The Top 6 Environmental Films for Beginners

We’ve compiled the top 6 environmental films for beginners. Are you an environmentalist looking for something new to watch? Writing an essay on climate change and don’t want to do any proper research? Having a movie date with your eco-friendly significant other? Looking to improve your knowledge of eco-inspired cinema? All of the above? Look no further.

First off, a quick tip; don’t put on The Day After Tomorrow.

  1. Princess Mononoke
  2. Before The Flood
  3. Chasing Coral
  4. The True Cost
  5. The Return of Navajo Boy
  6. Koyaanisqatsi

PRINCESS MONONOKE (1997), dir. by Hayao Miyazaki

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Possibly the best film to come out of Studio Ghibli until Spirited Away stole the limelight. The tale of hotheaded San, (the eponymous Princess Mononoke – Mononoke roughly meaning ‘vengeful spirit’ – which in this case is true), and reticent prince Ashitaka may not seem like an environmental film at first glance – a film filled with magic and spirits – who take the form of thinking, speaking animals, or ‘Forest Gods’, protecting the land they are a part of. San herself was taken in by the wolf god Moro as a child, and rides her similarly massive pups into battle with the leader of the nearby Iron Town, Lady Eboshi.

Princess Mononoke itself is constructed from a tangled web of interconnected themes, voiced expertly by a set of characters that each get their own specific screen time, thoughts, and narrative. This allows the viewer’s allegiances to change with every new line. Essentially, the workers of Iron Town want to tame and ‘destroy’ the forest gods, which will allow them to mine iron and produce capital with no interference – something the forest gods are, quite obviously, not happy about. Meanwhile Ashitaka, who at the beginning of the film fights with a demon boar and is cursed because of it, simultaneously searches for a cure for his curse while trying to create peace between the warring factions.

The most evident and overarching theme is that of progress vs. conservation – how does a human community survive, thrive, and improve it’s technological prowess without hurting the environment it exploits to further that progress? That question is only half answered in a very roundabout way – after the Forest Spirit gets it’s head severed from it’s body, spewing toxic sentient goo over the whole forest which kills everything it touches, the humans decide they need to rethink their relationship with the thing which ultimately gives them life: Life itself.

It’s beautifully written, funny and sad in equal measures, has some of most insanely gorgeous artistry of any Ghibli film, and has a wonderfully-strong female lead, and a male lead who doesn’t muscle in, acting as a stirring vision of calm masculinity (even if he has a demonic arm). Also, and this may seem controversial, but if you’re not a Japanese speaker, we prefer the dubbed version, with stellar voice acting from Claire Danes, Billy Crudup, Billy Bob Thornton, and Minnie Driver. The subtitled version is good, but the translated lines of the dubbed version evoke a lot more beauty.

BEFORE THE FLOOD (2016) dir. by Fisher Stevens

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Actor-turned-environmentalist Leonardo Dicaprio heads up this 96 minute long environmental documentary. Fresh-faced but still bearded from filming The Revenant in 2015, DiCaprio presents the devastating impacts of climate change as they are happening, questioning as he goes humanity’s ability to reverse arguable the biggest problem we have ever faced.

The reason we add this film to the list is because of the impact DiCaprio has as both an auteur and a hollywood A-lister – who else do you think would have been able to interview both Barack Obama and the Pope in single film? Not us. Not through lack of experience we must add, but simply because DiCaprio’s name bears weight.

The film itself does not present much by the way of resolutions to the issues we face, but does a great job of visualising these issues. The film is shot over a period of three years, as DiCaprio talks to activists and dignitaries alike, from Greenland to the USA to Kiribati. He translates the complex scientific issues into easily-digestible bites, which through the film’s tone, sincerity, and cinematography, retain some of their actual bite.

The film itself isn’t groundbreaking and the choppy, Hollywood-esque cuts sometimes distract you from forming an emotional connection to what is on screen, or from receiving a suckerpunch of eco-anxious revelation. It has a few scenes that are definitely noteworthy, such as the conversation with astronaut Dr. Piers Sellers, and does a good job at providing bite-size morsels that present a much bigger, bleaker picture. A good film for beginners.

CHASING CORAL (2017) dir. Jeff Orlowski

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Coral reefs. They occupy less than 1% of the Earth’s oceanic area, but provide a home for at least a quarter of all marine animals. They are also dying. Jeff Orlowski’s Chasing Coral sees a group of divers, scientists, and photographers from across the globe attempt to document this loss.

It’s a truly remarkable thing to see, timelapses of coral bleaching, dying, and decaying. We wouldn’t recommend this film for the date, it can be a little bleak at times. Yet, this is where Chasing Coral succeeds – it does a grand job of melting together voices, emotions, and hard facts.

Essentially, the oceans are the biggest heat traps and always have been, and as global temperatures rise the oceans get warmer and warmer. Coral, which acts as a home for some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, is very suited to particular temperatures. As the seawater warms, the corals bleach. This is a stress response, meaning that the corals eject all of the microscopic plant-life that gives them their colour, causing them to go bright white. The corals can sometimes survive in this situation, but the plant-life acts as their main source of nutrition, and more often then not, this bleaching will eventually lead to death.

Chasing Corals is a well-shot, well-paced film. It lacks in breadth, which is not an inherently bad thing. Too often environmental films try to focus on ‘all’ the issues, ending up lacking in crucial evidence. Furthermore, this can also help to overwhelm and alienate the viewer, presenting environmental issues as insurmountable problems. In its sole on the issue of coral, this film succeeds in presenting a well-rounded approach on a singular focus.

THE TRUE COST (2015) dir. by Andrew Morgan

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Not simply an environmental documentary, The True Cost also looks into the social aspects of fast fashion; the exploitation, the consumerism, and how it all fits into global capitalism. This isn’t a tale of groundbreaking designers or fabulous models, it’s a documentary on the very beginnings of commodified and damaging haute couture.

Director Andrew Morgan was drawn to the subject after the Dhaka building collapse in 2013, where a commercial building in Bangladesh crumbled and killed over a thousand workers. These workers had been subjected to unsafe working conditions, and we’re also part of a business that manufactured for big brands such as Prada, Gucci, and Versace amongst others.

The film explores the structural poverty that comes with the fast fashion industry, looking at the unsafe conditions many workers face and how the environmental cost of the industry affects poor communities, further hinting at issues of institutionalised and environmental racism.

One of the most poignant and shocking parts of the film focuses on Indian-grown cotton. Demand for the crop led to the planting of genetically-modified cotton by larger companies, pushing the price up, leading to a number of suicides by smaller, traditional cotton farmers. The GM crops themselves needed more pesticides, leading to ecosystem damage and birth defects amongst newborns in the local Punjab population.

The main themes that run through the film are of exploitation and disposability – and not simply disposability of fashion, throwing away a top after a few wears – we are talking about the disposability of human lives and environmental security. To engage with this film is to realise that there is something truly wrong with where we source the very shirts on our collective backs. You may have spent £25 on it, but what is the true cost?

THE RETURN OF NAVAJO BOY (2000) dir. by Jeff Spitz

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Released in 2000, The Return of Navajo Boy deals with an incredibly important, but unfortunately little spoken- about issue in the modern environmentalism movement. That is the issue of environmental racism.

Environmental racism is essentially a concept that explores environmental injustices that are carried out, either through practice or through policy, with a racialised context. Think of the American Bison, who were hunted to near extinction in the 1870s by the American army in an effort to force Native Americans off of their homelands.

In the context of The Return of Navajo Boy, we see the story of the Cly family, through them exploring the unregulated mining of uraniam in Monument Valley, Utah, and how it has caused illness. It raises key issues of white supremacy, political representation, and reparation denial, all within the context of environmentally-unfriendly policy. It is a film steeped in sadness, and a must-watch.

KOYAANISQATSI (1982) dir. by Godfrey Reggio

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The word ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ is a Hopi word that roughly translates to ‘life of moral corruption or turmoil’. It’s a phrase that should be on the viewer’s mind while watching.

The film is the most experimental and ephemeral of those on this list and is more art than documentary. It is an 86 minute-long visual tone poem, consisting of slow-motion or timelapse imagery of cities and landscapes across the United States. If there was ever a film to convince us of Timothy Morton’s philosophical view of ecology and environmentalism, that humans need to be convinced that they live ‘inside’ climate change, rather than climate change being something that is in ‘another place’, this is it.

It’s essentially an instrumental piece. There is no dialogue to be heard, save for choral chanting in Hopi. The music is a score by American composer Philip Glass. Explaining the choice of no dialogue, director Godfrey Reggio said, “it’s not for lack of love of the language that these films have no words. It’s because, from my point of view, our language is in a state of vast humiliation. It no longer describes the world in which we live.” Eat your heart out Timothy Morton.

Reggio said of the film that “it is up [to] the viewer to take for himself/herself what it is that [the film] means.”, adding that “these films have never been about the effect of technology, of industry on people. It’s been that everyone: politics, education, things of the financial structure, the nation state structure, language, the culture, religion, all of that exists within the host of technology. So it’s not the effect of, it’s that everything exists within [technology]. It’s not that we use technology, we live technology. Technology has become as ubiquitous as the air we breathe …”

The film ends with a translation of three Hopi prophecies, which are chanted in their original language earlier in the film, the most poignant of which reads: “A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans.”

Maybe not the best film for a date.

SPECIAL MENTIONS

Into The Wild (2007), Interstellar (2014)Minimalism (2016), The 11th Hour (2007), Chasing Ice (2012), Climate Refugees (2010), Cowspiracy (2014), Under The Dome (2015), Erin Brockovich (2000), Silent Running (1972), WALL-E (2008), Pom Poko (1994), Nausicaä Of The Valley Of The Wind (1984).

Deeply Good’s Climate Change Playlist

Here it is, the first instalment of our curated mixtape, featuring songs from many different genres. Their one uniting theme? They are all inspired by, and are artistic responses to, climate change.

The Climate Change Playlist #1‘ (Yes, there will be more), contains genres that range from folk, classic rock, to hip hop and even electronic genres such as techno and industrial. When researching for this playlist, we were met with an avalanche of environmentalism-inspired songs, but understood that to create a playlist that sounded like a mixtape, we would have to consider which songs to keep in, and which songs to leave out.

Hopefully we have created something that flows nicely, something to work to, or to chill out with while travelling, or even sitting with a cup of tea. It’s up to you. From The 1975 and Greta Thunberg, to Björk, to Childish Gambino, to Thom Yorke, to Led Zeppelin and Bon Iver, we hope you enjoy.

As always, some songs will be more relevant than others, but it is up to you to figure out which ones you connect with the most. Why not send us your thoughts via our twitter @deeplygoodmag?

 

 

 

Greta Thunberg contributes stirring monologue to The 1975’s latest track

Pop music, but at its most poignant.

In a move that came truly out of the blue, the young climate activist Greta Thunberg has collaborated with indie band The 1975 on their latest track.

The song, released today, coincided with what was to be Britain’s hottest day on record – a day that unfortunately has been held in high regard by mainstream media.

The track is simply called, The 1975, and is intended to be the intro track to the band’s upcoming new album Notes on a Conditional Form, which is set to be released in February 2020. We are not here to critique The 1975 in their work, which has seemed to polarise music fans, seemingly fitting into both the ‘underrated’ and ‘overhyped’ categories, but for a band with an undeniably massive presence within younger audiences, for them to ask to Greta to pen an original monologue for the intro, it is nothing short of prophetic.

“We are right now, in the beginning of a climate and ecological crisis” Thunberg begins, in her now well-known accent. “And we need to call it what it is. An emergency.” It is the classic combination of hard-hitting truths and a realistic and moving sense of optimism we have come to admire and respect from the young climate activist.

“We have to acknowledge that older generations have failed. All political movements in their present form have failed. But homo sapiens have not failed.”

“Unless we recognise the overall failures of our current systems, we most probably don’t stand a chance.”

One of the most poignant parts of the track is probably its shortest line. Thunberg states “Now is the time to speak clearly.” In the age of ‘fake news’, Cambridge Analytica, and the political echo chambers of social media, speaking clearly is an increasingly radical act. This, amongst the other messages of the track, will hopefully speak volumes within the minds of fans worldwide. And speak clearly Greta does.

“You say that nothing in life is black or white. But that is a lie. A very dangerous lie. Either we prevent a 1.5 degree of warming, or we don’t.”

“There are no grey areas when it comes to survival.”

Thunberg also touches upon an issue inherent within the realm of environmental action, the war between systematic change and individual action. Forms of mainstream media, global multinationals, and neoliberalism itself do a great job of convincing us that we, the everyday citizens of the globe, are to blame. In part, they are correct, our consumer actions influence every corporate decision. Yet, it is the choices of a few incredibly rich individuals that have an incredibly large impact also, and our systems of government allow those decisions to be carried out. Thunberg does well to encapsulate this idea, and provide a succinct argument to align both ideas: “We need a system change rather than an individual change, but you cannot have one without the other.”

What is most inspiring about this piece in terms of its context within music history and culture, is that the ‘lyrics’ resemble early anarchic punk rock songs, the traditional ‘tear down the government’ politic. Yet this song is seemingly more ‘punk’ than any of those. Here we have a 16 year old imploring the minds of youths to change the world, not by smashing glass and wearing plaid jeans, but by restructuring both our economics and our politics into forms that do not exploit the living world.

“We can no longer save the world by playing by the rules. The rules need to be changed.”

Aesthetically speaking, this is a slow and sombre piece. It will have no sympathy for those moved to sadness by Thunberg’s words. We’d argue that this track is The 1975’s way of saying, ‘we are not here to play games’. Rather heroically on their part, all proceeds for the track will be going to climate activism group Extinction Rebellion.

“Everyone out there, it is now time to civil disobedience.” Thunberg says in the penultimate line, and then the music stops.

“It is now time to rebel.”

 

 

Record numbers sign up for Veganuary 2019

Veganuary. The month that people dedicate to changing up their diet by consuming solely plant-based, vegan produce. With people entering 2019 with the phrase ‘new year, new me’ rooted deeply in their mindset, will we see them sticking to the change of diet?

This year, record numbers have signed up to the Veganuary pledge, with over 250,000 from 193 countries signing up. On Sunday 30th December 2018, 14,000 people signed up at a rate of one every six seconds.

2018 saw a real boom in the rise of veganism, with numbers of products available and adherents to the vegan lifestyle increasing exponentially.

“In 2018 there hasn’t been a week that has gone by without veganism hitting the headlines, whether it is a magazine editor being fired or Waitrose launching a new range of products,” said Rich Hardy, Head of Campaigns at Veganuary.

“Vegan products are getting a lot better and it is becoming a lot more convenient to have a tasty plant-based diet.”

One of the reasons for the surge in active members in the vegan community has been the warnings from scientists across the globe about the damage meat production and consumption has on the living planet, in terms of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions the industry creates each year.

A report published in 2014 called ‘Dietary greenhouse gas emissions of meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans in the UK‘, noted that the average emissions of meat eaters was 7.19kgCO2e/day compared to 2.89kgCO2e/day for those who consumed a vegan diet. In May 2018, an incredibly comprehensive analysis of the impact of animal agriculture was published, which stated that avoiding animal products was the single most productive way to reduce an individual’s environmental footprint.

‘Moving from current diets to a diet that excludes animal products has transformative potential, reducing food’s land use by 3.1 (2.8-3.3) billion hectares (a 76% reduction), including a 19% reduction in arable land; food’s GHG emissions by 6.6 (5.5-7.4) billion metric tons of CO2eq (a 49% reduction); acidification by 50% (45-54%); eutrophication by 49% (37-56%); and scarcity-weighted freshwater withdrawals by 19%.’

Recently, delegates who attended the COP24 meeting in Katowice, Poland were reprimanded for the menu served in the food court on site, a menu very high in meat-based products.

A third of UK consumers say they have deliberately reduced the amount of meat they eat, or excluded it from their diet entirely, according to the supermarket chain Waitrose. in 2018, one in eight Britons declared themselves as either vegetarian or vegan. 21% participate in a flexitarian diet, which is where a mostly plant-based diet is sometimes supplemented by meat, dairy, or fish.

Joseph Poore, of Oxford University, who led the research, said: “A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth – not just greenhouse gases but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car.”

Veganuary’s site states that the three main reasons to practice veganism are animal welfare, health, and environmental protection. It offers a practical explanation of all three reasons, including recommendations for videos, articles, discussions, and a list of vegan myths they take the time to dispel. There is also a ‘vegan starter kit’, advice on where to eat out, and a hundreds of recipes.

While Veganuary grows in numbers, environmentalists are worried that it will be hard to promote this lifestyle to the majority of people within the small time-frame that we have left to tackle climate breakdown.

‘Though dietary change is realistic for any individual, widespread behavioral change will be hard to achieve in the narrow timeframe remaining to limit global warming and prevent further, irreversible biodiversity loss.’

 

£80m Eden Project North set to open in Morecambe in 2022

A proposed attracting may be coming to Morecambe in autumn 2022, which would be the latest addition to the Eden Project; Eden Project North, an £80m environmental attraction which will purportedly bring in up to 8,000 visitors a day.

Eden Project North will be comprised of a number of indoor and outdoor experiences, all set around or within a series of ‘biomes’, styled around mussels, a species that Morecambe is well known for. These biomes will house a number of different ecosystems.

Dave Harland, chief executive of Eden Project International Limited, said: “We’re incredibly proud to present our vision for Eden Project North and hope that the people of Morecambe and the surrounding area are as excited about it as we are.

“We aim to reimagine what a seaside destination can offer, with a world-class tourist attraction that is completely in tune with its natural surroundings.”

The hope for Eden Project North is that it will connect the local community to the internationally-significant natural environment of Morecambe Bay, creating a better understanding of natural environments and their fragility, and to also hopefull foster a better sense of well-being in the area.

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An artist’s impression of Eden Project North, a proposed new attraction for Morecambe . Credit: Grimshaw Architects

Grimshaw Architects, the organisation responsible for  the world-famous Rainforest and Mediterranean Biomes, have designed the Morecambe-based structures with its focus on the marine environment.

The project is also being seen through by its partners the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Lancaster University, Lancashire County Council and Lancaster City Council. Lancaster City Council plan to invest £250,000 in the project.

Group leader and Labour Cllr Eileen Blamire said “We have all been impressed and enormously excited by the emerging proposals for Eden Project North. If this scheme happens it will have a transformative impact for Morecambe and the wider area.

“Eden Project North meets the criteria in terms of the Eden Project mission” Said Nick Bellamy, head of Eden Project International.

“To have all of this come together with support from Lancaster University, the city and county councils, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and other bodies is really rare, but very welcome.”

“2019 will be the year that this project really takes off. We’d hope to have full planning permission by 2020, and to be open in the third quarter of 2022.”

The front line of environments affected by climate breakdown will be coastal areas who will be at risk of flooding from rising sea levels. These are also areas where 17% of the UK population lives, and to draw attention to the fragility of those environments will be nothing but good.

“Our project in Cornwall was about the connection between humans and plants, and Eden Project North is about our connection with the marine and aquatic environment.” Said Bellamy.

“It will also be about health and wellbeing and that link to coastal communities, and how we can understand that better.”

“We’ve got an incredible vision for this place, and the question is, are you with us?”

You can find out more information on the projects of Eden Project International here.

 

 

 

 

 

Eco-travel: The essential advice on environmentally-friendly travelling

Travel. Everyone’s dream. Seeing parts of the planet you never dreamed of seeing. And yet, with each year roughly 1.2 billion people seeking distant shores, we have to fundamentally rethink the way in which travel is undertaken. 

Whether it’s cities, beaches, mountains, or seas that take your fancy, we’ve come up with a few eco-friendly ideas to take into consideration when planning your next sojourn abroad. 

DESTINATION

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Picking your destination can make our break a good travelling experience.

Not every destination will champion environmentally-friendly practices. Some will, but may be on the other side of the world from where you reside.  Yet there are destinations, that if chosen wisely, demonstrate good-decision making and a commitment to the living planet. 

Before setting your sights on a destination, do your research. Selecting destinations that prioritise sustainability, environmental advocacy, using environmentally-friendly business practices, and are actually investing in their own natural heritage is forward thinking. There are countries, like Namibia and Bhutan, that contain within their constitutional doctrines, environmental protection policy. Other countries place their environments in similar high regard and act accordingly,such as Ecuador’s decision to place 97 percent of the Galapagos’s landmass under the watchful gaze of its national park service.

“Selecting a destination that achieves a balance of protecting natural and cultural resources, providing for sustainable livelihoods, and creating a high-quality traveler experience is challenging.” Says the WWF’s Vice President of Travel and Conservation Jim Sano. But all is not hopeless. There are services you can use that help to inform about which destinations are sustainable. A quick Ecosia search provides a whole host of information, with sites such as Ecotourism, Sustainable Tourism, and Green Destinations providing a wealth of advice. Particularly helpful is Green Destinations, who have compiled a list of sustainable destinations against the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s Destination Criteria – “A recognised set of criteria to assess a destination’s management policies and practices. Two hundred destinations have been selected to date.” You’re definitely spoilt for choice. 

TRANSPORTATION

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Train rides may take longer, but can emit anywhere up to 90% less carbon emissions than a flight of the same distance.
 

The destination is only part of the battle. Getting there is possibly going to be your main cause of environmental concern. The US aviation industry alone produces 11% of that country’s net transportation-caused emissions. Carbon emissions from planes takes up a portion of around 2-3% of all global emissions produced annually. Plus, jet fuel produces more carbon emissions per 3.7 litres (1 gallon), than car fuel does.

The 2017 Atmosfair Airline Index is a useful tool when comparing flights for energy efficiency, and last named TUI Airways as the most efficient in both medium and long haul flights, due to its efficient aircraft and passenger to flight ratio. The higher the amount of passengers per flights, the less amount of flights that need to be taken. What you may lose in legroom, you make up for in efficiency. You can also look into airlines that try to offset their carbon production, by investing in projects that try and actively reduce or store carbon in our atmosphere. This is probably the closest direct way of carbon neutral flying. For example, you can look into airlines that work with the International Air Transport Association, using their carbon offset and environmental assessment programs. Another good idea is, regardless of the distance of the flight, look into non-stop trips. Takeoffs and landings are the periods that create the most carbon emissions during a flight, and minimising these instances is a good idea. 

You could also consider taking a train instead of a plane. “Excellent railway infrastructure makes trains a viable alternative to flights, including most of Europe and East Asia, and some countries in Southeast Asia.” Says Steve Long, co-founder of The Travel Brief. Many European rail services run on electric power or alternative fuels, and are the most efficient per journey when boasting a high occupancy rate. 

A brilliant resource to use when deciding which mode of travel to use is the carbon calculater from EcoPassenger. For example, it calculated that a train journey from London to Rome would produce 223.2kg of carbon dioxide less than a flight would. If time is of no consequence, trains should be considered. 

If you fancy giving your sea legs a test, we would advice against taking a cruise. Cruise ships are one of the worst polluters of all transport types, with the industry consuming millions of tonnes of fuel and producing almost a billion tonnes of sewage each year. Friends Of The Earth created an annual report card which compares and contrasts the impacts of well-known cruise lines, rating them based on their sewage treatment, air pollution, water quality compliance, and their transparency, which you can find here. If you still want to experience the seas and all their beauty, you can look into chartering a sailboat, which of course will have an infinitely smaller footprint. 

WHERE TO STAY

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A good bit of travelling isn’t whole without a nice place to rest your head.

Hotels can actually represent a huge amount of environmental impact when it comes to travel. We suggest that, when looking into the accommodation you choose, decide upon which issues matter to you the most. The most ‘green’ hotels across the board will work in tandem with the three pillars of sustainable tourism – environmental, social, and economic. 

Many major hotel chains as well as independents operate green programs (such as IHG, who work by what they call their Green Engage ™ System, or Accor Hotels, who employ their Planet 21 Sustainable Development program). We recommend that you call where you’re staying and ask some questions, as it is their responsibility to try and satisfy you. Inquire about whether they compost, where they source their energy from, whether they reuse their grey water. Do they recycle? Where do they source their food from?

A good way of searching for hotels that are either approved or accredited by programs such as  Green Key, a voluntary eco-label awarded to establishments for their work in environmental sustainability. There is also the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, which oversees the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

“Making environmentally friendly choices on your own during your stay can have a long-term impact on the environment and only takes small changes,” said Rhiannon Jacobsen, vice president of strategic relationships at the U.S. Green Building Council.

In satisfying the aforementioned three pillars of sustainable tourism, you could put your money to good use by helping to invest in local communities. For example, Unique Lodges of the World, a 55-strong collection of properties affiliated with National Geographic, has properties that tick all boxes. The Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve in South Africa helps to protect native species, invests in community programs that provide education, and employs a sustainable wastewater management system.

There are some immediate ways you can help when you arrive at your accommodation. If staying at a hotel, decline having your towels and linens changed every day. Don’t take from your room’s mini-fridge. Decline housekeeping. Decline any form of disposable plates or utensils. Avoid buffets, which usually result in a vast amount of wasted food. If the hotel doesn’t seem to be recycling, suggest it to them. If bikes are available to be borrowed or rented, do so. Refuse using or taking the complimentary small plastic bottles of shampoo or conditioner, bring your own, and if you do bring them home, donate them to homeless shelters. 

WHAT TO PACK

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A reusable cutlery set from Bright Zine, a KeepCup, Solid shampoo, moisturiser, and deodorant from LUSH, a tote bag, a bamboo toothbrush, and a cross-body bag from The North Face.

Travel requires eating out, drinking out, and carrying items with you that you wouldn’t normally carry, and sometimes buying items you usually normally buy. To limit your both your physical and environmental impact when travelling, it’s good to carry reusables.

Of course you’re going to pack the usual items, the clothes, possible sun tan lotion, toiletries, but are there ways of making these items sustainable? Clothes are simple and reusable, so already have a better environmental footprint in terms of lifetime than something like a plastic bottle. Second-hand clothes are even better. Are you shopping for new holiday clothes? See what you can get second-hand before you buy new.

In terms of toiletries there is a large community for naked (plastic-free), sustainable products. LUSH do an incredible line of naked products that are travel friendly, such as their lasting shampoo bars and shower gels. They also do travel toothpaste in the form of small chewable pills.

Watch out for where you purchase your sun-tan lotion from, as common sunscreens can contain chemicals that lead to coral reef bleaching. Search for reef-friendly products, such as properly biodegradable or mineral-based sunscreens. Or simply wear protective clothing.

Eating out, dining on street food will probably be on the cards for you, so it’s wise to invest in a good set of reusable cutlery to take with you. The set pictured above is by Bright Zine, but there is a vast amount out there, made by many different companies from many different materials. To go along with your set, it’s also good to invest in some sort of hot drink container for those times when you crave tea or coffee on the go. Pictured above is a glass KeepCup, a cute and fantastic addition to anyone’s eco-friendly travel kit. The cork sleeve is made from sustainably-sourced cork, and 15% of the price of this particular KeepCup went to the Australian branch of Sea Shepherd, the marine conservation organisation. Conventional coffee cups made from cardboard and plastic are over-used and difficult to recycle, so show some love for the living planet by getting yourself a reusable. Most big coffee chains also offer money off for using a reusable cup. 

Another thing that we at Deeply Good stress is good to have on you at all times (not just when travelling), is a tote bag. These can come in all shapes and sizes, but are fantastic for carrying anything from fresh produce to clothing, and help to make sure we’re not using the waterway-polluting plastic bags. Totes can be bought virtually anywhere, and are easy to customise. They fold down to virtually nothing so can fit in any coat or bag pocket. 

A good minimalist traveller will invest in a rugged and durable backpack that fits any occasion or destination. We’re also enjoying the recent trend in cross-body bags (imagine fanny-packs that sling across your chest), as they provide a convenient and trendy way to store items you already have on you, or items you buy. 

Last but not least, remember your reusable water bottle. Not only does it prevent you from buying needless single-use plastic bottles, but it also keeps you hydrated, a bonus if you’re travelling somewhere hot.

Our honourable mentions also include; a microfiber travel towel and a mooncup (or other reusable menstrual cup). Also, if you want to stay protected from the Sun, but dislike buying a plastic lotion bottle, LUSH conveniently do a naked sun-tan lotion bar.

INVEST IN GREEN ACTIVITIES, INVEST IN LOCAL COMMUNITIES

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“The green movement has changed from how to preserve and protect to how to use less and do good when you’re there,” said Dawn Head, owner and editor of the online resource Go Green Travel Green. The array of any eco-friendly activity in any place you go will be vast. Sailing, snorkelling, scuba-diving, hiking, running, kayaking, paddleboarding, cycling, swimming, even walking around a museum – all of these cause minimal, if no impact at all. Why not visit craft markets, second-hand shops, or even local events? Giving your money to local companies is bother better for the environment and the economy than giving it all to a multinational.

There is also the possibility to give back to the community you visit in other ways: volunteering. Some hotels and tour operators arrange short term volunteer opportunities, but this is fairly rare and may take a little bit of research to discover which hotels offer schemes such as these.

There are also programs such as Pack for a Purpose set up. With Pack For A Purpose, you can select a destination and bring supplies to said destination, if that destination calls for them. For example, in Jamaica, visitors can donate school equipment through Beaches Negril Resort & Spa to Mount Airy All Age school, which educates 650 children. This means you can actively support a community you travel to, and would even mean you would probably travel home with less than you came with.

Visiting and donating to local amusements such as wildlife reserves, parks, and protected marine areas would mean that tourism money would directly benefit the local community and environment.

When it comes to travelling, we will sometimes want to bring a souvenir back from our trips. This is all well and good as souvenirs serve as lasting reminders of a time well-spent. When we see an item for sale, especially in another country, we can never tell where that item has been procured from, or whether it is even legal to purchase. Some items may be made of protected wood that may be illegal to trade in, import, or export. Even worse is the sale of animal-derived products, that will usually do more harm than good to local communities, and definitely do no good for local environments. Imagine going to Africa and buying something made of Ivory? It would be highly damaging. 

Ask yourself, before you purchase, what is this item made of and where did it come from? An informed choice may help you dodge fines at customs and also help reduce the demand for unethical or environmentally-unfriendly products. For a list of items to avoid, check out WWF’s Buyer Beware Guide. 

Also, it almost doesn’t need to be said, but avoid all places that deal in any kind of animal exploitation.

Finally, eating locally is a wise choice. Chain restaurants will usually import foods from far away, translating to more carbon emissions, increasing the footprint of your trip. To offset the emissions from your travel, you could even try going vegan for the duration of the trip. Meat and dairy contributes more greenhouse gas emissions globally than all of the transport industry combined. While travelling, eating vegan would not only offset this footprint significantly, it would also be a fun challenge, and would possibly help you contribute to local small businesses, as most cities will have specifically vegan cafes and restaurants that you could enjoy. You would probably be at less risk of catching food poisoning from meat or dairy if you made the easy switch while travelling. 

 

TRAVEL WELL, TRAVEL GOOD.

 

 

 

 

Eco-cities: Ideas to make our cities greener

More cycling and walking infrastructure. More greenery. Less cars. Commitment to sourcing renewable energy. There is a plethora of activities a city can undertake to create a green haven, increasing public health and quality of life. Deeply Good takes a look at some of the cities and some of the good ideas that can turn a city from being polluted to being green.

GREENERY

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The featured image of this article depicts the inside of the Cloud Forest, part of Singapore’s 250 acre nature park, Gardens By The Bay, created in 2012. The park aims at enhancing the quality of life within the city by increasing the amount of flora and fauna. It is a resounding success. Awe-inspiringly beautiful and ecologically marvellous, Gardens By The Bay represents just one way in which a city can increase their green footprint.

In Paris, the local government recently passed a law which allows citizens to plant their very own urban gardens in public spaces. Permits allow them to grow anything from plant-filled walls, to trees, to planters along the roads. Also, the city will provide the topsoil and seeds upon any request, though plots are required to be maintained by those who proposed them.

In Shenzhen, China, a crowded city of 12 million that is vulnerable to flooding, has begun a project of turning it’s rooftops into gardens. The gardens themselves can help to retain 65% of rainwater and reduce pollution through carbon dioxide intake. The project is part of China’s sponge cities initiative, which is helping poorer communities become more resilient to extreme weather.

Ideas for greenery can come in even quirkier forms. For example, the Dutch designer/artist Daan Roosegaarde has come up with an idea which could revolutionise not only the way our cities look and how we keep them green, but how we keep them lit at night.  Through biomimicry-inspired technology, Daan has come up with the idea for a ‘bioluminescent plant’, through splicing the DNA from luminescent bacteria with the chloroplast genome of plants to create a jellyfish-type glow. Roosegaarde hopes that one day it could replace our conventional street lighting, allowing us to plant more trees and save on the electricity bill.

And who said a garden had to be on a horizontal surface? Wall gardens have become more prevalent and more important in the fight to keep our cities green. Drawing on the advances in hydroponic growing, the free space on a number of buildings can now be taken up by plantlife. In London, the Edgware Road Tube Station, among other locations, has a vertical garden incorporated into its structure, created by UK-based firm Biotecture.

Adding greenery to cities improves air quality, the mood of passersby, and can also create more resilience to hotter summer temperature. It stimulates evapotranspiration, in which evaporating water from plants leaves reduces the surrounding air temperature.

TIME FOR REFLECTION

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We’ve been experiencing hotter and hotter consecutive summers within the last decade, with heatwaves lasting weeks. Cities are particularly susceptible to these, as pollution and the trapping effect of architecture can create heat pools that keep temperatures up.

We all know that the best reflective colour is white. As the Sun beats down upon our planet, the white snowy areas do their part to reflect that light and heat back out into space, but as those white areas are melting under the strain of climate breakdown, we need to take matters into our own hands. If cities are to be made to be more eco-friendly, and cooler in the long run, the materials used to build with must be changed.

Urban areas are filled with, almost-oppressively, with dark materials – your concrete, asphalt, brick, metal painted black. These dark colours absorb heat from the Sun, growing hotter and hotter throughout the day. In Australia, conventional paving can reach temperatures of up to 67C and conventional roofs up to 50-90C on a hot day. This heat is then leached back in to the streets during the night, not allowing for any respite from it during summer months.

Research done by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has shown that living on the top floor of a building with a dark roof poses a health risk, after having identifying a risk factor of mortality in the 1995 heatwave in Chicago. The best way to avoid this is to use cool-coloured coatings.

White-coloured coatings or materials applied, not only to roofs, but to walls and even roads, can reflect more solar energy away from a building. In New York, the Cool Roofs Initiative, has seen more than 500,000m² of roof space covered in white reflective coating, reducing the amount of CO2 produced by 2,282 tonnes per year. Research done by NASA suggested that a white roof could be anywhere up to 23C cooler than a normal black roof on the hottest day of the year.

In Los Angeles, a city known as an urban heat island, the local government has begun to paint roads in white coloured sealant that has a high reflective value. This could, as suggestions proclaim, reduce temperatures in the road by 10-15ºF.

INTERACTIVE TECHNOLOGIES

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As our cities and populations grow, we need to adapt our technologies so that they fit both our current and our future needs. The picture above is the definition of this. These impressive structures make up the Supertree Grove at the previously mentioned Gardens By The Bay in Singapore.

The 18 Supertrees stretch up to 50 metres high, their steel frames housing a whopping 162,900 plants of over 200 species. It is fairly evident that a large part of their function is to serve an aesthetic function, one which they carry out with rare beauty and grace for pieces of architecture, but they also serve environmental purposes. Each Supertree is equipped to harvest rainwater, and some are replete with photovoltaic cells, which mimic the chlorophyll of real trees and capture solar energy. Others are integrated with the conservatories that make up Gardens By The Bay, and serve as air exhaust receptacles, ventilating them.

In London, they have taken interactive technologies to a much ‘lower’ level. In West Ham there is an elevated pedestrian walkway close to the underground, and built into this walkway is an intentional underfoot ‘springiness’. This springiness can be attributed to the five millimetre thick smart tiles that capture the kinetic energy produced by a pedestrian’s footfall, powering the streetlights above, an innovation which was created by Pavegen, and has also been installed in London’s Heathrow.

Another Good Idea in turning cities ‘green’ is something that has been capturing the attention of many people – solar roads. In the Netherlands, a solar energy-harvesting bike path made waves when it produced 3,000kWh – enough to power a small household for a year. Public interest has also been focused on the US company, Solar Roadways, which aims at covering every highway in the US with thick, durable LED-lit solar panels.

It has been theorised that if their plan were to succeed, the solar roadway network would produce more electricity than America uses. The residual heat stored in them melts ice and snow, they are able to store underground cables, and are effectively resistant to potholing. What this could mean for cities would be a vast network of solar roads which powered the adjacent buildings and public transport links.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

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The World Health Organisation estimates that around 7 million premature deaths are caused by air pollution. This pollution can be found at it’s worst in cities, where high buildings and high vehicle generates and traps a lot of polluted air. In England, around 40,000 premature deaths and even more health conditions are linked to poor air quality. So what can we do about it?

Initially, we can petition local governments to invest in the infrastructure of public transport, making it more reliable. If we can rely on public transport, more people will readily use it than resorting to taking their cars. In Helsinki, there are plans to offer ‘mobility on demand’ by the year 2025. The plans are based around integrating all public transport services; buses, taxis, bikes, and ferries, into one smartphone app. This app would act as both route planner and payment platform, allowing residents and tourist the ease of cheap and convenient travel options.

Some cities around the world are taking other action, banning cars in certain areas or on certain days. Paris bans cars in historic central districts at weekends and during major events where pollution will be high, makes public transport free. Similarly, in Madrid there is a new incentive to encourage the use of public transport. When air quality levels are breached, 50% of cars will be banned, and public transport will be made free.

In Copenhagen, the bike is prioritised over the car, and is widely known as the city with more bicycles than it has people, having 26 ‘cycling superhighways’  . Large parts of the capital have been closed for decades, and the city is currently planning to become carbon neutral by 2025. The car-free movement can be seen in a large amount of cities around the globe, such as Helsinki, Olso, Zurich, Bangalore, and Delhi.

A GREEN CITY

There are effectively an impressive amount of ideas that a city can undertake to make itself more environmentally friendly, but one we have not yet mentioned is very important – it is the ability to invest in renewable energy. A sustainable eco-friendly energy source, if invested in properly, could provide jobs and energy indefinitely. All these technologies and ideas, if integrated properly, could turn a humble city into a bastion of green energy and policy, leading the way for other cities to join in preparation for the future.

 

 

George Monbiot proposes new language for environmental protection

Last Thursday political and environmental activist, writer, and columnist George Monbiot took to Twitter to showcase what he suggests should be new terms for general use in the fight against climate breakdown.

The environmentalist, who recently spoke at an Extinction Rebellion event outside Parliament, wrote; ‘Here are my suggestions on how to talk about the living world with words that engage people, reveal rather than disguise realities, and honour what we seek to protect.’

We’ve put the old and proposed new terms in a table below.

Old Terms New Terms
The environment The living planet / the natural world
Climate change Climate breakdown
Global warming Global heating
Biodiversity Wildlife
Fish stocks Fish populations (they don’t exist to be exploited)
Natural resources Living systems / The fabric of the Earth (ditto)
Natural capital Nature / living systems
Ecosystem services Life support systems
Nature reserves Wildlife refuges (reserve suggests distance)
Extinction Ecocide / annihilation (these suggest agency)
The planet The living planet
Save the planet Defending the living planet
Climate sceptic Climate science denier (exact opposite of sceptic)
Freemarket thinktank Opaquely-funded lobby group

Monbiot recently published Out Of The Wreckage, a work concerning what he calls ‘the politics of belonging’ – ways in which we can take we can take back control of social, democratic, and economic life, through radical reorganisation, against forces who would seek to thwart the ambitions for a better, fairer society.

The writer is incredibly vocal on environmental activism through his twitter page, also using it to criticise the right-wing media and the presidency of Donald Trump.

The new language itself paints the world of environmental protection as both an imminent, urgent, and also, solvable, situation. In a previous tweet, explaining his use of ‘climate breakdown, over ‘climate change’ Monbiot wrote: ‘1. It better conveys the extent of the problem. 2. People don’t say “So what? The climate’s always breaking down” 3. It makes an implicit connection with the impact on our minds. 4. It suggests that we can fix it.’

What Monbiot is implicitly proposing is that to deal with climate breakdown and all ensuing related issues, we need to drastically rethink the way we perceive the living planet and our relationship to it, and this involves changing our very language to re-orientate those perspectives.

What are your thoughts on Monbiot’s new terms?

Welcome To Deeply Good

Welcome to Deeply Good Magazine.

We’re a fully-independent ecological and cultural journal, hoping to develop into a published quarterly magazine at some point in the future.

Deeply Good Magazine is written, designed, and contributed to by a diverse bunch of thinkers, writers, and creators. We believe in the majesty and fragility of the ecological world, and through our work, want to help to preserve that world.

We align ourselves with the concept of ‘least-impact’, in that the best way for us to live in the 21st century with the amount of environmental strain our societies place upon the Earth, is to produce the least impact, if not no impact at all.

Hopefully what we create, what we share, and what we contribute can help and inspire our audiences towards a greener way of living, one that doesn’t compromise on creativity, self-expression, and autonomy.

Deeply Good was first conceived in early 2018. Our initial idea was a pipe dream, a good ‘feeling’ combining a love of creativity and the need for environmental protection and sustainability. We are still figuring out what that dream is, but for every new thing we write or create, the image becomes a little more clear.

You can find out more about our ethos on our About page.

We hope you enjoy and resonate with what we have to say.

Stay eco x

Jack Andrew Cribb
Deeply Good Founder & Editor

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