If you’ve got a family, it’s only natural to want to be able to provide the best for them. It shouldn’t mean you’re just focusing on the present, as being able to provide for them in the future is equally important. Being eco-wise means, you’re doing all you can to ensure there is a planet and resources for future generations, not just your children and grandchildren. It just so happens that adopting more environmentally habits can also be a more budget-friendly option. If you involve your kids in what you’re doing, by the time they’re adults it’ll be second nature, making it much easier for them to pass on their eco-friendly habits to their kids. Here are some changes you can make for the better.

Be More Aware

Before you can make any changes, you need to be more aware of the way you lead your life and the resources you use. How do you heat your home, for example? Look closely at how you use water and how the products you buy were made. Being more aware of the resources you use allows you to look at ways of making changes.

Plant More Trees

Not only do trees give us fruit, but they also provide us with oxygen, clean the air, prevent the erosion of soil and provide shelter for animals and birds. Take a look in your garden and see whether you’ve got any room for some trees. If there’s room plant some and provide yourself with some shade to keep your home cool and help you reduce energy usage.

Conserve Water

A lot of energy is required to get your water supply to your home, and we’re also using far too much of it. There are various ways you can conserve water, but the best place to start is to repair any leaks. Taking shorter showers, and turning the tap off when you brush your teeth, recycling wastewater and collecting rainwater are just a few more examples.

Use Alternative Energy Sources

Have you thought about using alternative energy sources? There’s wind power, solar power, and a range of other more eco-friendly ways you can power your home. If you like the idea of solar panels, visit www.goingsolar.com to find out about home solar systems.

Grown Your Own or Buy Local

If you are aiming to reduce your carbon footprint, a good way to do it is to buy local produce. If you choose to buy products that were grown in your neighbourhood rather than shipped from far away, you’ll be supporting local producers, farms, and dairies. If you want to be even more eco-friendly, then grow some of your favourite fruit and veg in your own backyard.

Reduce, Reuse and Then Recycle

We’re all encouraged to recycle whenever we can, but before that, we should be thinking about reducing and reusing. You’ll make a far bigger impact if you’re able to reduce your consumption and reuse what you’ve got for other things.

These are just a few of the ways you can make a difference and secure the future of our planet for future generations.

I love sharing the stories of women who make a difference and most of us do in one way or another. I am sharing my interview with the fascinating Andrea who really can claim to be Queen of the Mantas. I hope you too will find a love for the Manta after reading her powerful story.

Manta

Please tell us a little about your childhood and teenage years

The legendary Sylvia Earle was a huge inspiration for me growing up and I’ve been interested in diving before I an even remember. My mom tells me that I always said I wanted to dive and learn about sharks since I was about 5 years old. I never wavered in my passion for the underwater world and was steadfast that this was something I wanted to do.

I learned to dive very young and became PADI certified in Monterey, California, aged 12 – but only because they wouldn’t let me qualify any earlier. I was actually really annoyed that I had to wait until I was 12 before I could become a diver.

What did you study and why?

Growing up, I was obsessed with sharks and I always knew this was what I wanted to study. I studied biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, (UCSB) and got my Masters at the University of Queensland, Australia, before moving straight to Africa to do my PhD work aged 23. I was thinking about studying great white sharks which is why I’d been drawn to Australia and Africa – those are destinations where there were a lot of great whites. When I was in South Africa, I suddenly realised that you mainly study white sharks from the surface or from the boat and I didn’t want my research to be so disconnected from them. I wanted to be immersed in the water with my subject and I wasn’t satisfied with having to research species from the surface.

I had the opportunity to do some assessments on manta rays for the IUCN. Like pretty much every diver, I loved manta rays. But, I didn’t know anything about them so I tried to do some research on them and I found there was very little information out there. It was so intriguing to me that one of the largest animals in the ocean was unstudied. Ultimately, I had to list manta rays as Data Deficient on the IUCN Redlist.

What led you to going to Mozambique and why did you stay?

I was asked to do some exploratory diving in Mozambique and I was a part of a lot of those expeditions. As we started to explore the coastline for diving, I was absolutely blown away. I recognised it as a really special location. There were manta rays everywhere. As I seemed to have stumbled upon this amazing location for manta rays and no-one had studied them before, I decided I should take on the challenge of studying them. I’m so glad this opportunity fell into my lap because it really did alter the course of my life. The more I dived with these amazing creatures, the more I realised how wonderful they are and it has led to me becoming a global ambassador for manta rays and fighting for their protection across the world.

Why do you care about manta rays?

Since I’ve had the opportunity to study manta rays, I’ve fallen in love with this enchanting species. They’re just so different to other fish and are really curious around divers: they’ll come up to you and interact with you which is really special. If you were able to join me on a dive with manta rays and see for yourself, you’d understand why I’m so passionate about them in an instant!

Tell us about the bigger picture in how your work helps to protect the rest of the ocean ecosystem

Marine megafauna – or “ocean giants” – are vital to the delicate balance of the marine ecosystem and also serve as a good indicator as to the health of the ocean. If there’s something wrong with the population of the apex predator in a marine environment, the other species in the ecosystem will suffer too. So, when we protect ocean giants, we also achieve an umbrella protection for a wide variety of marine species.

Take, for example, a simple marine ecosystem where the shark is the apex predator, feeding on grouper which feed on herbivores which, in turn, eat algae. When there are fewer sharks to regulate the number of grouper, the grouper population will grow and, because a larger population of fish needs more food, will decimate the number of herbivores. With fewer herbivores, the algae will grow and take over the coral, putting the ecosystem out of balance and causing problems for its survival.

What is your greatest achievement?

The highlight of my career would have to be when I was featured in the BBC’s Andrea: Queen of Mantas in 2009. I was excited on the first night when over 2.8 million people tuning in to watch my story about mantas because I felt there were so many people who knew nothing about mantas before that evening who stopped to watch, listen and learn. I was contacted by hundreds of people the night the show aired and it was such a fantastic feeling to know I had reached the public and inspired people to learn about the fascinating manta ray and what can be done to protect them.

If you had to choose to give up diving or give up photography, what would you do?

Wow, that’s a hard question! Almost an impossible one. My camera really has become an extension of my arm. I rarely go underwater without it. Being able to capture image based data and develop media to create awareness about the animals we work on has defined my career. I am not sure how I would carry on without this tool. Having said that, the underwater world is my life. It goes beyond just passion, it is the only place where I really feel at home. Anytime I am injured, landlocked or unable to dive, I really suffer. It is where I recharge and where I find balance. It is unfathomable to imagine not regularly being underwater for work or for play, so yes I would certainly give up photography before I gave up diving.

What are your hopes for the future?

My hope for the future is that I can help safeguard mantas globally and try to protect some of their most important habitats from negative human impact. Through my science and photography, and the work of my team at the Marine Megafauna Foundation, I’m hoping to share my love for mantas and inspire people around the world to fall in love with these wonderful creatures. If people could experience the underwater world, they would not only appreciate our oceans so much more but also understand why it’s so important that we protect them.

Who supports you with your work?

I’m a co-founder of the marine conservation NGO Marine Megafauna Foundation where I have a talented team across the globe supporting me with my work. MMF’s vision is a world in which marine life and humans thrive together and we aspire to attain it by saving threatened marine life.

I am also a National Geographic Explorer and I am certainly proud to represent and work with this society as an explorer and conservationist. They provide an excellent platform allowing me to disseminate my work broadly and connect the public with our focal species.

Ultimately I am fortunate to have an explorer family. My husband Janneman Conradie is a conservationist, pilot and cameraman who travels the world with me along with our two year old daughter. There is certainly no substitute for having the support and shared passion of your family.

Are there any websites you’d like to recommend to our readers?

Manta

 

  • Manta Matcher is a great website for Citizen Scientists. If you’ve been scuba diving, snorkelling or swimming with manta rays, you can upload your photos to Manta Matcher to help scientists identify individual mantas and learn more about their behaviour.

  • The Gills Club is the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s education initiative which harnesses girls’ passion for sharks by giving them the opportunity to engage in projects focused on making an impact on the way sharks are perceived by the public and inspiring ocean conservation.

  • Sharks4Kids is a great education tool which aims to create a new generation of shark advocates through games, activities, info sheets and lessons that teachers can integrate into their science programmes.

For more information about Andrea, please visit: http://www.queenofmantas.com/about-andrea/

Escaping the rat race is something we all dream of from time to time. It takes an idea followed by action. It really is as simple as that although negative self-talk can stop that dream coming true. I hope you are inspired by Melissa’s story of leaving PR to pursue a dream in Africa. You could say she just dived in to a whole new life!

Rat Race

 

Tell us about your job and why you decided to make a lifestyle change

I’d been living and working in central London for nearly 10 years and – on the most part – absolutely loving it. It’s a vibrant city with so much going on and I’ve always enjoyed my job as a PR consultant and, more recently, a freelance journalist too. There are lots of different aspects involved in PR but, in a nutshell, I work with organisations to advise on their communications strategy and help them tell their story to the press.

My career has been pretty varied and, over the years, I’ve done everything from promoting new ice cream launches (yes, I spent a day visiting journalists in an ice cream van and, yes, it was fabulous!), organising celebrity interviews and red carpet photo shoots, raising awareness of charity fundraisers, responding to a crisis when something goes wrong, writing press releases about complicated travel technology developments, organising events and hosting journalists on press trips – and pretty much everything else you can think of in between.

People often comment that my job sounds really glamorous – and parts of it can be – but what goes on behind the scenes is far from glam: the long hours (at one point I was looking after 13 accounts), challenging clients, demanding journalists and tight deadlines mean stress levels are through the roof a lot of the time.

I knew I was at risk of burnout and, after just short of a decade in the city, I needed a change. With friends moving further out of the city and settling down to start a family, London was becoming more and more isolating. Plus, I absolutely hate the cold!

Being a scuba diver, I’ve always been drawn to the ocean and love spending time by the coast. I’ve often thought about relocating but usually just attributed it to “holiday blues” and there was always something keeping me in London: a job, a relationship, an upcoming promotion. Finally, last year, I decided to trust my gut and make the move – and it’s all fallen into place since then!

 How did it feel when you relocated?

 I’ve only been out here in Mozambique for two weeks so it’s all still pretty new but I’m really happy I made the decision to relocate. Since I decided to move to Africa, I’d been waiting for that “this is crazy – what am I doing?” moment to strike but it wasn’t until I was on the overnight flight to Maputo that it hit. I’d been so busy planning my trip that it hadn’t really sunk in that I was moving to a new country on my own. The nerves quickly passed, though, as it was something I’d been thinking about for a while and I knew deep down I was making the right decision for me.

Strangely, since I arrived, I’ve found I settled really quickly and already feel at home. The team has been really welcoming and it’s such a small town that you’re almost guaranteed to bump into a familiar face when you pop to the market, which makes a nice change from the Big Smoke!

 What are the joys?

 There’s something so wonderful about living by the ocean. I can nip down to the beach for a quick swim before work, go diving at the weekend or just sit and watch the sunset and chill. While we’re all working hard, I’ve got a much healthier work-life balance and I’m already feeling the stress of London life melting away.

The other joy is being able to help a cause so close to my heart: protecting our oceans. The Marine Megafauna Foundation – where I’m volunteering – is doing some really interesting work in the marine conservation sphere. As well as their research into ocean giants such as whale sharks and manta rays, they’re working with the local community to reduce unsustainable fishing practices and inspiring the local school children to protect the ocean by teaching them about marine conservation and running swimming lessons. Community engagement is vital here and it’s so interesting to meet some of the locals who are spearheading a change in behaviour.

There’s a lot to learn about the projects that are going on here but I’m excited to be able to help them shout about the incredible work they’re doing and make a real difference. It’s such a rewarding way to use my skills and expertise.

 What are the challenges?

 Life is very different here, of course: there’s no ATM in our town so you have to travel into the nearest city to get cash out and if there’s a storm we could lose power and internet for a day (which would have sent my London office into absolute chaos). I’ve found the easiest way to adapt is to just roll with things because there’s no point getting stressed about something you can’t change! In Mozambique you definitely have to be ready to adapt to difficulties outside of your control.

How did you find the volunteering opportunity and what attracted you to it?

 This role came up quite organically for me. I’d been thinking for some time about “quitting the rat race” and moving abroad but wasn’t sure where I’d go, what to do or even whether I’d want to leave PR altogether. Thinking he’d probably never reply, I took a punt and emailed MMF’s Co-Founder, Dr. Simon Pierce, for some advice and amazingly heard back from him not only with advice but with the opportunity to come to Mozambique and help the charity with its Comms. I was interviewed by the CEO and Mozambique’s Country Director before officially being offered the role.

As a scuba diver, finding an opportunity that let me use my PR expertise to help a cause I really care about (while living by the ocean, no less!) was a dream come true for me and, of course, I jumped at the chance.

Rat Race

 

MMF does advertise its vacancies too and we rely on volunteers from various different backgrounds from  research to accountancy, marketing and business development. If anyone is interested in the possibility of joining our team, you can take a look at our current positions here: https://marinemegafaunafoundation.org/volunteer-positions/.

If you have escaped the rat race and would like to share your story, please do get in touch.

Mudpie Fridays

Musings Of A Tired Mummy

Saving the planet by blogging might sound like quite an ambitious aim but if everyone does their bit, blogging can change the world for the better in so many ways. Today, I interview Lauren from Inspire Create Educate about how she is helping ordinary folk to work out how they can contribute to a better world for us and for future generations.

Saving The Planet

I met Lauren initially about two weeks after the loss of my lovely Dad. She was so friendly and made me feel at ease at a very challenging time. Over the years I have realised how very intelligent she is and it does not surprise me that she is one of the bloggers who is changing the world for real one baby step at a time. I am better off for having Lauren in my life.

Why did you start to blog?

I started blogging out of a desire to encourage more people to think about our planet. I think sometimes the message could be put across better. People shut down if the message reads as preachy, so I thought I’d try and deliver something that was more realistic to us normal people.

How did you feel when you started blogging?

Quite nervous! I’d blogged before on and off but not for a few years. So much has changed since I closed my last blog in 2014.

How do you feel about blogging today?

I’m still pretty nervous! It’s more of an ongoing, nervous excitement. I feel I achieved a lot since I launched in May 2017 and this year I know I’m going to achieve a whole lot more.

What is your proudest achievement related to blogging?

Being asked to speak at a green festival in the summer, and being recommended by the then deputy leader of Wales Green Party.

What is the most exciting event you have attended as a blogger?

It has to be BritMums Live 2017. It took on a completely different format this year compared to the older ones I went to.

Do you monetize your blog and, if so, how?

I do! Mostly offering VA work and the occasional sponsored post. I also use affiliate marketing (not great income but I did earn a Halloween bonus from Etsy) and scout for relevant media opportunities.

What do you find most challenging about blogging?

Putting myself out there on social media consistently. Even though I have a weekly Facebook live show, I still struggle with fraud syndrome. I take a minute to bury it and get on with my day, but it’s still always there in the background.

What surprised you most about blogging?

How much has changed in a short space of time, and how little our work is valued by others. Not just people I know in real life (“You mean you actually get paid for writing? Anybody can write!”) but people who want space on our blogs without paying fairly for it. Graphic designers will get paid. The PRs themselves will get paid. Bloggers are often expected to work for free, or very little.

How do you balance blogging and family life?

My daughter, who is home educated, gets on with her work throughout the day while I get on with mine. We chat, and I help when needed. My sons are still in infants and I stop working in time to get them from school every day. I would say I carry on in the evening when they’re asleep, but to be honest I’m too knackered to do anything that requires much thought after 9pm! Sometimes I work a few hours over the weekend, while they’re on the games consoles, but that’s kept to a minimum. The children all know what I do and pretend to understand it! My fiance is supportive, and we usually keep our evenings for each other. When we do feel like working in the evenings, we work alongside each other. He’s self-employed too so there’s always admin for him to do.

I switch days and hours around to suit whatever we’ve got going on (school plays, dates, home ed events) and make up the hours elsewhere when I can. I also try to work ahead when I can in case of illness or other obstacles. I love what I do – blogging has given me the freedom to be there for my family and earn at the same time!

What would lead to you giving up blogging?

I don’t think anything would… even if the money stopped being there, I would still want to get my voice out there. Everything that’s on my blog is there to help people be happier, healthier and greener; and the need for that isn’t going to go away if I stop being paid. I would have to make changes to how the blog was run if I needed to get a job, but I would definitely still be doing it.

I genuinely can’t think of anything, other than the internet going down forever. I’ll always have something to say and will always want to help. If the ‘net goes down… I’ll print a magazine!

What is your top tip for a new or inexperienced blogger?

Learning from other people’s mistakes will give you a great start. There are loads of blogging courses out there run by real bloggers who have been there. However, there is a danger of procrastinating by learning. If you find you’re not putting any of the new information into practice, it’s time to stop learning and start doing!

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I run a weekly mindfulness show on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/theincrediblog) and would love it if you tuned in. Every week we love the good moments, mind the bad and look forward to our future together; having an extra mindfulness task to bring you through the week. It’s called The Little Happy Journal Live, and it’s every Monday at 11am.

If you blog is involved in saving the planet or making the world a better place, I would love to hear your story and share it on my blog.

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