An actor Bonnie Wright, born in London debuted as the fiery-haired Ginny Weasley in the renowned Harry Potter films franchise when she was just shy of ten years old. Wright’s commitment to an understanding — and combating — climate change grew in tandem with her acting career. After graduating from film school in 2012, Wright began directing; simultaneously, she became more interested in environmental activism, becoming an ambassador for Greenpeace and other organizations.
In her new book, “Go Gently: Actionable Steps to Nurture Yourself and the Planet,” Wright reveals her impressive range of knowledge. Her passion for sustainability is evident in the guidebook, which is more intelligent (and practical) than many celebrity-authored books. What is Wright’s goal? To assist individuals in taking small efforts toward real change, such as substituting homemade items for packaged ones, figuring out what can (and can’t) be recycled, or mending garments rather than buying new ones.
Wright was reached via Zoom. Because of the length of the chat, it has been edited.
Q: You’ve been a long-time campaigner. Why are you writing this book now?
A: Many of my [climate] initiatives, whether marches or direct actions with Greenpeace, took place in public locations. But I was quietly making adjustments at home as well. I began to believe that the more private behaviors were almost as exciting as the public ones. When faced with so many possibilities, the book aims to help us make better, more informed decisions. The title “Go Gently” implies that we should be gentle in our acts to maintain them throughout time.
It mainly focuses on the home; there is a practice in which you select five items from space and assess their environmental impact. “Can you tell me what material this notepad is made of?” What is the source of that paper? “What will I do with it when I’m done?”
Q: You began by concentrating on plastic trash.
A: I’ve always adored the ocean, and I was horrified to see how much more plastic garbage was washing up on our beaches and in our waterways. It made me angry and upset. I [realised]… there are reasons why humans do not properly dispose of their garbage due to my desire to comprehend that. There are waste management systems that are just ineffective and a lack of policies to reduce single-use plastic and encourage businesses to utilize more refillable, reusable materials.
Q: “Every piece of plastic I’ve ever used is still somewhere on this planet,” you once commented. Isn’t it true, though, that many plastics aren’t recyclable?
A: The plastics business designed the recycling system precisely so that we would continue to use it. Plastic is made from fossil fuels, and they’ve spent a lot of money convincing the world that recycling is a good thing.
However, the bottom line is what drives the majority of these large corporations. Recycled plastic is more expensive than new plastic. Some plastics are more difficult to recycle since they do not contain any money. Your recyclables are collected and transported to a materials recovery center, where they are sorted and sold to recyclers. Recycling type No. 2 may not be lucrative for a week. Because no one is interested in the [purchasing them to recycle], those plastics could end up in a landfill. Because of their higher value, other materials in the chain, such as aluminum, are almost always recycled. The choice and pressure should not be placed on us. This is where education and policy come into play. When you [put something] in bin, hoping it will be recycled but not knowing for sure, there’s a word for it: “wish recycling.” Are you passionate about preserving old-growth forests? Here are few things you can do.
Q: What are the most common misconceptions regarding sustainability?
A: For a long time, we believed that recycling was the solution to our issues. Refillable, recycled items, such as going to the coffee shop and bringing a reusable cup, are better solutions we might implement. What can we do in our houses to be resourceful rather than buying new “sustainable” products?
Q: What can parents do to assist their children in becoming more environmentally conscious?
A: Young people are excellent at seeking transparency in these matters, and the kids I’ve known are well aware of the government’s position. On the other hand, younger children are in this incredibly impressionable era. “We eat our food, then scraps from our food go back into the earth and make new food grow,” children can remark about gardening and composting. Do you want to wash the cycle? If that’s the case, you’re not helping to recycle.
Q: How has your activism influenced your film-making?
A: One of the great things about the power of media is that it allows you to take people on a journey via a story and utilize characters to help people change their minds. Last year, I [directed] a short video that combined my storytelling with my concerns about the climate issue. The film “Consumed” is essentially a monster movie. It’s about our consumerism and how it will come back to bite us.
Q: Have you always wanted to become an actor? When you starred in Harry Potter, you were pretty young.
A: I didn’t know what I wanted to do because I was young. For the first two, my older brother read Harry Potter books. “You should audition for Ginny Weasley,” he urged when he learned they held auditions for the films. “All OK,” I said. “That sounds like a lot of fun.” “I’m going to just [focus on] directing for [a bit],” I announced after graduating from film school in 2012. I continued to act and direct after that. It all happened very quickly, and my passion for acting and filming blossomed on set in real-time. I started a YouTube channel dedicated to “Go Gently,” and I’m the only one who makes the videos. It’s been fun getting back in front of the camera after spending so much time behind it. There are six actions that the world can take to halt climate change.
Q: What is your most fervent wish for your book?
A: I’m not too fond of the idea that someone might read the book and then ignore the content. I wish people understand that there is no right or wrong way to participate in the climate struggle. The earth requires us to show up in whatever capacity we can, roll up our sleeves, and get involved.
Laura Barcella is a freelance writer who has written books for adults, children, and teenagers, including “Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World.”
Actionable Steps to the Nurture Yourself and the Planet
Go Gently By Bonnie Wright
Harvest. 304 pp. $26