The title ‘Eight Million’ came from eight million metric tons of plastic going into the ocean every year. – Marcy.
GSIS mum, Marcy Trent Long founded Sustainable Asia, a social enterprise that partners with environmental journalists and thought leaders in Asia to produce podcasts that alert and amplify environmental issues to the world. With Kinsey (Y12) on board managing the graphics and communications for their project, the mother-daughter duo used their voices to make an impact, literally.
We sat down with Marcy and Kinsey to talk about “Eight Million,” their first podcast series for Sustainable Asia and the perks and challenges of working together as family.
Q: How did this project get started for you?
Marcy: This is twofold – one is why a podcast and then why this topic. I was doing research with WWF in Hong Kong, and I found that the research that I did would end up in a paper that no one would read, and it was really frustrating. In doing that research, I enjoyed being able to actually listen to a podcast about a subject and go for a hike, rather than being stuck at my desk the whole time. I felt it was a more enjoyable way of doing research, and that was why we decided to produce podcasts.
The reason I chose this subject was because I read a research report by McKinsey and the Ocean Conservancy called Stemming the Tide: Land-based strategies for a plastic-free ocean. I was really surprised that their conclusion that the best way to stop plastic from going into the ocean in Asia, and particularly China, was incineration or waste to energy plans. They burn plastic at a high temperature and then convert that heat to electricity - basically a renewable energy source. If you have the option of burning it and putting it in the landfill, or burning it and at least creating some electricity, you might as well take the energy from it.
So, then the title “Eight Million” came from eight million metric tons of plastic going into the ocean every year. A researcher that we interviewed in episode 1 looked at the population density along the coastlines in the world, and they made estimates based on waste.
She estimated that 40% of the plastic that goes into the ocean from that 8 million a year is from Asia. – Marcy
Q: How did you get Kinsey on board?
Marcy: I asked Kinsey if she would design Sustainable Asia’s logo because I knew Kinsey was so good with graphics, as she’s done all the posters for the Environment Protection Club at school. She did a brilliant job on the “Eight Million” graphic. The whole podcast, the audio engineer, the script writer in London, and the co-producer have worked with Kinsey on the social media. Everyone’s been a volunteer, and I have one right in the house.
I was really excited, because when she first came up with the idea of making a podcast, I thought that would be a really creative way to talk about such an important issue that I think is underreported. I was quite proud of her.
Q: How about for yourself, working on the graphic design and social media? How do you feel about having that responsibility?
Kinsey: I’m not normally a very artistic person, but I’ve had a little bit of experience in graphic design when I programmed an app and had to make a logo for that. It was a bit of a challenge for me, but it was a very interesting one to take on because I think it is something that I want to look into and improve in a way.
Q: Can you tell me more about the graphic design concept?
Kinsey: Originally, I wanted to use my own photography. I have an underwater camera, so I would go into the swimming pool and take photos of plastic under the water. That was the original idea behind it. But, the photos didn’t turn out as well as I hoped, so I ended up having to use licensed photos. For the promotional part of it, I did use a couple of my photos when advertising it.
Q: How do you feel about working on this with Kinsey together?
Marcy: It is really fun to have something in common to work on and have an objective on, especially when it’s done really well. Sometimes it’s hard, because I am not very good with social media, though sometimes Kinsey looks at me like, “Really Mum, couldn’t you be like 40 years younger?”
One of my favourite parts of the podcast is actually the logo that Kinsey did, so that’s really great, that pride.
Kinsey: There are pros and cons. The pro is the connection that we always have something to talk about. But it can be difficult, because she’s my mum. Sometimes, I think you (Marcy) feel as if you don’t want to nag me too much because it might cause some conflict there. Most of what I did with the logo was with Sam and the other co-producer.
Q: How do you see this project evolving in the future?
Marcy: The podcast is only in English, but I think we will probably translate it into Chinese. We partnered with China Dialogue and they have a bilingual website in China and in the West. The goal with Sustainable Asia is to bring research to life, and it’s not only to educate the West about what’s really going on in Asia beyond the headlines, but it’s also to educate the Chinese people about what’s going on in their own country. The next project will probably be along the same approach, but I think we will probably stick with plastic. We can take it a little bit further and talk more about redesigning plastic and more innovation.
Kinsey: Currently, Sustainable Asia is the company and their first project is this podcast. Hopefully they are going to be making more audio productions, either podcasts or radio shows. I know they are also working on short RTHK pieces, but hopefully they will do another major project like this - another podcast on environmental issues.
Thank you, Marcy and Kinsey for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience. It was both insightful and inspiring to learn about the projects and research the mother-daughter duo are doing to combat environmental issues. Educate yourself and lend your ear to Eight Million, the podcast series that details the pollution and solution to plastic in the ocean.
Listen to Eight Million HERE!
About Sustainable Asia
Sustainable Asia partners with environmental journalists and thought leaders in Asia to produce engaging audio and disseminate their message to a wider audience. We choose topics that are on the critical path to making a sustainable Asia. LEARN MORE!