In the Neighbourhood- Project Blue
I first learned of Project Blue almost exactly two years ago, when my then 14 year old daughter showed me her Instagram feed with the photo above, saying "Mum, you should check these guys out. Look how awesome they are." So, I joined their feed and immersed myself in their project through pictures, humour, and devotion. Their tone has remained positive, even though the topic they are documenting is troubling. They are creatively looking for solutions through education, change, documentation, and inspiration. They are bringing their story to life via a film project.
Since then I have spoken with Founder Savannah Walker twice, touching base with her on how they were going and what they needed. They were in Malaysia filming as all Kiwis were called home just ahead of lockdown. They are now in New Zealand working to finish editing the work of the past year. Below is their story and how you can be involved.
Project Blue- by Savannah Walker
What is Project Blue?
Project Blue is a group of youth aged between 18-25 who are passionate about our ocean and saving it from plastic waste. We are known to spend more time in the water than out of it. We are in the process of creating a film that documents our work as a group trying to eliminate plastic waste at the source. We work with businesses to start a conversation around what they do and why they do it in regards to their packaging systems so that together we can figure out a way forward to move them away from unrecyclable plastic packaging and towards a circular system.
Why did you create Project Blue?
People often talk about one moment that happened in their life that changed their whole perspective, for me this moment took place on a trip through Cambodia. I created Project Blue because whilst I was overseas, I not only saw the detrimental effects that plastic pollution was having on the environment, but I was a part of it. I went into a convenience store in a very remote part of Cambodia and I bought an item wrapped in plastic. While I happily consumed the food in the shop I asked the person running the store where I could put this plastic wrapper I had finished with, and they took it out of my hand, scrunched it into a ball, and threw it into the paddock next door.
That was the first time I had seen my consumption directly impact the natural world. Upon returning home and doing some research into where our countries waste was ending up, and finding out that we were exporting it to others to deal with, I knew that something had to be done. That's when Project Blue was born.
Who else is behind it?
We have a really awesome team behind PB with over 20 people from around NZ who all share the same love for the big blue. The team is filled with photographers, filmmakers, students studying at university for things like Law, Marine Biology, Environmental Sciences, Graphic Design, and so on. We are an extremely diverse bunch, we even have a Plumber, Nurse, and Paramedic in the mix.
How do you create change?
It's no lie that we are producing far too much plastic in the world than what we can deal with. According to a report from the Guardian, an estimated 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s – that's equivalent to the weight of more than 800,000 Eiffel Towers.
Only 9% of all plastic that has ever been produced has been recycled. That is an alarming statistic in itself. That's why our mission is to help aid in companies stopping plastic pollution at the source. If we can reinvent the way we produce and consume, it will have a huge positive impact on the environment that plastics are currently accumulating in.
What has been your impact so far?
To quantify your impact on the world can be tricky, we are no exception to that. It's not like we have a petition running that can spit out a number as to how many people agree with our idea. We also don't produce any products that would gauge a response to our impact. For sure by the end of our film we would be able to calculate how many units of plastic the companies we have worked with have bypassed, or the number of tickets we are able to sell when our film is out. But I think our impact is more important than that. It's about the people who have acknowledged us when we walk into a cafe with our reusable cups with the question 'are you from Project Blue?' or the guy who came up to us at a concert to tell us that he loves and really appreciates the work that we do. It's the school children who have asked us to come to give talks at their school or the pupils who suggested Project Blue be the recipient of their gala money. It's our parents who have seen the work that we are doing and have them change their own habits because of it.
These are all impacts that you can't quantify because you don't know what effect this Project has had on the mindset of people who are watching it grow. I think that's a pretty beautiful thing and just goes to show that the work you do has the ability to inspire or give hope to others, without even knowing it.
What moment are you most proud of?
Reflecting on everything we have done at Project Blue, I think some of the proudest moments for myself are receiving such awesome responses from people and companies we want to include in our film. When the team goes and meets these people, the conversation that always follows is how inspired these people and companies feel when we leave. I think that's a true testament to how passionate we all are. If we can leave people feeling amped and excited about being a part of the solution to plastic waste, that's a job well done.
I say this often, but If I was to go back to when Project Blue was first created, and someone told me that we would accomplish all that we have to this date, I would think that we had reached the highest point, that we couldn't possibly achieve anymore. But like most people, when you reach milestones you have not a moment to think about it because it's always onto the next thing or the next job that you need to do.
Leading a team of 6 awesome people to Hawaii to interview conversationalists Ocean Ramsey, Juan Oliphant, Kahi Pacarro were all big accomplishments for us. Standing on Kalimo Point, one of the most polluted beaches in Hawaii after carrying out months of research on it was another one. Our Greenpeace speech, our campaign to one of the big 4 surf brands, the companies and the people we already have on board, not to mention all the filming we have done and the really exciting filming coming up in the near future, these are all things that we are proud of.
The proudest moment for me though is every time our team gets together. The friendships that have formed from a group of strangers and the love for something much bigger than ourselves shows me that we all have the ability to work together and do good, to protect a place we love.
Ultimately, what do you want your impact on the world to be?
Our impact is simple; to save the place we love from plastic, while also showing the power of a group of people coming together to help fix a problem. We all understand that plastic pollution is only one part of a huge interconnected web of problems, that's why when our film is out, all proceeds will be going towards mentoring and funding other grassroots groups like us tackling issues. To help foster and grow the development of a truly sustainable future. The most important thing we hope to highlight throughout this film is that we were a bunch of strangers from very different backgrounds, who see a problem and want to be a part of the solution. There is no denying the power of a bunch of people getting together to produce a common goal, we hope to show others that if we can do it, they can do it too.
What do you need?
As you can imagine, making a film is not only extremely time consuming, it's also pretty costly too. We currently have an animation bill for $17,000 that we are working towards paying. So if you are a business that needs some photography work done in exchange for money to pay for our animations, or just wants to help us out with that side of things, we would love to hear from you!
If you could give everyone reading three tips on how to live a life with less impact, what would they be?
- Use whatever resources you have to give back to the world. If those who have the ability to give more did so, imagine how much better off the world would be.
- Don't underestimate the power of an email, a phone call, an Instagram message. If you want a corporation to change, let them know about it. You'd be surprised at how much they really do care about your opinion, especially if you are a customer.
- Don't get discouraged. I went through a period of this myself, thinking that even if we do try to create positive change, the impact still won't be big enough. Have faith that those around the world are doing what they can too. The problems our race faces are far bigger than one person can accomplish alone. When we join together and work together, the ball will start rolling.
These blue glass jars are designed by my sister-friend of more than 30 years, Kayden from Blue Bottle Love. I brought in 24 bottles to give to my dearest friends and family, and have only 6 left. For the past 2 years, we have used 2 of Kayden's bottles daily, adding them to our family water bottles each day. We call them "smooth water" or prayer water.
Love and Gratitude are the two strongest forces in the Universe, and both have a very high frequency. Together they are some of the strongest frequencies for empowering your water, according to the research done by Dr. Masuru Emoto, author of The Hidden Messages of Water. Dr Emoto's research talks to the effect that symbols, words as well as our thoughts have on water.
With the little heart over the 'i' representing Love, we invite you to enjoy the power of Love and Gratitude infused into your water daily.
To increase the frequency of your water and raise your overall vibration, fill your Blue Bottle Love bottle with pure spring water or the best water you have access to, and place in the sun for a minimum of one hour. Prepare to be transformed from the inside out!
Thank you all so much! We are happy to announce we sold out quickly.
You can still donate to Project Blue any time. They have lots of exciting projects coming up, so be sure to check them out.