Connie Allen – Film and Documentary suggestions on the Key Environmental Issues of our Time

Last month, Craghoppers revealed its “Mindfully made collection”, a line committed to responsible, sustainable sourcing of materials, responsible incorporation of social impact programmes, and environmental and conservation initiatives. In celebration of this launch, I thought I would put together a collaborative list of the best films and documentaries on the
topics Craghoppers cares so strongly about – facing the environmental challenges of our time.
The medium of film and documentary is in my opinion the most powerful way to communicate often heavy and complex, emotional charged causes such as environment issues to audiences. With captivating interviews, artistic imagery and informative graphics, a skillful documentary can win over hearts, provide new perspectives, lift prejudices and inform people with messages that they will carry across a lifetime. Film and documentary
provide a window into the lives of others; and can teleport us to experience the reality of life for those on the frontline in the stories we read in the headlines. We can better inform ourselves and empathise with a situation – inspiring debate, action and policy change.

Ocean Issues

Craghoppers Ambassador Connie Allen cleaning plastic from a beach.

Overfishing, habitat destruction, loss of species, plastic, chemical and noise pollution; our disrespectful treatment of the oceans is nauseating. For an overview of all these issues, we highly recommend the – at points beautiful, at other times painfully brutal documentary – “Blue”.

We learn about over harvesting of top predators such as sharks (73 million of them are taken from our seas each year!) and the knock on effects down the food chain. And we are exposed to the extent of overfishing of the ocean – with a shocking estimation that 1/3 of the fish in our supermarkets are caught illegally.
Another suggestion, focused more exclusively on the oceans plastic pollution crisis would be “A Plastic Ocean”. Boasting a fantastic scientific and journalistic quality, filmed over 4 years this feature length documentary introduces us to locals, scientists and activists across 20
locations that are facing the effects of plastic pollution in our oceans. We learn how the 5 trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans make their way through the food chain – affecting all levels of life from fish, turtles, sea birds, dolphins all the way to humans. One fact haunts you long after watching – by 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic than fish.

A passion to combat plastic pollution is a top commitment of Craghoppers – with an impressive 70% of Craghoppers products being made from recycled materials including plastic bottles. That’s 11 million bottles to date not in landfill, and not drifting around our oceans posing a hazard to the ecosystem. Plus, 40p from every sale of Craghoppers NosiLife Adventure Swim Range is donated to the Galapagos Conservation Trust.

Clean Energy and Climate Change

One of the greatest challenges to the climate crisis has been finding ways to communicate the challenges and concerns in an engaging and captivating manor, outside the world of mathematics and graphs, in a way that is relatable and relevant to the average Joe. Two documentaries that do a great job at this are “Into Eternity” and “The 4th Energy Revolution”.

The former focuses on the nuclear waste question – following the story of the world’s first permanent storage facility for this hazardous material inside a mountain in Finland. Whilst the latter is an extensive exploration of a vision of a world with more autonomous energy provision – and a call away from fossil and nuclear fuels towards clean renewables. Energy is arguably the central question on our path to a more sustainable planet, and as things are now we still rely on coal, oil, gas and nuclear for over 90% of our energy. Not only do these sources release greenhouse gases, fuelling global warming, but they also lead to the destruction of natural landscapes, corruption, armed conflicts and radioactive contamination.

Also not to miss, there is “Ice and the Sky” . This is sure to satiate the Craghoppers appetite for thrill, challenge and adventure! In 1955 Claude Lorius took on the challenge of living in the Arctic in near total isolation – it’s a land still untouched by scientific experimentation and the film tracks Lorius’ remarkable discovery that air trapped in polar ice caps can be
used to track the history of our climate. This is the story of the beginnings of climate change science, and the struggles for the initial researchers to be heard yet alone taken seriously. A real masterpiece of human endeavour.

Fair Trade & Fast Fashion

As part of its Mindfully Made Campaign, Craghoppers has countless strategies and strict policy standards to ensure fair trade through sustainable use of resources as well as safety, protection and fair treatment to over 40,000 workers worldwide. Craghoppers is leading the industry with its openness and transparency with the information it provides concerning the pushes being made to improve industry standards. These include health and safety training for factory managers; routine inspection that factory conditions meet Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) standards; a health, hygiene, nutrition and finance education programme for female workers in Bangladesh; and a commitment to responsible sourcing of materials. In addition to this, Craghoppers stands adamantly against the “fast fashion” mind set, creating stylish and functional clothing that is guaranteed for life.
All of this is crucial, because not only is the fashion industry one of the most pollutive industries in terms of chemical waste – but when managed poorly and without regulation, there can be great social injustice to those kept hidden further down the globalisation supply chain.

To understand the environmental complications involved in irresponsible
fashion industries, we recommend “RiverBlue”. The film explores the role of the denim industry in polluting China’s lakes and rivers – some 70% of which are now contaminated. Unregulated dumping of toxic chemicals and pollutants such as heavy metals is destroying China’s rivers, leaving them “biologically dead”. It seems almost post-apocalyptic, dead fish floating on the surface, canals that can be literally set on fire they are so polluted, and knock on effects reaching citizens in the form of gastric ulcers, skin disease and cancer.

To focus more broadly on the social implications of unethical fashion brands and the people being exploited in this system, the must see documentary is “The True Cost”, filmed around the world in thirteen countries “from the brightest runways to the darkest slums”. The unsettling juxtaposition between the struggling low-paid-overworked laborers against the excessive-ignorant hedonism of the consumer is at times sickening to process – but the film is a true work of art.

Both of these documentaries act as a real call for more responsible and ethical standards in the fashion industry, something Craghoppers is passionate to be leading in Social, Economic and Political Issues surrounding many Conservation issues.

Scientists predict that by the end of the century we will have lost over half the species on Earth. As human populations grow so do their unrealistic demands on the environment, we are rapidly losing our wild spaces and the wildlife that inhabit it. On every continent on Earth, conservationists and regular people are fighting daily against forces larger than themselves to protect their wildlife and their heritage. Often these stories are multi-sided
and a complex web of politics, corruption and greed. And it’s not just the small unknown insects and worms we are losing – it is even the big
icons that we regard so highly for their inherent value, that risk total eradication. Take the example of the famous mountain gorilla, and the iconic rhinoceros – both at the centre of global battles of justice for man and wildlife.

Sides of a Horn” is a new short film that powerfully tells the story of Africa’s poaching war from both sides of the conflict. The illegal wildlife trade is second only to the drug trade in being the most lucrative illegal trade on earth, and increasingly terrorist and militant groups are becoming involved in this business that has lead to over 7,000 endangered rhino poaching incidents in the past 10 years. Demand for Chinese medicine has the rhino horn fetching prices as high as $50,000 dollars per kilogram – which inevitably is enough to drive a chain that ultimately exploits the most vulnerable in society, and those most desperate for money to take the risk and make the kill. This film does incredible justice to the dilemma of
the poaching conflict and its impact on communities, even pitting families against one another.

Craghoppers is proud to support “Saving the survivors”, a non profit based in South Africa providing essential veterinary treatment to rhino’s that are victim to poaching.

Virunga” is a documentary covering the conservation struggles of the courageous individuals risking their lives for the mountain gorillas and the Virunga national park in Eastern Congo. It is a complex tale of terrorising rebel groups, war, wealthy and exploitative oil companies, and of corruption. But ultimately it’s also a tale of incredible passion and loyalty from those fighting for the wildlife that what they see as the pride of their country and heritage. Craghoppers is similarly passionate about gorilla conservation, even producing the film “Hope” covering the plight of the critically endangered ape in Rwanda.

The overarching message of the film too, being that we need to support the people protecting these animals – successful conservation starts with helping people.

Have you seen any of these documentaries? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!


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