than that.  A voyage of self discovery, the women push their bodies to the limit while learning more about the historic ‘Blood Road’ they’re peddling and how the Vietnam War shaped their lives in different ways.

#17 SEED THE UNTOLD STORY

As many irreplaceable seeds near extinction, Seed reveals the harrowing and heartening story of passionate seed keepers as they wage a David and Goliath battle against chemical seed companies, defending a 12,000 year food legacy.

#18 WALL-E

An incredible film about a robot left alone to clear up earth after it has been ransacked by humans.  Us humans having grown so fat we sit in floating chairs on a spaceship plugged into digital devices (crazy – or scarily possible future?).  If you are that way inclined (like me) its a bit of a tear jerker…. The kids films always get me!  An epic watch for a Sunday afternoon sofa session on a cold and rainy afternoon.

#19 COWSPIRACY

This film has created a huge wave in popularity of the vegan diet.  Backed up with the health benefits outlined in What The Health.  Particularly poignant at the moment with Bolsanaro turning a blind eye to the farmers who are allegedly starting fires to clear way for more lucrative cattle farms in the Amazon basin. 

I did attempt a vegan diet after watching Cowspiracy, then ping ponged between being a veggie and a meat eater.  The films has changed plenty of lives by inpiring a diet change even if not to full veganism.  Personally, I have settled at being a conscious flexitarian, barely eating meat and dairy but allowing myself to have it on occasions.  Generally, I am careful where any meat I consume does come from and I avoid beef except for perhaps one or two time a year.  I feel better as a result and am a massive advocate of this way of being. 

Veganism or even vegetarianism aren’t accessible to all so aiming for meat and dairy in moderation would have a significant impact and is more realistic and achievable for most.  I applaud vegans for doing it though, especially those who are non-judgmental in their approach.  Watch and decide for yourself. 

#20 BEFORE THE FLOOD

 “Climate Change is the single greatest threat to a sustainable future but, at the same time, addressing the climate challenge presents a golden opportunity to promote prosperity, security and a brighter future for all” Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General.

If you have heard about Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thumberg, the climate strikes, seen the protests but arent yet sure what its all about then this is the film for you.  Presented by Lionardo DiCaprio and National Geographic.

Also watch An Inconvenient Truth, released in 2006. Still no action has been taken by global leaders.

Explore some of the solutions here.

It is so important to counter the issues with the solutions so I love the fact that this movie adresses that on its website. There are also discussion and education packs if you want to run your own screening.

films to change your life

#21 OUR PLANET

Netflix’s version of the Blue Planet featuring Sir Attenborough himself.

 

 #22 THE GREAT HACK

This film was the last I watched on this list.  It exposes the corruption behind the Facebook fisching scandal with Cambridge Analytica in the elections of Donald Trump, Brexit and well pretty much all of the far right politicians who have now forged their way into power.  Its pretty scary stuff but stuff that we should all be aware of and all bear in mind.  A Netflix original.

I havent seen it yet but Data Centre: The True Cost of the Internet may also be worth a watch if this interested you.

 

#23 FAHRENHEIT 11/9

In a political environment where the rich elite have successfully used tactics straight out of the Nazi handbook to gain power and oppress the poor while getting richer and richer this film is an absolute must watch to all.  Take the content on board then join with your community to take any small steps you can to change the tide of greed.

I was a big fan of the 9/11 film of the same name, exposing the potential conspiracy behind the collapse of the twin towers in New York.  This film has far more evidence and scary tales about the ‘elected’ in power and their motives and strategies.  Including the shocking situation in Flint Michigan where the water has illegal toxic levels of lead and dirt but while children get sick and die, no one does anything about it. If that isn’t enough, the city has been turned into an army training ground and you could be mistaken that you were in a war zone rather than a city that is in the country where ‘dreams come true’. A scary and gripping watch.

If this film grabs you then also check out Vice, which documents the changes in American politics which laid the foundation for this current crazy.

IThese films could leave you feeling a bit lost, apathetic or out of control.  To that I will say, never lose hope, that’s what they want!  There are many historical instances of people winning over power.  If we all campaign and work towards the greater good, I have faith that change will come and sense will prevail.  The universe normally comes good in the end. 

Not the same topic at all but check out my podcast episode with Melanie Rees if you want to hear a positive story about people power that will inspire you and leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside.

 

#24 THE AMERICAN MEME

There really is more to life than being a social media influencer.  It’s an interesting insight into how social media has taken over the world.

Know that by sitting and looking at your phone, you often adopt a slumped body posture that tells your neurology you are feeling sad and low tempo.  No wonder there is a rise in instances of mental health problems.  So, despite this being a list of great films to watch, save them for a rainy day. 

Its time to shut your laptop, put your phone down and get outside.  Connecting with nature has so many benefits for your mental and physical wellbeing, and you are going to need to be fighting fit if you are to help us battle to save our beautiful planet.

 

 # 5 MORE FILMS THAT COULD CHANGE YOUR LIFE (THESE ARE ON MY LIST BUT NOT YET WATCHED)

#1 INNSAEI

#2 PLASTIC CHINA

 

#3 WASTELAND

#4 TOMORROW

#5 GARBAGE WARRIOR 

 

I hope that these films inspire you.  Do let me know what you think in the comments below or on my socials.  If you know of other films that could change someone’s life stick suggests in the comments too!

 

E9: Atlanta Cook: How To Be An Effective Ocean Activist

E9: Atlanta Cook: How To Be An Effective Ocean Activist

How to be an effective ocean activist – a question on many people’s mind at the moment.  

Surfers Against Sewage

Atlanta Cook has been campaigning for the ocean for a very long time and has not only set up several grass roots projects herself, she was also there at the start of Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) and is the only Honorary Life Member of SAS.

ocean activist

Atlanta is a surfer, a boogie boarder and has some very beautiful things to say about the ocean.  We talk about how its majesty and power get under your skin and bring tears to your eyes when you befriend it as much as surfers do.

Mermaid

Atlanta first came under my radar when Incredible Oceans Event Manager, Grace Walker and I two handedly pulled off a huge outdoor event with mermaids, sea shanties and a giant inflatable Orca.  Atlanta is a regular at the same Brighton Annual March of the Mermaids, usually accompanied by her daughter.  I’m sure Atlanta is part mermaid for real!

Global Activist

Atlanta has worked on ocean issues at a global level with the Seas At Risk Federation and was able to give Surfers Against Sewage a voice on an international stage.  But it all started with raves at the Zap in Brighton and boogie boarding with world class boogie boarder Jago Eliot who has now sadly passed away.

ocean activist

Ocean Activist

Back in the early 90s while surfing in Cornwall, Atlanta became aware of the water quality issues and joined forces with SAS bringing their first outpost to Brighton in 1991.  Spurred on by the death of 8 year old Heather Preen they successfully campaigned to improve water quality and prevent as much raw effluent being discharged into our seas.  The Safer Seas programme is the legacy of that campaign.

Not happy with that, Atlanta took over a local community centre and campaigned to prevent a local nature reserve from becoming a commercial enterprise and has now secured a chunk of funding to turn that into a community classroom that will enable her team and others to run workshops for school groups, working alongside Living Coasts.

I learnt so much from this conversation, about so many different environmental issues that I only knew about from a surface level..  If you want to know more about how to campaign effectively using simple messaging then you will love listening to Atlanta’s story.  Her determination is totally awe inspiring.

Learn More:

Atlanta Cook Marine Environment Consultancy Website

Facebook

Support the Beacon Hub Crowd Fund

Photo by Mi Elverson for Ruby Moon Swimwear

More from Atlanta on this Q&A Blog

From Atlanta:

Correction: I’m not the only Honorary Life Member of @surfersagainstsewage there are other former directors, campaign executives and strategists that are lucky enough to have had this wonderful title bestowed on them. I wear this hat with respect and honour for the Cornish surfing families that launched the Surfers Against Sewage Campaign For Clean Seas in 1990.

Correction: I was a bit nervous and mistakenly said that HIV can live for up to 100 days in the marine environment, it’s actually Hepatitis A that can do that.

Podcast edited by the wonderful Chloe Aust

Please do comment and review as it helps to spread the word of positive change.

Thank you!

oceans 8 ocean activist

Podcast available on Stitcher, Spotify, Podbean and Apple Podcast.

 

Follow socials to get the next episode as it is released.

Wasteland & the true cost of Convenience. E8: Louise McCurdy

Wasteland & the true cost of Convenience. E8: Louise McCurdy

‘Purveyors of Found and Vintage Plastic Goods’

The sign on the shopfront of the True Cost of Con-Venience store in the Forest of Dean. An awesome play of words and perceptions by Dirty Beach collaborators Louise McCurdy and Chloe Hanks.  Louise is a fellow Oceans 8 Brighton consultant and has been creating informative environmental art from waste plastic since 2006. Her recent work Wasteland and Planet Care are the result of a new collaboration with photographer Alex Bamford.

Dirty Beach

As one half of “Dirty Beach” with Chloe Hanks, they created immersive, fully fitted supermarket installations that mimicked the visual language of large modern retailers but stocked only plastic waste recovered from the environment. Dirty Beach built nine installations in the U.K., Netherlands and Belgium including the Trucost of Con-Venience ‘Purveyors of Found and Vintage Plastics’.

dirty beach

Wasteland

Lou is now working with photographer Alex Bamford and can often been found in the environment with piles of plastic and every day items like a shopping trolley, washing machines and hoovers.  Wasteland is the result of this project and more information can be found on their websites in the links below.

Lou writes “My art delves deep into the damaging mind boggling environmental consequences of the plastic pandemic. We have created a series of striking photographs of a rusty shopping trolley found buried on Brighton beach, filled with plastic waste. The trolley and I have been photographed on beaches, hills, rivers and forests. 

It’s a powerful engaging visual comment on waste plastic highlighting the harmful effects on the environment, society’s rampant consumerism and our addiction to plastic. Plastic lasts forever: it’s not inert, it leaches into our food, drinking water, the soil, it’s in the air we breathe and it is in us.”

wasteland

I love the humour and fun that Lou brings into her work. I wish there were more people using humour in their environmental messaging as I believe it really does have an impact.

Planet Care

In this episode I talk to Louise about the shell of a washing machine that she has in her front room. Since recording it, Alex Bamford and her have launched their Planet Care collection.

planet care

“Following on from our Wasteland project, Alex Bamford and I were asked to create visuals for PlanetCare, who’s filters capture the thousands of microfibres that leach from your laundry every time you use your washing machine.”

Louise and Alex were also part of our Big Pride Beach Clean and were there with me at 5.30am and with their hoover!

louise Mccurdy

Alex helped to document to huge amount of wate collected by Oceans 8 Brighton and the volunteers.  Louise then made this blanket of all the balloons we found!

louise Mccurdy

Sorry about the sound quality on this episode, it was one of my earlier recordings before I worked out how to get the levels right!  Or perhaps we were recording it from the depths of Wasteland!  I know you will love hearing about Louise’s journey, the other super interesting and amusing items she has found and how she has used her fun sense of humour to get environmental messages out there.

You can find more about Louise here:

Website

Instagram

Alex Bamford Photography

Podcast edited by the wonderful Chloe Aust

Next episode in 2 weeks.  Please do comment and review (ideally in itunes) as it helps to spread the word of positive change.

Thank you!

Podcast available on Stitcher, Spotify, Podbean and Apple Podcast.

 

Follow socials to get the next episode as it is released.