Grief has to take some responsibility for pebble magazine, the award winning sustainable lifestyle magazine that I’ve built from scratch over the last year and a half.
It launched 6 months to the day after losing my stepfather to a sudden and devastating terminal cancer diagnosis. After he’d gone (just a month later), life didn’t, couldn’t, return to normal – which was working as a travel journalist for anyone that would pay me. It seemed too flippant, too shallow both for my personal grief and a deeper connectedness to the feelings that had been building up over the last few years – the guilt of frequent flying, the plastic waste on beautiful beaches, the awareness that round the world hundreds of thousands of people are toiling away quietly trying to change the future, one plastic straw, saved elephant, conservation programme, UN initiative at a time.
After pitching more eco inspired travel and food stories to all my usual sources and being met with a wall of deaf ears and disbelief that anyone cared enough to read some positive news, I fell back on my experience of launching magazines for big brands and my rather hedonistic 20s which were consumed with running my own music and graffiti magazine. In this round two of running my own business I’ve been a lot more sober and the whole process has been a lot more sobering.
There’s a lot at stake – not just for me personally (and my long suffering partner), but pebble has become part of a more conscious movement. The dawning realisation that we, as consumers, do have the power to change the world. The power is in our pocket to demand a better way of doing business, of rethinking the last 50 years’ blind pursuit of profit that has ultimately been the cause of so many of our environmental and economic problems.
We’ve developed a cult following and an informal global community of people who want positive action, whether it’s supporting a ban on plastic straws and using a KeepCup, supporting ethical artisans instead of faceless corporations or whether it’s running their own social enterprise, community action group or conservation project.
And our readers aren’t the eco warriors we saw on the news in the 90s, crusty and crying about the ozone layer. They’re you and me, they’re the people that quietly donate to charities, who try to practice buying less but better, who want the world to become slightly less rubbish.
Pebble magazine covers everything from the latest ethical fashion brands (which is most new fashion designers – again no longer a hippy, beige experience) to the best ecotravel hotels in the world (because we know, we need to inspire and delight people rather than telling them they can’t do something). We’re not here to tell you not to get on a plane (my family all live abroad so it’s something I’m guilty of) but about looking at the small changes you can make that add up to big differences. Of doing what you can and inspiring others.
Our logo is three boulders stacked up (actually based on a ancient Celtic symbol for art, XX and XXX) but it fits our idea of pebble’s stories and its readers being individual stones, on their own unique but put together, they can form landscapes and shift the world.
What we’re seeing now both through pebble and in the wider world is a tidal wave of people who care. We see that through our own Facebook community, the pebble pod, and through the popularity of videos promoting sustainable solutions for everything from plates made of leaves to modular ecofriendly housing.
When I say the word ‘sustainable’, which is often, some people’s eyes roll. They shrug, Boring, not interested, switching off. But what we’re really talking about is everything that’s exciting right now – pioneering new materials based on bio-tech (like Yuhme), the burgeoning zero waste movement, the move to buying from smaller, independent brands rather than planet eating behemoths, the celebration of local diversity over global hegemony, plant based burgers…we’re talking about the good stuff – and that’s what pebble is really about.
Eighteen months to the day since we launched, two years to the day since my stepdad died, a stepdad who lived a no fuss template of a local, low impact life, respectful of nature, kind to people, a diet of mostly plants (and Irish whiskey), we’ve just put the finishing touches to everything we need for our first big funding round.
Pebble has grown beyond all expectation, we’ve recently launched a standalone sustainable city guide series, the pebble guides, which round up everything eco and awesome in regional cities – to connect creatives and crafters, city visitors and vegans, in an innovative web-app that highlights everything from the best bike paths to organic bakeries…we hope it will become a wave of wonderful things to do.
So…let’s do this. Let’s do it together. #pebblesmakeripples