Ben Fogle interview: ‘I am constantly embarrassed by my use of planes’

Ben Fogle interview: ‘I am constantly embarrassed by my use of planes’
The broadcaster and adventurer tells Olivia Petter how sustainability influences his daily life to mark World Oceans Day

The Independent’s My Sustainable Life is a Q&A series in which famous faces reveal their personal approach to the climate crisis

World Oceans Day is an annual awareness-raising day, created by the United Nations to encourage people to think about protecting the oceans and taking action globally.

In 2021, World Oceans Day is celebrated on Tuesday 8 June and the theme is “The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods” with a renewed focus on the organisation’s development goal to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”, by 2030.

To mark the day, The Independent spoke to British broadcaster and adventurer Ben Fogle for the My Sustainable Life interview. Previous guests include Labour MP Dawn Butler and model and activist Lily Cole.

Fogle is best-known for presenting programs like Animal Park, Countryfile, and Wild in Africa, but he has also written nine best-selling books and is the United Nations Patron of the Wilderness. 

Here he explains how leaving his phone off helps him connect with the natural world and why he started generating his own heat at home.

The most sustainable decision I made in the past year was…

I think there are two sustainable decisions I’ve made in the last twelve months. Firstly, I bought an electric car to play a part in reducing direct emissions and improving air quality.

Secondly, I installed a heat exchange pump in our home, meaning we can generate our own heat.

My least sustainable guilty habit is…

Flying. My job takes me to faraway places, many of which are only reasonably reached by air.

It makes me uneasy and perhaps lockdown has been the key to ween ourselves off prolific air travel.

If I ruled the world, I would make it more sustainable by…

Banning all single-use products and outlaw planned obsolescence. They say that our future is written in the rubbish we throw out.

Have you taken a look recently at a landfill? The sheer amount, and variety, of what we throw away is unbelievable.

When I want to feel in touch with the natural world I…

Turn off my phone and head for a walk. Across a field, in a woods, a park, along a coastline. The key is being in the moment and switching off.

If I could invent one thing that would make my life more sustainable it would be…

Efficient, climate friendly air travel. We have a built a world that still relies on travel and I am constantly embarrassed by my use of planes.

My sustainability hero is…

Greta Thunberg. What a campaigner. Never say a voice is too small. She is divisive because people don’t want to admit there is a problem. My children idolise her.

The one thing everyone should watch or read about the climate crisis is…

I was part of a film called Plastic Oceans nearly a decade ago. It is still pertinent today, if not more so and highlights the threat of plastic to the wildlife of the ocean and ultimately the human food chain.

My favourite vegan or vegetarian restaurant is…

Farmacy in London. It is our favourite restaurant full stop. They make the most delicious vegan food and they allow dogs.

My one piece of advice to people trying to be more sustainable is…

I’m working with Plymouth Gin and the Ocean Conservation Trust to encourage everyone to pick up five pieces of litter next time they are on the beach, and have lent my voice to a video outlining why it’s important to do this. 

There are over 100 million beach visits every year so if we each pick up just five pieces of litter, that would equate to over 500 million pieces of rubbish being cleared – imagine what a difference we can all make.

Three sustainable brands everyone should know about

Who gives a crap loo roll – They give 50 per cent of their profits to WaterAid to build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world and only use 100 per cent recycled post consumer waste fibres.

Ecover – Their products use waste ingredients left over from the other industries and are bottled in 100 per cent post-consumer recycled plastics.

Mindful Chef – Their fish is landed fresh in the UK and our vegetables are cultivated in the most natural way possible. They also request that customers return insulation and ice-packs for them to reuse to help build a more mindful supply chain.

Ben Fogle has teamed up with the Ocean Conservation Trust and Plymouth Gin to encourage Brits to pick up five pieces of litter from Britain’s beaches this summer and ‘leave nothing but footprints. To learn more about how you can do your bit to keep Britain’s coastline beautiful visit:


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