Lonely Whale Interview

Recently, Eco-Youth had the amazing opportunity to have an email interview with Mindy Ramaker, the Creative Producer at Lonely Whale. We are so honored to work with such a hard working and determined organization. Lonely Whale has made outstanding strides in helping improve the conditions of the oceans and the environment.

“We live in a lonely, plastic world. But together we can change that.” -Lonely Whale

1. What is Lonely Whale? How was it founded? What issues does it address and what is its main goal(s)?

Actor-Activist Adrian Grenier and producer Lucy Sumner founded Lonely Whale in 2015 with the intent of bringing the ocean closer to everyone. The ocean – which covers 71% of the earth’s surface, containing 97% of the earth’s water and 99% of the planet’s living space – is at the heart of everything that we do. Today, Lonely Whale is a nonprofit that develops digital campaigns that reconnect us to each other by encouraging behavior change away from single-use plastic and toward a healthy, thriving ocean.

2. What is the story of “Blue 52”?

In 1992, off the coast of Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, the Navy picked up an unusual sound. It pulsed onto the graph pages at the frequency of 52 hertz. On paper, the vocalizations looked like they belonged to a blue whale. Except a blue whale’s call usually registers between 15 and 20 hertz. At 52 hertz, this call was off the charts! So far off that no other whale was known to communicate at that pitch. Because male whales often sing for companionship and this song was the only of its kind, it was theorized that 52 Blue was the world’s loneliest whale, calling out and never receiving a reply.

​The legend of 52 Blue inspired us to answer that call, to work on behalf of the ocean, and empower others to do the same.

3. Recently Lonely Whale has created their new podcast 52 Hertz: The Lonely Whale Podcast. What’s the goal of this podcast? What typically happens during this podcast? Is there a specific audience you wish to target?

​During a time of social distancing, ​social unrest, and increased eco-anxiety, the need for positive, solution-based stories that represent diverse topics and voices is greater than ever. ​We launched 52 Hertz to create community and connection during ​this time, and to give people an uplifting ​take on environmentalism.

Inspired by our namesake Lonely Whale, the podcast allows us to go back to our roots and listen to what our community has to say. Eco-activist and actor Petrice Jones hosts Season One, titled Against the Current. The 12-episode season focuses on the people, topics, and current events that are challenging the status quo. Against The Current showcases a diverse set of individuals​ from youth activists to industry professionals—all redefining what it means to be an “environmentalist.” 

​Some recent episodes include: 

Wanjiku “Wawa” Gatheru, an environmental justice advocate calling for the movement to center the experience and expertise of frontline people of color

Youth activist Dyson Chee, an 18-year-old youth environmental policy activist from Oahu, Hawaii

Adrian Grenier, Lonely Whale’s co-founder, discussing eco-anxiety, the plastic crisis overwhelming our ocean, and how building community is the first step to healing ourselves and our Earth

4. As Eco-Youth primarily fights climate change, how does Lonely Whale target this topic? In your words, how does cleaning and caring for the ocean contribute to fighting climate change?

Covering about 70% of the Earth’s surface, the ocean has an intricately linked relationship with the climate crisis. 

In addition to generating the majority of the oxygen we breathe, ​the ocean ​also captures ​excess carbon dioxide and help​s​ regulate ​global ​temperature​s​.

Because of the increasing greenhouse gas emissions and resulting carbon dioxide, our ocean is not only becoming warmer and more acidic, but it is also de-oxygenating. Climate change weakens the ocean’s ability to provide food, store carbon, generate oxygen, regulate extreme weather, and serve as a nature-based solution to climate change.

B​y taking care of the ocean we help combat climate change.​

5. With what degree of seriousness should people be approaching topics such as climate change, and how can people start changing their mindset towards this topic?

The issue of climate change is incredibly serious, but that doesn’t mean we have to approach it that way. At Lonely Whale we take information that may be overwhelming and dark, and come up with ways to make it understandable and empowering.

Our goal is to change the narrative and mindset towards the topic of climate change. We want people, especially young people, to understand there are things they can do every day to make a positive change for our planet and their futures.

A tip Steff McDermott, one of our young podcast guests, shares that speaks to changing mindsets is to “connect your passion to the environment.” You don’t have to work for an environmental organization to make a difference. You don’t have to become something you’re not, or go into a field you’re not interested in. Take what you are already good at, what you’re already interested in, and connect that to the environment. There are infinite fun, creative ways to help protect our ocean and our planet.

6. Should schools start instilling classes that cover topics like climate change, so that the youth can get a better grasp as to what is happening out in the world?

Absolutely! The next generation will be most impacted by the plastic pollution crisis. In fact, many young people will graduate or start their first jobs in 2025, the same year the ocean is expected to contain more plastic than fish! Our education system could help equip the next generation with the knowledge and language to craft solutions. ​

That knowledge should be available to everyone ​because climate change affects everyone. And as we champion environmental literacy in general education, it’s important to remember what Wawa Gatheru, talks about on the podcast: Environmental education needs to center BIPOC voices, especially frontline people of color who are impacted first and worst by climate change. 

​I also encourage young people to seek opportunities to learn about environmental issues outside of the classroom, such as the annual Ocean Heroes Bootcamp organized by Captain Planet Foundation, Lonely Whale and Point Break Foundation​. ​The bootcamp​ empower​s​ existing and emerging youth leaders, ages 11 to 18, to create their own campaigns to take action against ocean plastic pollution.

7. Your campaign #Stop[ped]Sucking was a huge success! What great things does Lonely Whale plan to do next?

Thank you so much! Lonely Whale spearheaded the global movement to eliminate the use of plastic straws after “Strawless in Seattle,” which resulted in the permanent removal of more than 2.5 million plastic straws in Seattle in just one month while ushering in policy change in cities across the U.S. “Strawless” is on track to remove an estimated 15 billion single-use straws from circulation.

Right now, we’re focused on our “Question How You Hydrate” campaign which includes the #HydrateLike social challenge and Museum of Plastic. This campaign has served as a catalyst for Facebook, the United Nations Headquarters, 2019 Global Citizen Festival and the San Francisco International Airport to ban single-use plastic water bottles. The campaign caught the attention of Pepsi and Coca-Cola to announce plans to switch from plastic bottles to aluminum cans for leading brands Aquafina and Dasani.

We’re also working with multinational corporations through NextWave Plastics, which brings together companies to develop the first global network of ocean-bound plastics supply chains. These companies, some of which are competitors, work together to turn off the tap on plastic pollution – keeping plastic in the economy and out of the ocean.

As the plastic pollution crisis continues to grow and evolve and the world continues to adapt to COVID-19, we are active participants in conversations and strategies that ensure the plastic industry doesn’t exploit the pandemic to increase plastic production.

8. Do you have any advice to people who want to fight climate change but don’t know where to start? What advice can you give for newer organizations, like Eco-Youth, that will help grow their platform and gain a bigger audience?

Have optimism. Even the smallest gestures can have a big impact, so we’d encourage you to start small and work on changing little things you do every day and make them more sustainable. 

We also encourage youth to get involved in Ocean Heroes Bootcamp by joining the Ocean Heroes Network, a global community of youth working year-round towards clean seas and against plastic pollution. Ocean Heroes Bootcamp has trained more than 1,000 global youth how to develop and execute their campaigns with the ultimate goal of supporting 10,000 campaigns by the end of 2025. The unique campaigns created by Ocean Heroes support the achievement of UN SDG 14.1 by 2025.

We are a very small team at Lonely Whale, so for organizations looking to grow their impact, we really think partnering with creatives, scientists, brands, influencers and other organizations like yours are some the best way to create change around the world. 

9. How can people help and support Lonely Whale from home without monetary donations? Where can people learn more about Lonely Whale?

You can support us by visiting www.lonelywhale.org or following @LonelyWhale.

For more information on Ocean Heroes virtual Bootcamp, visit www.oceanheroeshq.com. You can also connect with Ocean Heroes HQ on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Listeners interested in tuning out plastic and tuning in to Lonely Whale’s 52 Hertz podcast can check out the trailer, Season One and future episodes here.

What is Eco-Anxiety and How Does One Manage it?

Check out KaurSpace’s article on eco-anxiety

A lot of young people today are affected by eco-anxiety, but don’t know it. Simply put, eco-anxiety is the anxiety to or extreme fear of humans’ relationship with the environment and climate change. While it is not an official mental disorder, it is still very real.

How does Eco-Anxiety manifest?

Constant media coverage of environmental destruction and evidence of just how bad climate change really is can be extremely overwhelming. Even being affected by extreme weather such as hurricanes, flooding, drought, and more can cause eco-anxiety. According to  Medical News Today, “For some people, the increase in environmental crises is not only frustrating, frightening, and shocking, but also a source of constant or debilitating anxiety. People may also feel guilty or anxious about the impact that their or their generation’s behavior may have on the environment and that of future generations.”

Who is affected?

Eco-Anxiety does not affect all people equally. It tends to affect people who are younger (such as Gen Z and Millenials) and will have to deal with the permanent repercussions. It also affects indigenous communities and people who are currently losing resources and having their homes destroyed by natural disasters. 

How to Know if You Have Eco-Anxiety

There is no medical definition of eco-anxiety. But if you feel sad, angry, frustrated, helpless, and overall stressed about climate change you likely have eco-anxiety. 

How Do You Manage Eco-Anxiety?

  1. Take Action: Taking some form of action can reduce feelings of anxiety. An example of taking action could be protesting, signing petitions, and going to clean-ups.
  2. Getting Educated on Climate Change: A lot of news and media will overdramatize headlines to get people to click on their article. Educating yourself beyond the headline can help to reduce eco-anxiety.
  3. Connecting With Nature: If you foster a stronger connection with the environment, you can gain a greater appreciation for how it is now.
  4. Being More Active: Hiking, canoeing, simply going for a walk not only connects you with nature but helps your mental health in general.
  5. Try to Prevent Water/Energy Being Wasted: Simply turning off lights or turning the faucet off while brushing your teeth can have a huge effect on the amount of waste produced from your home.

Climate change is very real and dangerous,but unfortunately, not one person alone can  stop it. Keep that mind when feeling stressed about climate change: that as long as you try your best you are doing amazing! Please do not let eco-anxiety consume life with fear, rather use it as fuel in this ongoing fight against climate change. 

Sources:

Plautz, Jason. “Eco-Anxiety Is Overwhelming Kids. Where’s the Line between Education and Alarmism?” The Washington Post, WP Company, 3 Feb. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2020/02/03/eco-anxiety-is-overwhelming-kids-wheres-line-between-education-alarmism/?arc404=true

“Eco-Anxiety: What It Is and How to Manage It.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327354#summary

Watson, Stephanie. “How Eco-Anxiety Works.” HowStuffWorks Science, HowStuffWorks, 22 June 2020, science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/eco-anxiety.htm.

Easy Ways to Help Fight Climate Change

Climate change is a ginormous issue, so it’s easy to get discouraged when it comes to fighting it. However, there are countless things you can do at home to help. Some of these things not only help fight climate change, but can also save you time and money. 

  1. Turn Off Your Lights

According to NSTAR,”29% of energy use in non-residential buildings is used for lighting. If you turn off the lights whenever you leave a room, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 0.15 pounds per hour.” Instead of turning lights on during the day, consider letting natural light in by opening the window. In the long run, you’ll be saving light bulbs, money, and the planet.

  1. Save water

Only 2% of the earth’s water is safe for human consumption, and that same water is being polluted. To prevent people from getting sick, this water is pumped and filtered 24/7 to meet the needs of everyone. On average, 2 gallons of water flow through a faucet each minute. Simply turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth can save up to 4 gallons of water per person a day. This would eventually add up to over 1,000 gallons of water a year. Not wasting water saves you money and helps fight climate change.

  1. Consider Purchasing Solar Panels

Solar power is a 100% clean, renewable energy source. As long as the sun is out, your home will be powered, without releasing any greenhouse gases. The average savings for a New Jersey resident over 20 years is $23,000.

  1. Ride a Bike or Walk More

Walking and/or riding a bike releases no greenhouse gases, reduces noise pollution, and reduces congestion. It provides a great workout for your whole body. Not to mention, it’s fun!

  1. Vote

One of the easiest ways to help the environment is to vote for candidates who will actively help fight climate change. Especially this year with the upcoming presidential election, it has never been more important to get out there and vote!

Sources:

Composting 101

Over 22% of discarded solid waste sent to landfills is food. You may think that it is a good thing because now the food has a chance to decompose into the earth. Unfortunately, this is not the case. When food waste is properly composted, it will produce carbon dioxide, fertilizer for new plants, and a good home for worms. Landfills are extremely toxic places with plastic or clay lining on the bottom. So when food is sent to the landfill it will end up generating tons of methane gas and doesn’t provide any benefits. If everyone in the U.S. alone composted their wasted food, it would have the same environmental impact as removing 7.8 million cars off the road according to the Composting Council. When you compost you not only gain fertilizer for you plants, but you help lower your carbon footprint!

How to Set Up a Garden Compost Bin According to the EPA

  1. Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
  2. Add brown* and green* materials as they are collected. Make sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded.
  3. Moisten dry materials as they are added.
  4. Once your compost pile is established, mix grass clippings and green waste into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material.
  5. Optional: Cover top of compost with a tarp to keep it moist.

When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use. This usually takes anywhere between two months to two years.

*Browns (carbon-based materials like dead leaves, branches, twigs, brown paper, newspaper)

*Greens (nitrogen-based materials like grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, coffee grounds)

Waste For Composting

  • Fresh grass clippings
  • Flowers – stems should be chopped up; however, don’t use diseased plants.
  • Nettles act as good natural activators.
  • Vegetable and fruit peelings
  • Vegetable crop residue, such as potato and tomato plants.
  • Young weeds, but avoid perennials.
  • Herbivore manure, such as from horses, cows, and rabbits.
  • Tea leaves, but tea bags will take longer to break down.
  • Dead or fallen leaves – use only small amounts
  • Shredded paper
  • Coffee grounds and filter – use only paper filters
  • Cardboard torn into small pieces
  • Woody hedge clippings and twigs ideally put through a shredder
  • Sawdust mixed well with more aerated material
  • Herbivore bedding, such as hay and straw
  • Eggshells washed and crushed up
  • Hair – either human or animal hair since both are high in nitrogen
  • 100 percent wool or cotton cut into small pieces or tumble-dryer lint
  • Vacuum-bag contents, but use common sense as to what has been picked up
  • Wood ash in small quantities

What Not to Compost

  • Meat and fish (cooked and raw) can harbor disease and attract vermin.
  • Dog and cat feces can harbor disease.
  • Cat litter will normally contain feces.
  • Glossy magazines contain too many inorganic chemicals.
  • Barbecue coals and coal ash contain harmful sulfur oxides.

Sources:

“Composting At Home.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 13 Nov. 2019, www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home.

Lauren. “How to Set Up a Kitchen Compost the Easy Way: Zero Waste Memoirs.” The Zero Waste Memoirs, 27 Apr. 2020, zerowastememoirs.com/baby-step-5-kitchen-compost/ 

Organicsociety. “Composting Tips – How to Setup Your Own Compost.” The Organic Society, 29 Mar. 2018, www.organicsociety.co/composting-tips-how-to-setup-your-own-compost/ 

“Sustainable Management of Food Basics.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 19 June 2020, www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/sustainable-management-food-basics. “What Happens To Food Scraps That Are Thrown Away?” Basmati, 24 Dec. 2017, basmati.com/2016/12/01/what-happens-food-scraps-are-thrown-away `

Are Leggings Hurting People and the Planet?

The simplest answer: yes, they are. It’s a hard concept to wrap your head around. How could something so simple and so comfortable be killing the planet and people? Well, it’s not the leggings fault it’s material that they are constructed from. (It’s also important to note that leggings are not to blame for all environmental issues.)

Leggings, and anything that is made from nylon or polyester, are made from synthetic material that shed microscopic plastic fibers – called microfibers. When you wash clothes in the washing machine the microfibers are released into the wastewater system. From there, the water from the wastewater system is flushed into natural waterways which eventually reaches the sea.

At first glance it may seem like these microfibers are harmless. But in reality, these plastics are extremely dangerous for everyone. They can be found in beer, salt, seafood, sugar, alcohol, and honey. We ingest so many things that contain microfibers, that the average eats microfibers every single day. A study at King’s College in London hypothesized that the cumulative effect of ingesting plastic could be toxic. Some plastics are made from chemicals like chlorine, and some others can pick up chemicals like lead. The overall build-up of these toxins over time could affect the immune system. Eating seafood that contains microfibers could damage the stomach’s balance. Scientists still do not completely understand the impact of microfibers on the body, but they do know that these impacts are not good.

Now, you should not go boycotting leggings and every single brand that uses nylon or polyester. Those materials are essentially cheap and effective, so of course, a lot of brands are going to opt to use them. If you would like to avoid releasing microfibers into the waters there are actually a few things you can do. It’s very difficult to find leggings that have that classic stretch but don’t release microfibers. Instead, you can put a microfiber filter on your washing machine, or put a microfiber laundry ball in during every wash to prevent all microfibers from being released from your home’s wastewater system into natural waterways. It is the small actions that can hopefully lead to a better environment and overall planet.

Check out this informational video on micro plastics !: https://youtu.be/BqkekY5t7KY

Sources:

“Dangers of Microfibres and Microplastics.” The Thames Project, http://www.thethamesproject.org/dangers-microfibres-microplastics/.

Gibbens, Sarah. “You Eat Thousands of Bits of Plastic Every Year.” The Average Person Eats Thousands of Plastic Particles Every Year, Study Finds, National Geographic , 5 June 2019, http://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/06/you-eat-thousands-of-bits-of-plastic-every-year/.

Press, Associated. “Yoga Pants Are Destroying the Earth.” New York Post, New York Post, 26 July 2017, nypost.com/2017/03/15/yoga-pants-are-destroying-the-earth/.

What is Climate Change?

SHORT ANSWER- To put simply, climate change is the change in average worldly conditions that includes but is not limited to extreme weather, temperature, wildfires, etc. Climate change directly affects the quality of life for people around the world and destroys the environment. We can no longer wait idly by while our world is crumpling around us.

To understand climate change, you must first understand what causes it. Certain gases within the Earth’s atmosphere cause it to act like a greenhouse, effectively trapping the sun’s heat and preventing it from leaking into space. These gases are called Greenhouse gases and they include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluoridated gases. Most of these gases occur naturally, but due to human activity these gases have increased tremendously. Carbon dioxide is predominantly produced by humans burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gases) and accounts for 64% of man-made global warming. Methane is responsible for 17% along with nitrous accounting for 6%. While it is the greenhouse gases that causes the planet to heat up, it is human activity that causes the amount of gases to spike.

Human Activity that Cause Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Rise:

  • Burning coal, oil and gas produces carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.
  • Deforestation – Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When the trees are cut down in excess, these trees actually release the carbon they have absorbed. Not only does it lose the benefit of removing carbon from the atmospher, but it actually increases the amount.
  • Increase in live stock farming – Animals – especially cows, pigs, and sheep – produce large amounts of methane when the digest their food.
  • Fertilizers that contain nitrogen produce nitrogen oxide.
  • Fluoridated gases – cause a very strong warming effect (23,000x greater then carbon dioxide) and do not occur naturally. They are created for products we use everyday like fridges and aerosol cans. Luckily, this type of gas is released in smaller quantities than other gases.

At first glance, it may just seem like all that climate change is doing is making the planet warmer. When this is not the case, climate change directly affects every living thing on the planet.

Observable Impacts of Climate Change:

  • Water – With temperatures rising, access to clean water is being increasingly difficult for people all over the world, specifically in the West and Alaska. On the other side of the spectrum, places in the Midwest have experienced an increase in heavy downpours causing floods and ruining water quality.
  • Food – Food supply relies on the climate and weather conditions. Since the weather is becoming more inconsistent, it’s hard to not only grow crops but to raise live stock.
  • Human Health – Changes in the environment are expected to have a direct impact on human health. This impact may include an increase in waterborne diseases, poor air quality, heat stress, and an increase in diseases transmitted by insects and rodents.
  • Ecosystems – Flowering and egg laying are shifting in timing, resulting in the species either dying and/or altering their ecosystems.
  • Oceans – Oceans absorb around 30% of the carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere, resulting in the ocean being more acidic which alters marine life. With glaciers melting due to rising temperatures, sea levels are rapidly rising. This may cause a greater risk of erosion and storm surge, in addition to multiple places being completely flooded.
  • Increase in Extreme Weather – Rising temperatures alone greatly affect the weather, but the change in sea levels and deforestation is causing extreme weather to rise. 69% of extreme weather event trends were found to be made likely and/or serve due to human caused climate change.
  • Animals – The climate is changing at such a rapid pace that animals are not having a chance to adjust to the new climate patterns (varied rainfall, longer hotter summers, etc). The ecosystems and habitats are being destroyed, effectively taking away any place for these animals to live. Leaving an unprecedented amount of animals endangered or extinct.

Photos of Global Warming Impacts

As of 2019, we had 11 years to solve climate change before it became irreversible. One year later and no changes have been made to help fight this growing issue. Again, we can no longer wait idly by while our world is crumpling around us. It is time we start demanding action before it’s too late.

Sources:

Anonymous. “Causes of Climate Change.” Climate Action – European Commission, 28 June 2017, ec.europa.eu/clima/change/causes_en.

“Climate Change Impacts.” Climate Change Impacts | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, http://www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/climate/climate-change-impacts.

“Climate Policy Info Hub.” Fluorinated Gases | Climate Policy Info Hub, climatepolicyinfohub.eu/glossary/fluorinated-gases.

“Mapped: How Climate Change Affects Extreme Weather around the World.” Carbon Brief, 21 Apr. 2020, http://www.carbonbrief.org/mapped-how-climate-change-affects-extreme-weather-around-the-world.

NASA. “The Causes of Climate Change.” NASA, NASA, 14 Apr. 2020, climate.nasa.gov/causes/.

NASA. “What Is Climate Change?” NASA, NASA, climatekids.nasa.gov/climate-change-meaning/.

“Only 11 Years Left to Prevent Irreversible Damage from Climate Change, Speakers Warn during General Assembly High-Level Meeting | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases.” United Nations, United Nations, http://www.un.org/press/en/2019/ga12131.doc.htm.

Richards, Photograph by Cory, and Photograph by Michael Melford. “What Is Global Warming?” What Is Global Warming, Facts and Information?, 25 Feb. 2019, http://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/global-warming-overview/#close.