Ihad the pleasure to get invited for a special event’s day at The Royal Geographical Society (With IBG) in Albert Hall in London to attend Steppes Travel Beyond Festival under the slogan ”Fighting Plastic Pollution”
The two day event featured keynotes by extreme endurance adventurers and athletes along with photographers,film producers, influencers, entrepreneurs and more.
It was Steppes Travel’s second year of hosting such a valuable environmental weekend event to help reduce the use of plastic and spread awareness on various ways to preserve and sustain our natural resources.
The theme was focused on spreading awareness about how much the use of plastic has polluted our environment specially our oceans; many fish died because of our actions and our lands have been filled with masses of non recyclable and non reusable plastic.
At 10;15 am on a fine Saturday morning, I arrived at the entrance of the event after a quick morning breakfast at Aux Merveiulleux de Fred in South Kensignton, where Le Cramique Brioch is a must try if you are in the vibrant city.
”A Plastic Ocean is a new feature-length adventure documentary that brings to light the consequences of our global disposable lifestyle. We thought we could use plastic once and throw it away with negligible impact to humans and animals. That turns out to be untrue.” – Jo Ruxton
On the opposite booth I spoke with Natalie Fee, Founding Director of City to Sea, a Bristol-based community interest company (CIC) founded in 2015 to stem the tide of marine plastic pollution; from city to sea.
”Our objectives are to reduce the amount of plastic litter flowing from Bristol into the Severn Estuary, by phasing out single-use plastics and creating a replicable model that can be shared with other coastal and river based cities.” – Natalie Fee
One of their recently most impacting and successful campaigns #switchthestick forced giant supermarket retailers like Tesco, Aldi, Asda, and Sainsbury’s to ‘Switch the Stick’ and only sell biodegradable paper stem buds.
Iwas intrigued when I saw passers by taking photos along with virtual wild animals; that’s when I came across Gautam Shah, Founder at Internet of Elephants.
The company develops approaches, models, and platforms for how technology and data can contribute to wildlife conservation outcomes, specifically to help wildlife parks and conservancies better manage their parks as well as service their beneficiaries.
Their latest app the Safari Central preview brings six real animals living in the wild to life through augmented reality, in a free app that players download to their phones. Snap a selfie with a grizzly or cuddle up to a rhino, learn more about the animal and support their conservation. (Source: IOE)
At the end of one hall, my eyes caught interesting shaped bottles with filters and different colors; I introduced myself and shook hands with Dave Shanks, Founder & CEO Water-to-go Ltd.
The company makes water bottles with 3 in 1 filters which delivers safer, healthy drinking water anywhere in the world.
The filter eliminates over 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants as well as chlorine, fluoride and heavy metals such as lead from any source (except salt water).
Perfect for everyday use, traveling, backpacking, outdoors, holidays, sports and the gym, you can fill up and drink from any non-salt water source including taps, rivers and streams. Never carry heavy bottled water again or pay for it. (Source: Water-to-go)
Just after mid-day I scoured the place for some caffeine; after going from room to room looking as if I am in the wrong place, I find a cafeteria with a smiling Barista offering me a warm cup of black americano.
As I was enjoying the aroma outside in the sunshine, I introduced myself to Praveen Moman, Co-Founder and Management Director at Volcanoes Safaris.
The organization offers luxury lodges in Uganda & Rwanda promoting and sustaining the tourism of Gorillas and Chimpanzees in the African region.
They organize unique & stunning wildlife safaris to those who would like to explore the mountains and lands of undiscovered Africa.
Try their popular 7-Day Kyambura and Bwindi safari. This week-long trip to Uganda takes you through the open savannah plains of Queen Elizabeth through the game drives and cruises to the deep jungle of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, home of the majestic mountain gorillas. (Source: Volcanoes Safaris)
Looking at my watch, there were still 30 minutes left before one of the keynotes kick start, so I made it an effort to speak with as many great businesses showcasing their environmental work as my time would allow me to.
One of the booths along my strolling around had many green signs all around it, so I had to stop and inquire, after all green indicates to an environmental cause; I said hi when I received a warm ”Hello” from Catherine Wood, Senior Sales Development at First Mile.
First Mile are London’s leading recycling company. They collect from 10,000 businesses in London 24 hours a day all year round. They make recycling for businesses easy, helping you save money and reduce your environmental impact. (Source First Mile)
We believe in a world where you can recycle everything, and we’re on a journey to make that a reality. – First Mile
A fresh coconut smell grabbed my attention as I was enjoying the day anticipating what’s more to come when I changed my direction of heading and approached Liha, Founder Liha Beauty.
The company creates natural organic cosmetics with a focus on African techniques and ingredients that gave the likes of Huffington post, American Vogue, CNN and Anthrpologie no chance but to feature their products.
Liha & Abi are life long friends that embody the brand of LIHA. LIHA was born from the desire to create a luxe natural and organic skincare brand that blends the rich botanical life of West Africa with traditional English aromatherapy and folk remedies. (Source Liha)
As I entered another room, to my left was a photo of a tiger in the wild, with his eyes preying me which left me with no chance but to approach and say ”Hey, I am Sherif, a travel journalist and I am interested in learning about your products”
Peter Antoniou, UK Country Manager for Swarovski Optik, said ”Of course, with pleasure” when he ran me through the high end range of binoculars and telescopes designed by the Jewellery maker Swarovski.
The world belongs to those who can see beauty. Experience the moment. Swarovski Optik
At 10:30 I made my way to the main auditorium/theatre where I would witness the first talk of the day; audience were sat in the cinema like house with a large screen on the stage featuring an image of a man with a long beard, long hair, with his eyes cocooned between a forest of facial hair; but they shined through straight at you like a leopard about to attack a baby gazelle.
Sean Conway is an extreme endurance athlete and adventurer who dedicated his life to discovering the beauty of what his body and mind are capable; Many would consider what he achieves is beyond humans physical ability simply because trying to explain to a fellow human how one man swam 900 miles and finished a 4200 mile triathlon is slightly hard to comprehend by most.
I had to set my camera aside for most of the talk because I have never witnessed a man with such determination and desire to exploring not only the world but the science of how a body of one man, who once got hit by a driver ”causing severe whip lash, concussion, torn ligaments and a compression fracture to the spine, can achieve the previously thought of as impossible by most.
Learn more about how an ordinary man went from a freelance photographer in London, whilst living in a tiny room with 7 other people, spending any cash he earned on various travels and bonkers adventures, became the world’s first extra ordinary athlete.
For more; follow Sean Conway on facebook
At midday I headed to witness a talk I have been anticipating for a long time by someone who have said to have toured the planet alone.
Meet Sarah Outen, an adventurer by land and sea, best selling author and motivational speaker, who recently completed an expedition extended from London2London: Via the world; an attempt to row, cycle and kayak 25000 miles around the Northern Hemisphere. The journey took 4.5 years.
If this doesn’t motivate you enough to take on a new challenge in your life and discover a little bit more about how wonderful it is to learn about what the human body and mind are capable of accomplishing, read all about Sarah’s adventures kayaking, rowing and swimming the world in her latest book Dare to Do: Taking on the planet by bike and boat(Source: sarahouten)
The next talk was from multiple gunshots survivor, author and journalist Frank Gardner.
Frank who is currently serving as BBC’s Security Correspondent, was paralysed for life when he was shot six times by a terrorist gang. His friend and cameraman was killed in the attack 10 years ago. (Source: The Telegraph)
If you want to experience epic adventures of one man who risked his life to explore our planet and get inspired from a journalist who went to the most dangerous areas in the middle east to cover the most arduous conflicts check out Frank’s latest books Far Horizons, an anthology of his travels to unusual destinations like Socotra, Sumatra and Djibouti and Blood and Sand, describing his Middle East experiences. (Source: frankgardner.co.uk)
As the day was coming to a wrap up, I see two young girls getting interviewed, photographed in the middle of a circle of environmental enthusiasts; I ask one man ”Who are these kids?” ”They are The Meeks, you should go talk to them, they are contributing to a great cause”
Amy 13 and Ella 11, are two young kids whose parents home schooled them about protecting the environment through various methods in order to reduce plastic waste that ”harms our environment, we are against single use plastic and we’re aiming to reduce them from the supermarket shelves in the UK” said The Kids Against Plastic.
They are also collecting 100,000 pieces of plastic litter and are encouraging cafes to become plastic clever. There messages and hard work help spread awareness to the community about the harms of using plastic that kill ocean species and help give people in the UK a CLEAR understanding of the environmental effects of our use and misuse of single-use plastic. (Source: Kidsagainstplastic)
After the astonishing amount of characters and environmentalists I came across during one of the most valuable 8 hours of my life since college, I have learned that the more of such people could spread the message and encourage others to think of our world when we come to live in it, the more the world will become a perfect place where many of its preserves can be sustained forever.
Make sure to attend Steppes Travel Beyond Festival next year for a day beyond your imagination.
My name is Sherif, I am a dayenjoyer.
collect memories, they shall never fade, things will.
Feature Image: Courtesy of Steppes Travel Website.
All Information in this article were gathered from Speakers Social media profile pages, websites and from myself attending the day.