We’re delighted to introduce environmental expert and Silentnight’s Eco Ambassador, Lucy Siegle. Lucy is a writer and broadcaster who is passionate about environmental issues. She is the author of To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing out the World and Turning the Tide on Plastic and producer of The True Cost, the Netflix feature documentary on the impact of the fashion industry. A familiar face on TV, she recently presented a special edition of ITV Tonight on microplastics and human health called Plastic: The Unseen Truth.
When did you become interested in ecology and the environment?
In common with many kids, I had an affinity with the natural world from a young age. I got a bird book for my 8th birthday from my grandad which I still keep near the back door next to some binoculars. My grandad was a self taught ecologist and in the 1980s he refused to use single use plastic bags in the supermarket and used to warn me about plastic all the time. He was ahead of his time!
How concerned should we be about climate change and how can we act as individuals?
I think the fact that we feel concerned is a good sign. It means we’re listening to the science and demanding action. We need our governments to help change the system but we are powerful as individuals too. Every decision you make has a bearing on your environmental impact. Fortunately some businesses are stepping up (well done Silentnight) and really thinking ahead both in terms of the materials they use and reuse and about cutting emisisons. This makes it much easier for us to act as consumers, and gives us more choice when it comes to low-impact products.
Your first piece for us is about beach cleans and comes about because you have become a campaigner on eliminating uncessary plastic waste. How did that come about?
I’ve been on the trail of plastic waste for about 10 years. I wanted to know why there was so much in our bins firstly, and then where we it went. My main concern has always been that we use single use plastic items for minutes (40% of all plastic used is for packaging for other products) but it stays in the environment for hundreds of years. As an unashamed tree hugger (I’ve been writing and making TV about environmental issues since I was in my 20s) I consider the backstory of everything. There’s an old adage in journalism, ‘follow the money’, well I usually end up following the oil. Given that 99.9% of plastic is made from oil, a fossil fuel, plastic for me is a key climate change story as well as its impact on wildlife. Almost everything that I’ve learned about plastics in recent years, has been as a result of beach cleans in the UK. They are so important. When you do a beach clean, you’re also collecting evidence. Without the evidence from beach cleans, I don’t think we would have had so much pressure on policy makers to act. We have a small window in which we can turn the tide on plastic so the importance of us taking action can’t be over emphasised in my opinion!
What else will you be talking about in the coming months?
Everything and anything. We are on the cusp of big change. We are shifting to a circular economy where smart products will contain lots of recycled materials, we are moving from fossil fuel to renewable energy and we are seeing the rise in electric cars and other technology. In short there’s a lot to talk about and it’s not just about what we do, but how we feel and where we put our energy. So I’ll be covering eco anxiety right through to tree planting and how we can detoxify our homes. The important thing is that we recognise a lot of change is needed but we break it down into easy to understand, effective action. I can’t wait to get going!