Guest Blog: Amy Bray, Another Way

Amy’s story is one of determination, inspiration and hope. From growing up fearful about the future of our oceans, to taking responsibility in encouraging change, establishing Another Way, and recently being awarded Cumbrian Woman of the Year at the age of 17. Amy is a passionate young woman we can all take inspiration from.

In our first Guest Blog, Amy shares her story so far, and offers some top tips to others hoping to inspire and initiate positive change.

I have always loved the natural world and especially our oceans. All my life I have wanted to be a marine biologist and when I learned about all the threats our oceans are facing, I was frightened that what I wanted to study would no longer be here when I grew up to do so. I started writing articles about marine conservation, phoning companies to petition them to change their unsustainable ways and writing to my MP about policy issues. A few years later, I challenged my own family to go plastic free. It was by doing something individually to change my own way of life that I realised how important it is for us all to take responsibility for our future.

We all have the power to make decisions about what we buy and how we live, and that can come alongside petitioning the government or businesses to make it easier for us to make sustainable choices. We need a systems change that starts with all of us reducing our consumption and making choices based on compassion towards each other and our planet, whether in business, at home or at school.

We can all start by looking at our own lives and doing everything we can do to ensure we are living sustainable, conscious lifestyles. We can reduce the amount of plastic we buy by shopping with our own containers and bags and choosing the loose groceries or making our own snacks, we can avoid flying on holiday, we can buy locally produced, seasonal, unpackaged food. We can support small, ethical businesses, buy second-hand or sustainable clothes, reduce the amount of stuff we buy, boycott palm oil, use public transport, volunteer or donate to plant trees- the list goes on. And it’s not just about the small things anymore. Reversing the climate crisis will take significant change in the way all of us live.

In my own school, I started a marine conservation campaign called Devotion to Ocean. giving talks, meeting with the management team to reduce plastic waste and running an eco-shop for charity. I also shared my personal experiences going plastic free on Instagram to help inspire others to do the same. Although a few remarkable individuals were by my side the whole way, I had little support in school. Most of my classmates were not interested. The teachers supported me verbally but not actively and I felt like I was hitting myself against a wall. I didn’t know anyone else campaigning and this was before Blue Planet 2, before school strikes and the IPCC report. Being the one person who cares so strongly about something is really difficult and trying tirelessly to change people who didn’t want to change is emotionally straining.

When I started giving talks and awareness sessions to other schools and community groups, it helped me realise that I was not alone. There are so many different schools and individuals and organisations striving for good. My advice for young people is to start with small steps, in your own life, such as reducing the amount of single-use plastic you buy, buying second hand clothes or eating more plant based food and then to progress to starting a campaign in your own school or working with an existing eco group. If you find that you are getting stressed or upset over your work, then pause and try another project or another way of bringing about change. Find something that feels right for you- whether that is attending school strikes, making your school single-use plastic-free, running community events or giving talks to inspire people to live more eco-friendly lifestyles. Spend time in nature and outdoors to appreciate what we are fighting for. Remember you are never alone.

“We all have the power to make decisions about what we buy and how we live.”

I founded Another Way in January last year because I want to inspire people to change their own lives instead of waiting for someone else to change for them. Through Another Way, I have delivered talks and awareness sessions to around 4000 people from schools, businesses, events and community groups in the last year. I have spoken at conferences, on podcasts and on the media. I have produced leaflets containing concise, clear advice on how people can live more sustainably with leading scientists including Mike Berners Lee and with the endorsement of our patron, deep sea biologist  Alan Jamieson who has found plastic in the deepest points of every Ocean. We have opened our zero waste shop Another Weigh in Penrith, helping the community to reduce the amount of waste they produce and becoming a centre for networking. Our second shop opened in Kendal in December. All the profits go into the educational charity.

As part of the nature friendly farming project being undertaken in Matterdale Valley, led by Ullswater Catchment Management CIC, we secured a grant from The Tree Council to plant 1700 native trees with schoolchildren, farmers and adults during national tree week which was a huge success and we have planted 1000 trees this year. This has led to my appointment as DEFRA’s ambassador for the International Year of Plant Health.

Our Planet Pledge scheme encourages people to make 3 pledges of behavioural change and post them on social media, tagging 3 friends to do the same and we have just launched our 30 Steps to Another Way campaign, posting ideas every week about how you can transition to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and become an Another Way Home. We are all about positive action, focusing on what we can do as individuals in our own lives and how we can influence those around and above us.

On the 31st August 2019, 600 people, including 50 organisations, climbed the Wainwright mountains to celebrate the launch of the charity in many different creative ways, while signing pledges to our planet at the summits. Another Waynwright Day was recognised by the UN and brought together so many people striving for the same goal.  I have recently been awarded Cumbrian Woman of the Year for my work.

Sometimes, I am overwhelmed by the apathy and lack of care that seems to predominate today’s society, and by the extent of the problems our future is facing. But I do see hope. As long as there are people in the world who care then there is hope.

We can solve climate change. We can solve the ecological crisis and live in harmony with nature and at the same time we can solve so many more issues. But we have to act now and united, and each one of us has to believe that our actions make a difference.

Amy Bray

Chair of Trustees, Another Way

You can find out more about Another Way by visiting their website, and following them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.