This post is somewhat of a departure from the kind of photography writing you would usually find here. As we approach the year's end, I thought I would share with you some of the philosophies that brought me to landscape photography, and how those philosophies spread through every part of my life. I also hope this is going to be informative for those who are looking for more ways to reduce their impact on the planet and her resources.
2018 has been one hell of a year, I think we can all agree. We've learnt that we have much less time than we previously thought in order to change our planet's fortunes. Previously it had been thought that we could raise Earth's temperature by 2C above pre-industrial levels, but that has now been corrected to 1.5C - a level we will reach in 12 years unless drastic changes are made now. I don't know about you, but I find the idea that we will reach Earth's tipping point in 2030 is terrifying.
Then there's the war on plastic, the increasing awareness about unsustainable palm oil practices, and the good-news-story that one third of Britons have now cut out or drastically reduced their meat intake, with one eighth of us being totally vegetarian or vegan. In one way or another, we're all becoming increasingly aware of our impact on Earth, but we still need a revolution to change humanity's fortunes. As things are, we're set to consume our way into extinction.
I'll be honest, I've been banging the environmentalism drum for a while now. Back in 2011 I made this short film with a couple of friends for the Eden Project in Cornwall. I've been talking about these things for so long, and yet 2018 is the first year when I've truly noticed a sea change in public opinion. I'm excited that we're finally getting moving on these things, but if it's to truly make a difference then we all need to acknowledge our part in making change happen.
This love for - and a sense of duty to - the environment is one of the big reasons why I love landscape photography. Getting outside with a camera gives you an excuse to really look, to take your time in nature, and to appreciate all the beauty and the life that this planet sustains. Earth has so much to offer, and yet all we do is take. Photography feels like my way of saying thank you, and to share the beauty that I find is an honour.
This is going to be a weekly series between now and Christmas, each week I'll focus on a different topic: Consumer choices, lifestyle changes, and DIY and household changes.
Now for that giveaway I mentioned... If you share this post on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, tag me! This will let me know you've shared and you'll be entered into a draw to receive a free limited edition print at the end of the series as a thank you for spreading the word. There will be four posts in this series, which means you have four chances to win, starting now! Scroll to the bottom for terms and conditions.
Enough talking, let's get down to it. I'm going to kick off with a quick seasonal one to get your creative juices flowing as you start to think about the gifts you'll give this holiday season...
Every year Christmas gifts are wrapped in glittery, foiled, plasticised paper, all of which can't be recycled. There are lots of sustainable ways to wrap your gifts that don't end up in landfill, and even better, you can avoid single-use wrapping paper altogether.
1. Switch to kraft paper. Skip the tape and instead tie with ribbon that can be reused (I try and keep the ribbon long by wrapping it around the gift a couple of times, so it can accommodate larger gifts in the future). Kraft paper has the benefit of being (typically) made from recycled paper as well as being 100% recyclable once the gift has been unwrapped. Minimise or abandon sticky tape, or if you need to use it then remember to remove the tape from the paper before recycling. In addition to a lovely ribbon, other ways to decorate the gift include stamps and natural greenery. Either way, the extra effort spent always shows, and makes your gift really individual.
2. Use gift bags. This one is awesome for those awkward-to-wrap gifts, but has the added benefit of being totally reusable for future gift-giving. I don't know about you, but I have a drawer full of gift bags that have previously housed gifts given to me, and one day they will house gifts I give to others. Bonus points if any new gift bags you buy (if you ever have to buy new ones, that is - I seem to have a constant supply coming in with gifts I'm given!) are made out of a sturdy but recyclable card, so that once it reaches the end of its life it can be reborn as something else! There's no need to wrap the gift inside. Instead you can stuff the top with recycled tissue paper, or combine it with gift wrapping tip number three...
3. Wrap your gifts with fabric! I've not done this one yet, but once I've used up the last of my gigantic roll of kraft paper (which I bought 3 years ago and have used to wrap every single gift I've given in that time, and it's STILL going! Talk about cost-effective!) I'm going to transition to wrapping gifts for my family in pretty fabrics, with the idea that I can wash and reuse the wrapping fabric again and again. I recently replaced my dining room curtains with thermally lined curtains, and I've already repurposed the old fabric as fabric wrap. I love the fact that the old curtains will have a new lease of life!
You could also give the wrapping fabric as part of the gift, and maybe inspire others to switch to fabric wrap. There are companies out there making beautiful purpose made fabric wraps, like https://www.wragwrap.com, or you could head to your local haberdashery and pick up an assortment of fabrics you love in one metre lengths and make your own, which is probably a more cost-effective way to approach things. Here's a tutorial on things to think about when making your own, and here's a good how-to on getting a professional finish when you sew the edges of the fabric wrap.
That's it for this week, but this is just the start of a series on sustainable living and reducing our impact on Earth.
Next week I'm tackling what consumer choices we can change to benefit our health and our planet.
Here's all you need to know about the giveaway --->
Stay tuned for next week's instalment of the series. It's a big'un!