So, your social media timelines are full of people splashing around in beautiful, remote-looking locations – coastlines, lakes, rivers and reservoirs – and this heatwave (read: climate crisis) has got you thinking maybe, just maybe, now is your time to start wild swimming. Cold water swimming is known to boost fitness, mood, the immune system and libido … and most importantly it’s heaps of fun! There are lots of places to swim that are closer than you might think, so even if you’ve never dipped your toes into wild water before, this short guide will give you the nudge you need to find a location and jump in… Or, rather, get in slowly and carefully depending on the location and temperature.
What do a shoe, a toothbrush and a tampon applicator all have in common? They are all examples of plastic washing up on beaches worldwide.
“I always play a game when we go to the beach: first one to find a shoe wins,” says Sophie Hellyer. “You’re always guaranteed to find a shoe at the beach.”
Hellyer certainly knows her beaches. A former professional surfer with British and English junior titles by the age of 15, she spent a decade travelling the world sponsored by leading surf brands.
But as her career progressed, Hellyer, disillusioned with the over-sexualising of women and increasingly driven by the desire to foster a more diverse and inclusive surfing culture, realised her work could have a wider impact: “Success for me is aligning my morals with my work and my lifestyle.”
“The rainforest is like my second mother,” says José Ribamar as he surveys the rich Amazonian landscape around us. “It provides the air that we breathe: we depend and live on the forest.” Clutching a 10-inch machete, he smiles as he wanders off down a dirt-track towards his home, a two-hour walk away. Behind him, children kick a football around a grassy clearing and a man clambers onto his horse.
Ribamar lives in the Brazilian state of Acre and works as a traditional seringueiro – he extracts wild rubber from the region’s native rubber trees. This morning he came to this remote glade in the forest, along with around 20 other local seringueiros, to discuss the future of his trade and the future of his forest. Both have been in danger for many decades due to cattle farming and illegal deforestation. However, thanks to a French shoe company, wild Amazonian rubber is back in demand.
Veja is an ethical footwear brand born in 2005. Co-founded by school friends Sébastien Kopp and François Ghislain Morillion, its goal is to create trainers that are ecologically conscious and fairly produced.
Last year I spent my birthday working on a feminist porn set with production company Sugar Town Girls.. I wrote the following about my experiences and why i think we need to make more porn, not less. Sorry mum.
It’s my 31st birthday and I’m a little out of breath from spending the morning inflating hundreds of black balloons. I’m stood beside an ornate bath tub in a disused pub, watching with a mixture of curiosity and self-consciousness as a woman wearing a strap-on penis has sex with a woman wearing deer antlers.
I’m spending the day working as a production assistant on the set of a feminist porn film, All Eyez On Me. The movie is a mix of non-narrative sequences, there’s no plot as such, instead creating what feels more like a music video, a dreamlike fantasy with constant visual changes.
Did you know that three quarters of UK children spend less time outdoors than prison inmates? There is a growing disconnect between the UK's young people and the natural world, and i feel it’s important to acknowledge that young people from BAME households visit their natural environment less often than white children or those from higher income families. I believe ALL young people should have the same access to the natural world and I’m confident those with a traditionally limited experience of the environment can become some of the strongest voices for its protection.
Get Out are a new charity that offer environmental education and outdoor adventure for free to the children of Tower Hamlets – the area with the highest rates of child poverty in the UK. Later this year we will hopefully be taking a group of kids from inner city London to the beach to surf, camp and of course do a #2minutebeachclean. Get Out are also working on Tower Hamlets becoming plastic free with Surfers Against Sewage and growing their own organic veg at the schools. But we need your help!
I just did a calculation that made me feel so sick. I added up the number of flights and air miles I’ve accumulated in the past year to determine my carbon footprint. On my last trip to Brazil alone, to research an ethical clothing manufacturer, I racked up eight flights in eight days, totalling more than 17,000 miles. I’m supposed to be a sustainability blogger – talk about irony.
The Swedish have invented a word for the guilt people like me increasingly feel about their air travel. ‘Flygskam’, which literally translates to ‘flight shame’ in English, means being embarrassed of flying because you’re environmentally ‘woke’ enough to know – and care – that the consequences are detrimental to the planet.
“First one to find a shoe wins!” I yell whenever I arrive at a beach. Along with tampon applicators, toothbrushes and other plastic waste, I seem to find odd shoes washed up on the shoreline so frequently that I've made it part of every beach-clean I do. It's actually quite concerning.
Most shoes are made of complex materials and glues which can only be down-cycled or thrown into landfill. It's a massive, global problem and thankfully manufacturers like Adidas are now seeking to tackle it …
It’s 10pm on a Sunday night and I’m lying in bed wondering if I need to bleach my anus. I’m a 31-year-old woman and a proud feminist but I’ve somehow fallen into a deep, dark Instagram hole. At least my labia don’t need tightening, I think to myself. Or do they?
So you want to start cold water swimming but the furthest you’ve got is dipping your toes in in August? You’re scared of the sea? You live in the middle of the city? Well, this guide is here to give you that extra nudge to just jump in. Or rather get in slowly and carefully depending on the location and temperature. Trust me, if you can get in the cold water, you can do almost anything. You got this.
This is the fourth in a series of overly honest product reviews. Seeing as you all seem quite interested in the goings on of my lady region I thought I’d throw my armpits into the mix too. I threw a poll on instagram asking who wanted to know more about The Natural Deo Co. and a whopping 97% of you answered “Yes Please I Smell”, so here you are.
And just a quick note to remind you this post is not sponsored, not paid, and no product was gifted (sigh).
It was dark and we were about to jump overboard into unchartered waters. Fortunately, the full moon lit up the shore a few hundred metres in the distance. Our little ‘dhoni’ boat had run aground on a shallow offshore reef in the Maldives and we had to sacrifice ourselves – the heaviest ‘cargo’ on the boat – with the hope that our lighter vessel would rise to safety with the next swell …
I finally get to share my TEDx talk with you. It’s about the power of social media to organise and promote environmental activism but in it I also manage to wave my mooncup around on stage, throw a tampon applicator at someone and say ‘poo’ three times.
I’ve included a manuscript below for people who are Deaf or have hearing impairments.
I recently partnered with the Australian haircare brand Evo to post a series of photos on Instagram for their ‘don’t buy it – beauty is abundant, not in a bottle’ global brand campaign. Evo continues to shake up the status quo in the hair industry and as part of the deal I somehow got them to agree to me posting a completely honest, unedited review of their products. Evo claim to be “an innovative, professional hair product manufacturer with individuality and integrity; a manufacturer that speaks the truth” so I figured they couldn’t really refuse. I'm not paid to say any of the following and it is not #spon or #ad – these are my actual opinions ...
Millican are a collective of conscious travellers, designing sustainable travel bags from natural and recycled materials. I caught up with the team at Millican to give some advice on plastic-free living as they begin their plastic free January in the offices.
As I walk along the litter-laden coastline of my local beach break clutching a beaten-up old surfboard held together largely with duct tape and good luck, I'm resigned to the notion that it's probably time for a new board.
However, I've been navigating the moral maze of being a surfer and environmentalist for several years now, and it turns out being both at the same time is not that easy. The problem is that, although surfing itself doesn't damage the environment, our common practices as surfers can have a huge carbon footprint and consumption is probably the biggest enemy to our oceans: buying a new board leaves me facing an environmental conflict. So I find myself asking: can we even get in the ocean without killing it?
Artificial waves have been around for more than 30 years, but commercially sustainable facilities still elude the industry and remain surfing’s Holy Grail: an environmentally friendly everlasting wave for an endless summer. Kelly Slater’s high-performance Surf Ranch is the latest and arguably greatest attempt to achieve this. It combines the latest science and engineering to create the longest rideable, man-made open-barrel wave in the world, set in Lemoore, California, a farming town 100 miles from the ocean. Ten years in the making, Slater’s wave pool technology allows competitors to surf without the risk of flat spells or interruptions from local sharks (the latter having become more common at recent surfing events in Australia and South Africa).
Is this the future of the sport or are we at risk of destroying the soul of surfing?
On a recent photoshoot in the Maldives with Torq Surfboards, I asked the brand if we could invite some local female surfers. I thought it would be great to add some diversity to the catalogue. When they agreed, I began to realise the scale of the challenge I had set myself. 'How many women even surf in the Maldives?' I wondered. Not many, it turns out.
Naaisha Haneef is one of a small crew of women who surf in the Maldives. Naaisha and I discussed her story on a humid morning between surfs, and the full interview is in this months Surf Girl Magazine.
There's a scene in Trouble, Lisa Andersen’s new film, where, over archival footage of her surfing Huntington Beach as a teen, she reflects on her early days as a competitive surfer. Andersen says: “I wanted to surf as good as the guys.” And here's the thing: Andersen did surf as good as the guys, butshe surfed in her own way – as a woman – too.
After watching Trouble and Surf Girls Jamaica at the London Surf Film Festival, I was inspired to write a piece about my role models as a young female surfer, and the importance they played in my life.
I’m really excited to announce my second retreat at The Cliffs Of Moher Retreat Centre, running April 7th - 12th 2019.
This is your chance to immerse yourself in rural West Ireland, embrace the outdoors and to blow away the cobwebs while stretching your body, calming your mind and soothing your soul. This retreat experience is aimed at empowering women to discover their passions and creating lasting change. During this 5-night retreat, through a balance of yoga, outdoor adventure and relaxation, we will take care of the agenda so you can really let go and enter into retreat mode.
This is the second in a series of overly honest product reviews, bought to you by some cringe worthy experiences, one mention of my labia and a small amount of credit card debt.
After the disconcerting success of my period pants and mooncup review in which you can read about my grazed labia here, I thought it best to continue on with product reviews that may also be useful to those of you wondering whether to make a purchase or not.
I recently bought a metal ‘safety razor’ and had quite a few questions and requests for reviews about it, so here goes, overly honest product reviews take two.
Side Note: I'm not paid to say this and it is not #spon or #ad.
Surf Girl Magazine interviewed me for their latest magazine, we talked about changes in the surfing industry, the people who inspire me and my rise fierce tribe. You can pick up a copy in WHSmiths or zoom in and squint to try and read it below...
Caster Semenya, the 800m runner who won Olympic gold at London 2012, has been unfairly discriminated against for years because she challenges perceptions of what it is to be a woman by daring to have a testosterone level higher than the average.
Last week, over 60 professional athletes, with fairly impressive sporting titles from two-time Olympic gold medallists to world champions, penned an open letter from Athlete Ally and Women’s Sports Foundation demanding the IAAF rescind their flawed discriminatory testosterone policy.
I stand firmly alongside these athletes in the pursuit of an equitable and inclusive athletic experience
Spot the difference? Same ocean, same waves, same result, half the money. If you think the gender pay gap isn’t real, look again. Last week, this photo at the Billabong Ballito Surfing Pro Junior Event in South Africa showing female surfer Zoe Steyn taking home just half the money of her male counterpart went viral.
I have less two weeks before I wake up at the slightly more daunting age of 31. Turning 30 didn’t bother me at all, I leapt into it with a big smug smile on my face, a bottle of organic prosecco, a handsome man by my side and a bonfire surrounded by my friends. 31 feels a little more ominous for some reason. I have that threatening impression I should be more by now, I should have more, I should do more. I’m creeping up towards 40 with none of the things in order that my 20 year old self naively thought I would have in order. Instead of flying into an inauspicious panic, I sat down to write down all the things I’ve learnt in the last year.
I occasionally worry that my overt honesty will have me ostracised completely, but in the mean time let me impart my wisdom on you here…
A lot of you have been asking about my swimwear over the past few months, so I thought I’d update and repost my sustainable swimwear guide. I try to buy everything I wear consciously and not fall into the consumerism trap too often (all though I'm occasionally slip up and find myself on the high street).
Side Note: This is not an ad. I don’t have any sponsors and I pay for all my swimwear, these are just genuinely the brands I wear and love. In no particular order...
This is the first in a series of overly honest product reviews, bought to you by some cringe worthy experiences, one photo of my bum and a small amount of credit card debt.
After sharing my mooncup woes a lot of you requested feedback on my knickers, because, lets be honest now, how many pairs of your regular underwear has aunt flo destroyed? I know, i know. ALL. OF. THE. PAIRS. Including that very favourite pair that I refuse to throw away, even with the stains.
So here goes, the first in the series of overly honest product reviews is the much awaited, worryingly frequently requested, she thinx period panties. I'm sharing this because 100 million girls are missing school just because of their periods. Lets break the period taboo.
I was really happy to see Chelsea FC making progressive steps toward gender equality in the news last week with the name change of their club from Chelsea Ladies FC to Chelsea FC Women. After reading some news that seemed to skim passed the change like it wasn't important, and a couple of articles that began to look a bit deeper into the issue, I wrote an opinion piece that delved a bit further into explaining the importance of language when talking about women's sport and female athletes.