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Celebrity Health – Bonnie Wright

Images of Bonnie Wright © Kacie Tomita

Actress Bonnie Wright talks to Liz Parry about her work in the area of environmental activism and her new book on fighting climate change

Actress Bonnie Wright is famed for her portrayal of Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films. She is also passionate about environmental activism and is an ambassador for Greenpeace and the Rainforest Alliance. Bonnie’s debut book, Go Gently: Actionable steps to nurture you and the planet, provides an overview of climate-related issues along with practical tips, skills, healthy recipes and exercises.

Q What inspired your passion for the environment? And what led to your involvement with the climate movement?

Bonnie: I’ve always been someone who likes the beach and coastal environments and around 15 years ago I started to see single-use plastics and pollution appearing more on our beaches. I was confused about why that was happening and I wanted to learn more about it. When I started working with Greenpeace it changed from being something I was concerned about to something I was actively involved with. I felt really inspired by the solutions and ideas they have and felt like I could start doing things in my day-to-day life and not feel totally overwhelmed by the subject.

Q In the book you feature lots of tips and advice, and you focus on simple practices like making and mending, cooking and growing herbs. Is that an attitude that you grew up with?

Bonnie: Yes. My grandparents and parents had those skills where they would mend something first before buying something new. My mum was always really good at sewing and mending things, and if something in the house broke, like the kettle, my dad would always fix it rather than buying a new one. So that’s always been very much a part of our lives. It’s always been about investing in fewer things that are of better quality, rather than lots of low value items. Like a jumper made from good materials that could last a long time rather than lots of cheaper ones.

Q You have lots of recipes in the book aimed at reducing waste. Do you get a sense of satisfaction from developing recipes that are nourishing for your body but also help to reduce your impact on the environment?

Bonnie: Yes. I view cooking as an act of taking care of myself or taking care of friends and family by cooking for them. The idea of nourishment is not just the nutritional value, but it’s a form of self-care. I find the act of cooking or thinking about recipes to be quite soothing, like a meditative practice. I think people sometimes assume that cooking can be more complex or time consuming than it really is. I try to focus on recipes that don’t have really intricate processes in them and that are quite straightforward.

Q What you would say to people who argue that they don’t have time to cook from scratch?

Bonnie: I totally understand that for some people cooking isn’t the most fun practice.

I’d suggest starting off by preparing something for your lunch to take to work, like a salad or sandwich, rather than trying to make a whole dinner. And choose recipes that have, say, five or seven ingredients in them. Start off simple and hopefully that will help to build up your confidence.

Q Do you have any tips for how people can make changes in their own lives that will help to reduce their impact on the environment?

Bonnie: It can be quite overwhelming thinking that you need to overhaul your life in order to make change, but it doesn’t have to be like that. For me, my entry into the issue was plastic pollution and ocean health. So rather than trying to limit the plastic in my entire house I initially focused on the food I was buying and how much plastic was used in the packaging and tried to limit that. Maybe start with an issue that you care about the most. For example, if you love gardening, you could make sure that you’re not using fertiliser and you’re trying to be as non-toxic as possible there. If you love being at home you could start to look at the kind of chemicals and ingredients that are in your cleaning products.

Q Tell us about your work with Greenpeace and how you came to be an ambassador for them.

Bonnie: I wrote an article about plastic-free shopping and Greenpeace reached out to me to ask if I’d like to do some work with them. I went on one of their ships, Arctic Sunrise, and we travelled down the coast of the Atlantic side of America. That trip was all about connecting with coastal communities and we did a lot of trawling for microplastics. This is when you put a net down to see what plastics you catch. Then I worked with them on the UK River Project which focused on the fact that waste and pollution runs off the land into riverways, estuaries and waterways and that’s how it often connects to the sea and the ocean. That was about educating people on that issue. I’ve also visited the Coca Cola headquarters in Atlanta to petition them to take bolder action with their plastic packaging. I’ve learnt that you need to do what you can in your own way, but also that pressure needs to be put on big brands to provide better options for us.

Q Do you feel hopeful that change will come about and that we will be able to protect the planet from further damage?

Bonnie: Yes, I definitely wouldn’t be in this work if I wasn’t hopeful. I think there are some amazing, creative and incredible solutions that exist. There are lots of small, local solutions as well as global solutions. I’m constantly inspired by so many grassroots charities and organisations doing really good things. I think like everyone you have good and bad days when you feel hopeful, or when you read a headline or hear a story and you feel frustrated and angry. But that just makes you want to keep going and keep trying to achieve change.

Go Gently: Actionable steps to nurture you and the planet by Bonnie Wright is out now, priced at £20.

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