With the massive impact Covid-19 is having on our lives and livelihoods, we’ve been thinking a lot about how we can all continue to make a positive impact on the planet. That’s why we love the conversation we had with Natalie Fee, author of How to Save the World for Free. We actually spoke a few months before the Covid-19 pandemic, but her thoughts and advice are still timely!
What prompted you to write your book "How to Save the World for Free"?
City to Sea’s campaigns were making a real difference in terms of plastic pollution, but I felt that I wanted to take our audience and supporters on a journey to connect plastic pollution to the ecological emergency we’re facing. Our oceans are under threat from pollution from industrial farming, ocean acidification, over-fishing and melting ice – and all of this connects back to our actions on the land. And I love writing, so it made sense for the next step to be a book!
What has your personal sustainability journey been?
Seeing the devastating effects of marine plastic on the Laysan Albatross chicks on the Midway Islands was my wake-up call back in 2013. I’ve always been environmentally conscious but there was something about seeing everyday items that I was using, ending up in the bellies of these magnificent creatures, that I just couldn’t bear. That’s when I started campaigning and ended up founding City to Sea.
Are there any goals you're still working towards?
Plastic has been the focus for the past few years at home too! I wouldn’t say I’m zero waste, but I live with a lot less plastic than most, shop organically when I can, use a green energy supplier, hardly eat any meat or dairy and have cut back my flying too. The thing I’ve yet to change is my car – it’s too old to put on the rent-my-car schemes (which annoys me as it’s perfectly safe!) and I still need it for various reasons that a car rental service wouldn’t work for. So I’m waiting until either my current car dies, or until I can afford an electric one – which I’ll share with anyone who wants to drive it!
Some people say they feel overwhelmed with all the sustainability efforts we are being asked to participate in. What advice would you give people on how to get started?
My advice is to discover what aspect of the environmental crisis you’re most passionate about, blast it with your talent (either at work if you can or in your spare time) and give it to the world as your gift, with no expectation of whether or not it’s going to make one drop of difference. That way, even if we don’t ultimately succeed at reversing the climate crisis or restoring the world’s wildlife, you won’t have wasted a single second.
If you had to pick one change that we could incorporate in our lives as an individual, which one would it be?
Do an audit of your life and write down three things you could switch, this weekend, to a more sustainable option. That could be switching out meat in your weekly shop for plant-based alternatives, or changing your energy supplier, bank or pension.
What steps do you think we can take as a group or individually to help more people think about sustainability in their day to day lives?
Remember to share your environmental changes or switches to maximise your impact. Whenever you make a switch from something you were doing and the green alternative feels better, smells better or tastes better, make sure you tell all your friends. Social media has its downside but, as a tool for social change, it’s incredibly effective – never doubt the power of sharing a petition, post or film on social media. Whether it’s a quick video recorded on your phone, a rushed photo or a work of art, get it out there.
Natalie Fee is an award-winning environmentalist, author, speaker and founder of City to Sea, a UK-based organisation running campaigns to stop plastic pollution at source. Her new book, a #1 Amazon best-seller, How to Save the World for Free, is out now. She can be found sharing more tips on Instagram as nataliefee_ and on Twitter as nataliefee.