There are very few people in the world today that have had such a profoundly positive impact on the world of conservation and the way in which we perceive it than documentarian extraordinaire, Celine Cousteau. We were lucky enough to catch up with the conservational wonder woman behind CauseCentric productions, responsible for sensational story telling which, if you haven’t already, you definitely need to check out! So, if you’re in the mood be inspired, then read on.
What first inspired you to become involved in story telling and its place in environmental issues, ultimately giving you the idea to create CauseCentric productions?
Storytelling to make real connections between humans and nature is simply something I love doing. Telling stories is as old as human kind and is ultimately the way we all communicate. It seemed like a natural segway for me to use storytelling through various methods such as film, public speaking, or collaborations on conservation efforts. With the potential of collaborations, efforts are made even more powerful and I am excited to continue to do this through my partnership with Contiki and our recent Storytellers campaign. Because my family has been making documentary films for 2 generations before me, I was surrounded by it but it was through my studies of psychology that I began to explore the connection of the human mind to the story of the environment. CauseCentric was born out of a desire to help other conservation efforts by creating a visual communication tool to help them tell their story and gain more attention and support.
I often see you described as an explorer, what do you think being a modern day ‘explorer’ entails?
The word ‘explorer’ as someone who ‘investigates unknown regions’ conjures images of adventure and discovery. Most regions of the world have already been explored and in its original meaning, I feel the word has been overused and thus there is a need to redefine what it means in these modern times. There is a never ending source of stories from the regions we already know and finding new angles to known places should be considered exploration, such as looking at the evolution and change of a place and its people from when we first ‘explored’ it. The discovery of oneself within the context of the greater world is also a form of exploration as it gives us all a more realistic perspective of our own place. The next step in exploration is much more more about digging deeper into the human consciousness and our place on this planet.
What are the most important things that students can do to help in conserving our planet, particularly on a day-to-day and local scale?
Every choice we make throughout our days is important- from the products and clothes we buy, to the energy and goods we consume. In the end it is not about simply turning the tap off, it’s about changing how we see the importance of that water throughout all we do. Students have tremendous capabilities of impacting change because they are tied to a community through their schools and thus have access to a tremendous resource of other change makers and it is through influencing others to think more consciously that they can have a greater impact. So yes, you should continue to reduce, recycle, and reuse but think bigger and help others understand why the mindset behind those actions is the greater change.
What can young people do to turn a passion for travel and conservation into a career?
Conservation is not necessarily a profession, it is a way of life- so anyone can have that as part of who they are. As for the combination of travelling and conservation, one great way to integrate those two elements is to work with grass roots organizations around the world. It is perhaps not as easy to get paying positions, but volunteers are often needed. It’s also important to remember that not matter your course of studies, conservation efforts always need a variety of people with different skills from fundraising to accounting, from scientists to policy makers, and from hands on the ground individuals to strategy-oriented leaders. So what you study can often be adapted to conservation efforts which can lead to travel depending on the kind of conservation work.
Is there a favourite place of yours that you have been on your travels?
One place I cherish is the Amazon – for its people and the true intense ‘rawness’ of the place. But this is not a destination most people would chose. I have also loved travelling the coast of Queensland, Australia and diving along the Great Barrier Reef. Chile is also very high on my list- from the desert of Atacama to the glacier filled channels and into inland Patagonia. It is a country that never ceases to reveal beautiful surprises.
Do you have any advice for students travelling on a budget?
There are great systems such as ‘gîtes’ in France where you not only get a more personal experience staying with locals but typically it’s not as expensive as hotels. If you’re backpacking, doing a “hut to hut” style vacation will also give you the opportunity to save money as the costs are much less than hotels. When travelling in cities, go for local food places that don’t cater to tourists as much, as the prices will favour the local community rather than the foreigners and check out package deals for groups. And of course an all-inclusive trip like what Contiki offers takes you to some of the world’s most amazing places and makes sure you see it all for great value….
How important is it that young people are taught about environmental issues, and what more do you think needs to be done in the way of conservation, with respect to our oceans in particular?
It is increasingly important that young people learn about environmental issues because the health of our environment affects us all as humans. Many people choose ocean based destination for holidays and the connection to humans could not be more obvious there- we want to have healthy and plentiful oceans into the future. From the seafood we eat to the visible debris and unseen chemical pollution that goes into the oceans, all of this affects us directly. Young people have the opportunity to inspire others to understand our connection to our oceans in particular- and that is what we tried to achieve through our recent Contiki Storytellers campaign in Costa Rica. By taking amazing modern storytellers to participate in a conservation project, we are trying to spread the word and share the message about the threats against the sea turtles in Costa Rica and grow awareness of this biodiverse land. Young people can be leaders by choosing sustainable seafood, participating in coastal cleanup programs, and learning and teaching others about the importance of marine protected areas. The list is long but the methods are attainable.
So there you go, from budget travelling tips to advice for the eco-savvy student hoping to make an everyday difference to the world, I implore you to take something away from this interview. Travel more, increase your consciousness to our place on Earth, and do something now towards conserving our wonderful planet.
For more information on Celine Cousteau and the inspirational Contiki Storytellers follow this link: