Biography of Ambition
For years I have been driven, pushed by the same drive that everyone has who feel compelled to a particular vocation, whether that’s art, politics, theatre or charity work. And we are in the exact place we have spent our attention getting ourselves to. Our lives are constantly made up of choices that lead us to a particular place, job, life. That is driven by us. So I am redirecting my attention back to my drive.
To save the world.
From my earliest memories that’s all I wanted from life. It was what I would say when anyone asked me what I wanted to do… from the age of four all the way up to twenty four. And for those twenty years the number of times I had eyes rolled, heard the words ‘idealist’ and was shrugged-off was hard but I refused to let go of my dream.
From the earliest days when I could begin to really see the sadness and destruction in the world outside of home I focused on how to change it. At that age my vision, though big, was limited so all that really came to show for my passion were a line of charity donation boxes by the front door.
When I could first start to write I began sending letters asking about how I could help each charity. Every year for ten years I wrote to Greenpeace… and in that time I received just one reply. It said “Thank you for your letter, but I’m afraid that you’re too young to help. We wish you all the best”. Too young? How can someone ever be too young to help to change the World? Was there really nothing I could have done? As an older, somewhat more mature individual I could think of a number of ways a child could help, through fundraising at school fairs, community events, carboot sales; by writing to politicians demanding more was done; by coming to events to show support and to hand out leaflets to peers.
I remained undeterred by their response, and continue to write, that is until I applied for employment with many environmental charities during my college years and into University. As history had foretold, I heard nothing. So the year I left University in 2008 with a BA (hons) in Law with International Relations I sent the last application I ever would to Greenpeace, and once again there was silence, it was also to be the last time I sent them any money. My investment, I decided, was going to be more discerning and action-driven by being steered towards on-the-ground projects and self education.
After completing my undergraduate degree in Law; in order to better understand how we could use law on the international level to protect the environment, I went on to volunteer with Groundwork; a community charity that helps create projects to maximize and utilize green spaces, for play, protection and public enjoyment. In this capacity I worked alongside local councils and had better insight into their management and daily activities in how they approach environmental and community based issues. From here I realized a greater need to go further with my education so I could be in the best place to work at a larger level and applied and was successful in getting on to a Masters course in International Environmental Law. I left a year later with a rarely attained distinction and the weight of cynicism on my shoulders. I fully understood the immensity of the environmental problems… and the depressing fact that not only do we have no laws protecting the global environment, and not many protecting the local, but that no one appeared to be responsible in the future of protection and innovation for the future.
Still I tried not to let my cynical standpoint affect my desire to make a difference and so I became General Manager for another charity Our Future Planet, which looked at how the community could come together to protect the local and global environment through discussion and personal action. In this capacity I sought to better unite charities towards the common aim at the heart of their individual ethos. None responded with enthusiasm or indeed any sense of agreement. So entrenched are they in their own aims, desires and fund-retention that the true purpose of their charity – to protect children, to support those with disabilities, to protect the environment – fell away. Efficiency, mutual support, collaboration and innovation is desperately needed in the charity sector to make strong and lasting difference.. but that is far from what is happening.
I then worked in the city as a legal analyst & expert, researcher and project manager for a sustainable consultancy company. Which only seemed to worsen my knowledge that not enough was being done, and to realise that the situation was far more tragic than I had initially realized. That companies were in fact doing little in terms of their environmental social and environmental responsibility.
My frustration and depression was further compounded by the inability for anyone to see that change was needed and to appreciate that there was a problem. I was continually met with ignorance, cynicism or outright rejection over the need to address the multiplying environmental problems that were on the rise.
And so I left. I understood that this was not my time to fight any longer.. I had invested 26 years and I was exhausted and wanted to focus on things outside of ‘making a difference’, I wanted to focus on being in the very thing I loved, nature. So I moved to the mountains and I spent every day for four years living, loving and learning from the mountains, from the stillness of the Earth, from its beauty and from my body. Exploring my capabilities, my strengths, my fears. But soon the environmental problems caught up with me. Twenty minutes down the road from where I lived was recorded as being one of the most polluted cities in Europe, and the pollution was affecting everyone. You can’t outrun a global problem, especially one that affects our very ability to survive.
And so I returned to the UK to pursue my interest of sustainability and a calling to come up with ways that we can unite to help tackle the global problems we face together.
And after years of nursing a desperate heart I made a change. I sought a different path. One not of despair but one of hope.
I still roll my eyes at the over-talking, over sustainability-selling efforts of companies who are pursuing certain ethical agenda's simply to make a profit. This is the greenwashing phenomena, where people, companies, entrepreneurs will sell a product on one ethical standpoint, ie organic, vegan, reuseable, recyclable or biodegradable and yet cause problems elsewhere. For example for years Pret A Manger provided 'recyclable' containers for all their food and yet in not one (for over 10 years) could I find a recycling bin. Another is that biodegradable products are no better if they are placed in the rubbish and that is what the vast majority of people do with these products at their end-of-life. And when biodegradable waste is placed in the rubbish it can’t degrade when there’s no earth for it to degrade into, so as they start to decompose they release high levels of methane.
So many people are now talking about the need to protect the environment, finally, but there is still no control for unfounded environmental claims, and there remains no concerted or coordinated effort to protect the environment, to create a more sustainable future and to actually assess the strength of ethical products. This needs to change. Its time to start acting together with direction, authenticity and passion.