2015 was a very exciting year, even more so thinking about it in self-inflicted meditative retrospective mode.
At the start of it I thought it would be a good personal goal to visit somewhere new every month of the year.
By the end of 2015 I visited many beautiful places, both near and far: Broadstairs, Italy to visit family and friends, Brussels and Amsterdam, I went back to Brighton for VegFest, made it to Leeds, Oxford, dived around Mayfield lavender when it was in full bloom and full of cuddlesome bumblebees, Hastings, Beachy Head, finally went to Hampstead Heath ponds for a swim…but the very best travelling and overall highlight was visiting my friends in Canada, in Ontario and Québec.
My 2015 started with tons of trips to the theatre and the cinema. It all kicked off with the stage production of Lionboy at the Tricycle, where one of the best things was to see the characters use solar panels-powered mobile phones.
I went to see almost all of these films and shows at independent cinemas or small theatres, two documentaries worth mentioning are “The Emperor’s New Clothes” at the Rio, which involved being shocked by something I already knew but hoped wasn’t so bad (inequality rise, tax irrationalities, ludicrous debt) and lightened by a Q&A with Russell Brand. Salt of the Earth – watched with a giraffe neck from the back of the Lexi, a cinema where all proceeds go to charity – the documentary about Sebastião Salgado‘s life, was extremely touching, humbling and absolutely utterly stunning. Just thinking about the power of his pictures makes my brain explode.
We survived an all-night mystery marathon at the PCC, spent 2 amazing hours watching A Streetcar Named Desire there and also witnessed the social justice power of a play named Ask with my new activist and clever culture bud, C.
For the first time I was on a film set as an assistant to my friend’s short film and saw its premiere at the cinema, took an acting course at the Poor School and a Meisner course and saw my actress mate H, who is the epitome of “do what you love, love what you do” brilliantly perform in Much Ado About Nothing.
I went to some great exhibitions, several were photography ones, so fascinating and inspiring. A single picture can represent so much, years of thought, efforts, work and achievements, a single frame that can last forever, they can have so much power and impact, and I simply adore that.
Carsten Höller’s “Decision” at the Southbank Centre gave me the gift of feelings that I had never experienced before: feeling with your ears, using your feet like noses to sniff your way around a dark maze, the pureness of a forest where it’s snowing in the middle of the night, walking and seeing everything upside down – and trying (and surprisingly succeeding) to high-five in those mirrored conditions – flying in circles on top of a building in the middle of London, a swirly slide to eject you back into the ordinary world…going with a great mate just made the whole experience exhilarating.
My dear friend P was the great friend who encouraged me to start going to acting classes, introduced me to the ICA, one of my favourite places from which I always emerge with a tingling mind and an excited heart, and innumerable stunning films and documentaries screened there, a flying trapeze class (my Nan was well impressed), immersive theatre shows, enabled me to see the moon through the Royal Observatory’s 18-tonne Victorian telescope AND gave me her old bike, 小 Boy (little boy). ❤
Then there was VegFest in Brighton. I can safely, and not overly-drammatically, say that Sunday changed my life: it was then, during one of the Global Food Sustainability conference talks, that I realised I want, I need, to have a job that will allow me to work in the environmental sustainability field.
This eventually led to the other absolutely wonderful change last year was to start my Environment and Sustainable Development course at uni and meeting my wonderful classmates.
I have already learned a lot at uni. My political ecology class has made me realise how everything is interconnected: the environment, which is connected to the people within it, who are connected to politics, economics, itself again connected to the environment… to me this means that it is more important than ever to understand this relation, and see we all share the same environmental system, our planet, and to see that what we do has an impact on it, so we therefore need to be more mindful and think of our future.
At uni, I joined the UCL Fossil-Free group, as we want UCL to divest from any company related to the fossil fuel industry and make sustainable, rather than global warming-inducing investments.
I went to a few marches, the Climate March on 7th March, which I wrote about, I went to Reclaim Brixton, London’s anti-gentrification movement, the anti-austerity march in June (which wasn’t covered that much by some) and went to the People’s Climate Change March in November.
At work, I gave a presentation to my team on how to be more environmentally sustainable at the workplace and succeeded in increasing the kitchen recycling facilities by 50%, got us to start using a food waste caddy for the whole office’s daily food waste and started taking coffee capsules to the Nespresso boutique to be recycled.
Emiko, my camera. Emiko is wonderful, and one of the most precious things I own in the world. My friend M gave him to me as he now has a new camera. I’m still gobsmacked by his ridiculous generosity.
Another extremely precious object I came to own last year was a jar. My Mason jar. After reading about the amazing Lauren Singers transition to a zero-waste life, I saw this jar in a lovely indie shop in Kensington market in Toronto. I have been using it since September every time I purchase a coffee to take away, instead of using a take-away disposable cup, and have avoided producing A LOT of waste. It’s also great to carry water around as its lid seals so well that it doesn’t risk leaking in my backpack.
I made some more sustainable changes at home too. A few months ago I also purchased the “ecoegg“, which means I no longer need any detergent when I wash my clothes. Instead, the ecoegg uses special pellets to lift off dirt. This means it doesn’t pollute water, it has no chemicals, it’s great for sensitive skin and saves so much money.
I started using reusable cotton pads to remove make-up rather than disposable cotton balls, I started making my own toothpaste and using bamboo, compostable toothbrushes and bought reusable metal straws for drinks.
I am also continuously trying to use as little plastic as possible and use natural alternatives.
We had another 2 swap days, where my friends and I got rid of things we didn’t want/need, found new useful things for free and took a lot of stuff to local charity shops.
Meanwhile, I saved a coat by sewing wooden buttons to it. Pity that the weather has been so warm these past couple of months here in London that I actually haven’t a chance to wear that one yet as it’s too warm.
My point in mentioning all this is that these are some of the things in life that make me happy: seeing and meeting new friends, watching films and taking pictures…no matter how absolutely shit the future of our planet may seem, especially after the uncommitted outcome of COP21, I LOVE IT, and will do all I can to lower my carbon footprint even further and try to allow my nephew and my little cousins, as well as people who are experiencing the devastating effects of climate change right now, can remain where they are safely and enjoy this planet’s beauty and everything we love in it.
The changes in 2015 were really good, though I am still hoping to transition to a 0-waste life, the next aim at work is to have a filtered water tap installed so we can eliminate the use of plastic bottles and I hope to be using less and less plastic, especially when it comes to food packaging.
What did you think of the 5p charge on plastic bags in England?
What are your personal wishes, challenges and hopes for 2016?
Happy Sustainable New Year! 😀