I was introduced to pebble magazine during my recent travels and I loved the style and ethos of this online hub for all things sustainable, eco, inspiring and planet loving.
I was curious to know more and when I contacted Georgina, pebble magazine’s founder and editor, to hear more she very obligingly met me on a rainy day in London for a chat. Here is the story behind pebble’s creation and the inspiration – I hope you enjoy reading and be sure to check pebble magazine out for yourself.
How long has pebble magazine been running?
We launched pebble magazine in November last year. I came up with the idea a couple of years ago and was considering whether to start it or not when my Irish stepfather died very suddenly last year. He was a man who very naturally lived this type of sustainable, simple lifestyle. This inspired me to just go for it and start the magazine. So within six months of my stepfather passing, pebble was launched.
Do you have a background in sustainable living or magazines like this?
My background is in magazine editing, which I have been doing for about fifteen years. I have always worked in print and set up my first magazine when I was 21 and that was run for five years. Setting up magazines for people is what I’ve always done.
I was working as a freelance travel writer but I could never get to write about the stories that I loved, especially around Eco travel and sustainable projects, so I thought I would set up a magazine but this time I wanted to do it all digitally and see what developed.
It has been amazing and has just really taken off. Part of the Pebble Pod community Facebook group that I recently launched alongside the magazine has come about due to the huge amount of emails I get every week from people who all want to be involved in pebble or want to talk about pebble or do things with pebble and it is just amazing. I have never worked on a magazine like it, so it just made sense to create an area where everyone can come together.
What was your inspiration behind the magazine?
I wanted it to be a very positive place and a place for all of these different aspects of sustainability – living , doing, eating, travelling, ethical fashion, eco-design, permaculture, yoga and so on so that all of these different streams come together and be in one place, something which wasn’t available anywhere that I could find.
I wanted it to be a platform to showcase all of these amazing projects that all of these people are doing around the world. A lot of this stuff doesn’t get covered in mainstream press. It is inspirational for people to be able to see or read about it.
Magazines have a really big and powerful voice, even if one person reads an article and in five years time decides to set up an NGO or a sustainable company then we have done our job. That was the philosophy behind pebble and it brings together everything that I am passionate about.
It is great to have a space to read about all of these different aspects of a more sustainable and conscious lifestyle on one platform.
I have been very lucky to be in jobs like this for such a long time. I get to interview and talk to people who are my dream people – like the people behind NOMA. I spoke to the The Nordic Food Lab the other day about using insects in food. I talked to a woman recently who is literally revolutionising the whole of Mongolia by using yaks instead of Kashmir goats to make clothes – people like this are impacting thousands of people’s lives.
What other job do you get to talk to people like this and find out why and how they are doing all of these wonderful things?
“I have never worked on a magazine like it,
so it just made sense to create an area where
everyone can come together”
Did you start pebble yourself or is it a team of people that work together?
I started by myself but with a design agency in Nottingham called Makermet and they were great. They helped me come up with the design and the technical side of creating pebble. They actually loved the project so much that we have become partners and now run it together. I also have an intern who has just started and a few freelancers, it is spread out but it works well.
How do you find the projects and people that you want to talk to?
It is a mixture; some people will email me and also a lot of it is researching twitter and instagram to see what other people are doing and what is interesting. We see trends that are coming in, for example plastic waste, and we are doing a huge feature on how to get rid of plastic straws.
As we cover a range of things from fashion to food and trends, you can kind of see what people are getting interested in and decide to do a big feature about that. We have just written a feature that has gone up about fair trade gold and why it is important to use ethically sourced gold and silver.
We like to join all of the dots together really.
Have you always been interested in a sustainable and ethical lifestyle yourself or has it been something that you have become more aware of over the years?
I think I have become more interested in it over the last five years.
I used to live in Dubai, which is the total opposite of all of a sustainable and simple lifestyle.
I can’t say that I didn’t like it there but I was aware of all the wastage and the difficulty of living in an environment where everything is imported and disposable. I think once I left there I realised that I wanted to be much more involved in a greener way of living as that is where my heart is.
More and more, in my heart, I felt I wanted to write about things that matter and I feel a lot of people are coming to the same conclusion. A lot of companies who we work with and have set up ethical businesses all worked for big corporations before and have come from a place of loving their jobs but with a sense that it just doesn’t sit right with them, morally.
“I think a really easy way to start is
to get rid of single use plastic –
like straws, coffee cups and plastic bottles.“
Magazines and media have such an impact on people, do you agree?
Yes, they have a big sway. At pebble we don’t want to bang the drum over peoples’ heads about going green, but instead we want to show that you can be sustainable as well as being stylish and chic, you can still do all of the things that you like doing but in a more ethical way. We wanted to show you that with all of the fashion, jewelry, skincare brands, as well as travel, that there are not any sacrifices that you need to make as there are so many great products, companies and organisations out there.
I think this is a more positive way to influence people as opposed to making them feel guilty or telling others what they should or shouldn’t do.
What has the feedback been like from people?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so many people are getting in touch with us and wanting to be a part of it and love the tone of our message.
There is part of me that wonders if we are just talking to the people who are already interested in sustainability, because you do want to expand to reach the people who may not usually think about these things. I think that we are slowly starting to do that. We do features on so many different things so if you aren’t interested in fashion or you may be interested in the more tech or design features.
There is always something more that you can do and we would like to reach as many people as possible.
I have been asked by people who the pebble reader is, and I think it is everyone as on some level everyone cares about the environment.
Do you have any plans for a print version or will it only be digital?
In my head I think it might be nice to do some coffee table books or something quite special – I don’t think we would ever do a print magazine – mainly because the cost is huge and it is not particularly environmentally friendly. I have worked a lot with print and love it but for what we are doing we need to stay online.
What would you suggest to others about becoming more sustainable or little changes they can make in their lives to help the environment?
I think a really easy way to start is to get rid of single use plastic – like straws, coffee cups and plastic bottles. Even those three things can have a massive impact on the environment.
Also looking at what’s in your house and look at how you shop. Less is more when it comes to clothes. Think more about wearability rather than how cheap something is. I think it is about re-framing your mind around what is effective but more about what is good for the environment and good for you. An ethically produced t-shirt might cost more but it lasts longer if you wash it less; which is also good for the environment.
There are simple things you can do. It is just about making small changes.
Have you noticed people close to you or around you changing their own habits or attitudes?
Yes. I am probably boring all of my friends to pieces talking about all of these things!
I mean no one wants to be that friend and to feel like you are nagging people. The way to change people’s mind is to show them the positive things that other people are doing and inspire them that way.
For example, my girlfriend is someone who has gone from barely believing that climate change exists to someone who now has immense guilt every time she buys a bottle of diet coke, and from there is starting to stop buying plastic bottles altogether. Another friend has stopped using plastic straws.
I definitely think that things are changing and on a wider scale people are changing. People are talking about it a lot more, it is not just a ‘hippie issue’ like it was ten years ago- it s now very mainstream. The younger generation really do care and it is influencing where they spend their money and the brands that they buy. The bigger brands are starting to notice this and that is when big differences happen.
So you think that the bigger corporations are taking notice?
The switched on companies are. I think that the companies that aren’t taking notice are going to have a rude awakening in a few years time when all of their customers are buying from ethical brands that they won’t have heard of- people are far less loyal to brands than they were before.
Do you notice more awareness here in London towards social and environmental impact?
Yes and no.
We did a story recently on London’s first zero waste food market which opened in August and the traction we have had on that story was huge.
London is difficult to gauge – I mean our air pollution is terrible, people have so many other problems to worry about that the environment gets pushed to the bottom of the list. If you look at places like Amsterdam and Copenhagen they are top of what they are doing when it comes to being green. However, there are a lot of people in London who really care and want to do things differently so it’s just about bringing it all together.
Where do you think we got lost in all of this? What happened that we got so far removed from how our lifestyle and choices impacts our environment and ultimately all of our lives?
I think we all got swayed by convenience and efficiency.
I was born in the eighties and it was around then that this started, the boom in consumer culture, gadgets, electronics and convenience food. We all just wanted more and more stuff without thinking about the impact that would have on the environment.
It is really nice to see people coming back to things like crafting and DIY and realising what we have lost in skills and crafts. Wanting to come back to a slower pace of life, create more, be out in nature, cook food from scratch. In decades to come I think we will look back at the end of the twentieth century and think we went a bit wrong, we need to really start to claw it back.
For years we thought that cheaper and more was better and we were encouraged by every brand going that this was the case. People have started to realise that actually cheaper isn’t better, or people are having to work for 5p an hour somewhere to provide you with a cheap pair of jeans and that’s not acceptable.
“The way to change people’s mind is
to show them
the positive things that other people
are doing and inspire them that way.”
Does a lot of the travel section include travel within London and the UK?
Around fifty percent is UK based, we do a lot around Scotland and Wales which people really love. A lot of our readers are UK based and with Brexit coming I think a lot more people are going to have to ‘staycation’ more.
It makes more sense to feature travel within the UK as it is more ecological but we are not going to tell people not to fly anymore as that is not practical. I am flying to Morocco myself this autumn but I will be carbon offsetting as much as possible and staying in eco-hotels. You just have to do as much as you can, maybe travel less, put money back into the community, travel more wisely – you can’t just stop living.
There is so much happening in London and the UK. One thing that I have been amazed about is that I always overlooked the UK, even during my eight years as a travel writer, as it is not seen as being as glamorous as travelling to Asia or the Mediterranean – but there is so much happening here in the UK.
There are pockets of amazing people doing really cool wild swimming holidays, foraging, glamping or replanting forests. There are things happening in parts of the UK that you wouldn’t usually think off- obviously there is Cornwall and the Lake District but actually everywhere you look we have amazing countryside and places to go.
Again it is about re-framing what you think a holiday is.
Where you like to do your own shopping in London?
Well it depends on time but for things like vegetables and groceries I have started using Farmdrop, which is basically an ethical supermarket. They go to all of the farms themselves and get the produce direct from the farm – such a vegetables, meat, eggs, nuts and then bring them to you – using electric cars to deliver. They are not that much more expensive to your mainstream supermarkets and when I can, I use them.
I have also started making a lot more things myself – we are living on homemade hummus at the moment!
We did a big feature about a couple of women who launched a recipe beauty book and how you can make all your own shampoos and beauty products at home. I think again it is breaking it down for people who may otherwise have thought it was a ‘hippie’, weird thing to do or that it is too difficult. To show that we don’t need to buy a lot of the stuff that we do, that we buy it for convenience – but if you can find the time to make it you will probably prefer it.
So if there are any companies who would like to work with you or if people want to learn how to become more sustainable, do you contact them or do they get in touch with you?
A lot of the people who we work with usually get in touch with us and people are starting to see pebble as sort of a hub for all things sustainable and starting to ask us about things. We work with brands for sponsored content who share our values but I would love to be a sustainable consultant companies and share all of this knowledge that we have learned.
I have been asked by people who the pebble reader is, and I think it is everyone as on some level everyone cares about the environment.