Ben & Ciara film sustainability initiatives around the world. We asked them to describe their journey to Going Green Media
Image Credit – Going Green Media
We met on Instagram and it was a domino effect for us. Ben studied architecture and became vegan in 2019, while I became vegan in 2013 and grew up surrounded by and spending a lot of time in nature in Florida. With these influences, we just both naturally gravitated toward learning about protecting the beauty of our respective environments, as well as over time learning about the detrimental impact of animal agriculture on climate change.
In starting Going Green in 2019, Ben wanted the channel to initially focus solely on sustainable architecture, which is what he was most familiar with talking about. Upon my joining the business in 2020, we both realised that there was so much more potential to cover the many aspects and opportunities in the field of sustainability.
We also really wanted to be a positive voice, and not so much focus on the doom and gloom of the world. Of course, it’s important to educate yourself about the truth of every situation, but we really wanted to emphasise the fact that there are people and businesses out there working their hardest to make a difference either globally or just within their local communities. From this, I think we hope that more and more people will continue to get involved with green projects, or even start their own.
Our business goals continue to develop and change as the world does too. We want to make Going Green a household name, as well as the source for many people on eco-positivity. Whether that’s through both long- and short-form content, documentary films and series, the possibilities are endless and we really can’t wait to keep exploring them…so stay tuned!
2. Unlike mainstream media, your focus is inspiring projects that produce solutions and people’s stories. Do you think those who produce solutions are sufficient, or are we just at the beginning of the journey in this regard?
Our goal is to amplify the voices and stories of green projects around the world that are either offering new solutions to global problems, or are reframing how we approach various aspects of our lives. We believe that the world is really just at the beginning of this incredible journey, and still has such a long way to go! A lot of the people that we meet and green projects that we film really are acting as the trailblazers for a more environmentally-friendly future, which is so inspiring for us! Sometimes reinventing the wheel isn’t necessary for mass societal change, but instead it’s the small changes in ideology or in one’s habits that can really make all the difference over time.
I don’t think we could ever pick just one favourite, because the whole point of Going Green is that we’re constantly covering ideas and innovations that are sustainable in different ways. Some of the projects we visit are super high-tech and have been developed by extremely qualified and incredible engineers, doctors, and scientists, while others are just the passion-projects-turned-businesses of everyday people who love what they do. The most impressive thing for us, I think, is the passion and dedication of the people we meet, and all of that is really evidenced in what they do.
We’re both extremely dedicated and stubborn hard workers, so the core of our business is thoroughly vetting every brand or project we work with, as well as sticking by our values in everything we do. We never want to be influencers who just push a product or campaign for the sake of a pay check, so before choosing to film a green project or be a part of a campaign for a brand, we question everything about their ethics, track record, and the true sustainability of what they’re creating. Regardless of whether we have reached out to a project or if they’ve found us, we still do the same kind of research and evaluation to make sure it’s something we are proud to stand behind and be affiliated with.
There are so many pros and cons to the growth in popularity of sustainable products and buzzwords. Of course, we want as many people as possible to make sustainable decisions and create truly eco-conscious habits, but there will always be profit-hungry companies looking to exploit this public desire to know more and be better. Greenwashing, or labelling your products as eco friendly without actually making any substantial changes to how your products’ creation and sales impact the environment, really is the worst! We’re often approached by companies who want us to promote their “sustainable” or “degradable” products, but it only takes a quick look at either their websites or social channels to realise that they’re not actually doing anything different to help the planet.
Also, when we say “help the planet”, this doesn’t stop at a product being, for example, plastic-free, plant-based, or checking whether it comes in compostable packaging. We also look at, for example, how that company’s workers are treated, how the people who source the raw materials for a product are valued and compensated, if the company is transparent in its business practices or not, and what companies do to offset the carbon emissions created by manufacturing and shipping the product to consumers. If a company holds any certifications like being a B-Corp, this really boosts their popularity and our willingness to work with them. I know this sounds really time-consuming or energy-intensive, but so much information is available just to be searched online, so we really try to make use of these publicly available tools.
6. Is it hard to go to countries other than England and shoot projects and how do you find financing?
Sometimes we wish there could be duplicates of us to create even more videos! We have filmed probably over one hundred videos for Going Green, but with more and more incredible green projects popping up all over the world, we hope to continue to film for many years to come to hopefully one day have a library of thousands!
In travelling for our work, I wouldn’t say that it’s hard, but it definitely takes extra levels of planning to shoot projects abroad. We always want to practice what we preach, so trying to get to destinations around the world as sustainably as possible involves extra time and coordination, but at the end of the day, we love immersing ourselves in other cultures and living as travellers instead of as tourists, so it’s all worth it in the end. People will often say, “Well, didn’t you fly there?” because flying is so bad for the environment – we always try to clarify that we take trains and public transport, and rent electric cars as much as possible, but in specific situations (if a filming location is an island for example), we do have to fly. We can’t wait for solar-powered or lithium-ion-battery-powered planes to be invented, but in the meantime, we will continue to off-set our carbon emissions for every flight.
People often ask us, especially as young people, how we manage to fund these trips. We truly are self-made with absolutely no financial support from our parents in any aspect of our lives. Both of us put ourselves through university by seeking out grants, scholarships, loans, and by working, and once we met and decided to start Going Green, we both continued working in full-time jobs while getting Going Green off the ground. So much of our work, especially throughout the pandemic, was created by shifting around our paid time off from our full-time jobs, and using any spare days to squeeze in trips to green projects. We fund this, too, by reaching out to brands we believe in for paid partnerships, as well as continuing to finance much of our travelling from advertising revenue, and sponsorships from philanthropic organisations.
7. What is the future of Going Green Media in your opinion? I wonder about your dreams for the upcoming years…
We really feel like we’re just getting started! We see our business as having so much potential in a number of ways. In social media, we want to continue to grow our communities across various platforms so that people who gain a lot of their knowledge from short-form content can continue to be informed and inspired. Our digital communities also make people feel more directly connected with us, even if they live half a world away, so we really want to continue to maintain this “small community” feel, even as we continue to grow. In terms of our videography, a big dream of ours is to expand into long-form, documentary-filmmaking, and start submitting to film festivals and large streaming services. We have a couple more dreams and goals up our sleeves, so we’ll just have to see where we go!
8. This question is for Ben: Which sustainable architectural project impressed you the most as an architect?
I firstly want to say that I’m not a certified architect, but I studied architecture. The qualification process for becoming a certified architect in the UK is much more extensive than many other places, but I’m really proud of where I got to in my studies. The most impressive project I have come across is a building which uses its façade to power the building itself. The BIQ House in Hamburg is covered by algae-filled glass panels. The algae is extracted from the panels and converted into electricity to power and heat the building, provide fuel to power the residents’ vehicles, and it has the potential to become food! Aesthetically, the building is not my favourite, but the overall concept of having a building façade which can be so multi-purpose really intrigues me.