Here’s a duo using their social media channel to film sustainable architecture projects that inspire action. Ben and Ciara started Going Green Media in 2019 to showcase sustainable design, travel, and plant-based living around the world. From a vertical forest in Italy to a rooftop farm at a university in Thailand to UK’s first eco-town, their Instagram brims with hundreds of interesting stories. The globetrotters talk about their favourite eco-project–a rainforest dome–in Cornwall, future plans, and more. By Adila Matra
T+L India: Tell us a little about ‘Going Green Media‘. How was it born and what does it do?
Ben and Ciara: We grew up in very different parts of the world, Ben in Northern England and Ciara in South Florida, USA, but were both surrounded by natural beauty that played critical roles in shaping our lives. At a certain age, I think we both just understood that preserving and protecting these beautiful places was up to all of us. We wanted to start to take steps to ensure that our footprint on this earth was as minimal as possible, while also being as meaningful as possible.
After visiting Singapore and Indonesia in 2019, Ben was sitting in a friend’s kitchen reflecting on the incredible places he had seen and realised that people needed to see these things—even if just digitally.
In starting Going Green later that same year, Ben wanted the channel to initially focus solely on visiting sustainable architecture projects, which is what he was studying at university at the time. Upon Ciara joining the team in 2020 after meeting Ben via Instagram, 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 that inspires action, and not focus so much on the doom and gloom of the world. 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.
T+L India: Out of all the projects, which one (s) are your favourite and why?
Ben and Ciara: One of our favourites is the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK. It was built in an old quarry, and has two spaceship-looking domes that serve as giant greenhouses for thousands of species of plants! Going there feels like being transported to a different world. The efforts that the Eden Project makes in community involvement, educational programs, sourcing everything that they sell locally, and protecting local bee populations is what the world needs more of. The rainforest dome (biome), complete with waterfalls and plenty of tropical fruit trees, is our favourite!
T+L India: Apart from green projects, do you also make travel content that spread awareness about sustainable and slow travel?
Ben and Ciara: Yes! So the three pillars of our business are focusing on sustainable design, eco-conscious travel, and plant-based living. When we first met in 2020, the pandemic, of course, made upholding the travel aspect of what we do really challenging, but in the years since, we’ve sought out any opportunity we can to travel somewhere and create some sort of content surrounding eco-travel.
We also are currently working on a new series in which we go to popular destinations around the world, and show people just how fun it is to see all of a city or country’s historic and cultural sites, but also check out the sustainable initiatives that can help travellers reduce their impact on where they’re visiting.
T+L India: Which of the countries you travelled to impressed you with its sustainability initiatives?
Ben and Ciara: We find that we’re constantly surprised by the places we go. Often, it’s smaller countries that shock us the most with how much care and thought is put into their sustainability initiatives and ensuring that its natural beauty is maintained. Scandinavia is always impressive, but so are islands like Vis in Croatia and The Balearics. Even small steps are still steps, so we always say it’s just important to start somewhere.
T+L India: Tell us about a green project that you thought was very effective and unique.
Ben and Ciara: One of our favourites is definitely a London-based company that makes packaging products that are typically made of plastic out of seaweed! Since bioplastics have become popular, the terms “biodegradable” and “degradable” are often used to greenwash a product that may be made partially out of plastic, and out of another material.
This company makes everything from to-go condiment sachets, like those for ketchup and mustard, pasta packaging, takeaway containers, “plastic” bags that clothes typically are packaged in, and so much more completely out of seaweed! The team is really talented and ensures that the seaweed is locally sourced from the area where they’re creating the products for so that the transport emissions stay as low as possible.
T+L India: Can you let us in on your future projects?
Ben and Ciara: Without giving too much away, we are definitely excited for the coming months. We will be in Costa Rica for over a month working with some incredible people, organisations, and projects to highlight the grassroots efforts being made to transform the country and some of its policies, as well as show those who want to visit how to do so in a way that actually helps protect the incredible biodiversity of Costa Rica.
T+L India: What kind of travellers are you?
Ben and Ciara: The most important thing for us in travelling is truly being slow travellers, not tourists. When we travel, we always try to immerse ourselves in the native culture wherever we go, stay in locally-run hotels or hostels, purchase food from restaurants away from tourist hot spots where the food is always more authentic and less expensive, seek out the hidden gems off the beaten path, and leave a place better off than we found it.
T+L India: Any hotel/stay that you loved for its minimalistic green architecture?
Ben and Ciara:Ecocirer in Mallorca is our home away from home. Owners Barbara and Martin love what they do, and that is evident in the incredible atmosphere throughout the stay. The town of Sóller and the building itself, too, is magical.
It is a centuries-old converted townhouse containing only furnishings that were either bought second-hand or built from pieces of something from before. There is no single-use plastic provided on the property, the toiletries in every room are handmade by the owners from local plants and essential oils, the artwork throughout the hotel has been created by Barbara’s artist mother, and the plant-based breakfast served everyday is created using produce from the property’s incredible garden.
T+L India: Loved your series on off-grid homes! Can you tell us a bit about it? Which one turned out to be your favourite?
Ben and Ciara: Regardless of what’s going on in the world, off-grid homes have always fascinated us. Whether we want to live in one now or in the future, everyone can learn something from living in a place where you have to be innovative and self-sufficient!
In researching the different types and styles of off-grid homes, one that really stood out to us was The Stamp House in Australia! Not only was the surrounding jungle setting beautiful, but the way the home is designed to adapt to the changing climate and weather patterns—and even being able to withstand a Category 5 Hurricane—was really cool! The rooftop solar array and (rain) water harvesting system really earned points in our book for being able to self-sustain!