Author Archives: Angie

Building houses with plastic bottles

By Angelina Cecchetto on 7th October 2016

We all know that plastic and especially plastic bottles are one of the major source of pollution of landfills, rivers and oceans. Since the authorities fail to stop plastic production and ban plastic based products, people have started their own initiatives all around the world to make something constructive out of plastic pollution.

In all continents, people have started building sustainable houses out of recuperated plastic bottles and the results are both surprising and amazing!

This is a double win for the environment and the communities who live of their environment. The twofold positive effect comes from the fact that the bottles used to build these houses are picked up from the beaches, rivers or any surroundings where old plastic bottles can be found. This has a majorly positive impact on the environment as it helps cleaning it from the plastic bottles who take over 400 years to start even disintegrating.

The second positive aspect is that the plastic bottles houses or structures are fairly quick to build and cheap as less “traditional” building materials are used.

The building projects also generally involve quite a few people which strengthens the community bonds and provides great instances of community solidarity.

So all in all these projects are definite win-win for the environment, the people and the community at large who benefit from a cleaner environment.

Here are a few inspiring initiatives all around the world:

In Georgia, a group of students build a greenhouse with plastic bottles:

In Panama, a whole Eco-Village is being build with houses and buildings made with plastic bottles:

In Colombia, Oscar Mendez, Architect is building houses with blocks made of discarded plastics!

In India, the Samarpan Foundation is also building houses with recuperated plastic bottles and shows the building process:

In Mexico, a man build his own island out of plastic bottles!!

All truly inspiring!


The Zero Waste Lifestyle: the right way forward!!

By Angelina Cecchetto on 22nd April 2016

IMG_6644 copy.SIG.16.9

On Earth Day, maybe more than any other day, you might be thinking about this beautiful planet Earth we are lucky to live on. You might see some breath taking landscape photographs or timelapse videos showing some wonders of natural beauty. And, for some, things might not go any further. But, for some, the journey into realisation starts today. Realisation that we all need to start acting meaningfully to help save the wealth of natural diversity that makes our planet the natural paradise it is. Paradise is planet Earth!

We all know but too well that the planet is in danger and that we are in danger together with many species that are disappearing one after the other. Our governments have complex political and economical agendas that prevent them from taking the necessary actions to improve this critical situation.

Change is needed but governments can’t implement it. So what?! Are we just going to stay there doing nothing and watch everything around us die? We think that we have no power but we have the power to change things! We are the ones who can implement change! How? There are many different ways but the common idea is that change has to start within each one of us. Changing our consumer habits to clearly send corporations the message that we do not want to destroy the Earth (for our children) so they can max up on profits.

Buying is voting. When you buy products you vote for what you’re buying. Full stop. And this is where our power is!

The Zero Waste philosophy is one of the ways we can start stirring the ship back in the right direction.

The Zero Waste (ZW) philosophy is a responsible lifestyle that enhances health and reduces wastes to a bare minimum. I am a true believer in the ZW lifestyle and well before I came across the ZW documentary a week ago I realised that I was well on my way to a ZW lifestyle. Seeing the documentary confirmed that I was definitely in the right direction. I am extremely glad to see that Bea Johnson and many other ZW defenders have started a whole movement! It makes me hopeful that more and more of us are realising we now need to change our ways and move towards a healthier lifestyle for ourselves, for all the beautiful species around us and for the valuable natural ressources.

Here is Bea Johnson’s presentation of the Zero Waste Philosophy she has adopted with her entire family since 2008. This is a family of 2 adults and 2 children living in California and generating about 1/1.5 liter of waste a year following the ZW lifestyle! Simply inspiring!!

And remember: everyday is Earth day!!

12 steps to get healthier and stronger and to help your environment!

By Angelina Cecchetto on 6th February 2016

Are you, like many of us, wondering: “Can I actually do anything to get healthier and stronger and at the same time be good for my environment?

My reply is: yes you can! And it’s simpler than you think!

Here are 12 easy steps to get started:

  1. Start shopping with recyclable bags or bag packs. This will stop you from using highly detrimental plastic bags!
  2. Stop buying mainstream cosmetics which are full of toxic ingredients such as Aluminium (deodorants), Fluoride (toothpaste), Bisphenol A or BPA (plastic containers), Phthalates, (lotions, perfumes, nail polish, hair spray etc). These toxic ingredients are in about 75% of mainstreams cosmetics.
  3. Start buying organic cosmetics (the most you can) or make your own. You can make your own toothpaste, deodorant, shower gel etc.
  4. Buy (organic) and cook your own food! This will stop you from buying unhealthy frozen ready meals and will reduce the packaging down to zero! This will also provide you with the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy and will be your best protection against cancer provided that you consume primarily organic foods! IMG_7123.SIg.1200
  5. Consider changing all your kitchen plastic containers (and of course recycling them) for glass or wood containers that are natural and will keep you away from BPA and other toxic chemicals linked with plastic containers.
  6. Start buying your food locally this will ensure its freshness and reduce the transportation costs and greenhouse emissions of food imports from other continents.
  7. Think of second-hand shops for clothes, you wouldn’t believe the stuff you can find there and the prices! This also contributes to lowering packaging and eventually reduces production and use of color dies that heavily pollute our waters. IMG_7138.Sig.1200
  8. Opt for natural remedies instead of chemical based ones, this will help your immune system get stronger again and will reduce packaging and costs. Avoid antibiotics and antidepressants at all costs. If you have a headache think of drinking lots of water first, most headaches are due to dehydration.
  9. You don’t need a receipt for everything you get so when asked by your cashpoint or your train ticket machine if you need a receipt, opt for none. This will reduce paper consumption and make you gain time!
  10. When the weather is nice from spring to autumn, try to go to work or to the shops cycling or walking if they are within walking distance or consider starting a car sharing pool with your friends/family/neighbours to go the local grocery shops. This will reduce greenhouse emissions and strengthen your community ties.

IMG_7157.Sig.1200px11. Choose to eat season fruits and vegetables! Do you really need to eat strawberries out of season? What most of us don’t think about is that buying fruits out of season means that these fruits (or veg) are transported by planes across continents and this creates an unnecessary trail of massive pollution via the megatons of fuel spent to transport these tons of (out of season) fruits and vegs.

12. Last but not least, if you stopped eating meat just for a day or two a week this would reduce the greenhouse emissions worldwide by half!

It is very easy for you to think a little about your daily habits and to adapt them slightly. I have done so and I feel great! I haven’t been sick in over 2 years!

Of course you don’t have to stress about implementing any of this, the changes can be done over weeks  so you can enjoy the process!

2014 top 10 cornerstone events worldwide!

By Angelina Cecchetto on 19th December 2014

Copyright ©Angelina Cecchetto

Copyright ©Angelina Cecchetto

In the usual ebb and flow of media waves, some events have certainly caught my attention and not necessarily the most talked about by the mainstream medias!

Here is a quick yearly retrospective of the best 2014 keystone events.

  1. With MacDonald’s closing all its restaurants in Bolivia, the list of countries where MacDo has been banned raises to 10 countries worldwide. The trend is in motion!
  2. India Declares Dolphins “Non-Human Persons” (February 2014). Some may consider this as an image cleansing gesture in a country where women’s rights are far from meeting any consideration standards, however it sends a clear message towards the protection of the cetaceans.
  3. Mexico strengthened Animal rights & welfare throughout the country and clamps down on animal cruelty overall.
  4. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered the cessation of the Japanese whaling program called JARPA II in the Southern Ocean, as it deemed the whaling program was not for scientific purposes (March 2014). This is a victory for the Sea Shepherds efforts and valiant campaigns against whaling for the last eight years!
  5. Shark fin soup sales drop (May 2014) after China bans Shark fins soup from official banquets and government receptions in December 2013. Again, some may think of China’s shark fin ban off official menus as a national image cleaning up gesture, but we have
    Copyright ©Angelina Cecchetto

    Copyright ©Angelina Cecchetto

    to admit that it has a positive influence on shark fin sales, which have lowered since. This is good news for sharks and for the ocean ecosystem as a whole!

  6. On June 3d 2014, 19 year-old Aerospace Engineering student Boyan Slat unveils the eagerly awaited results of his Ocean Cleanup project and confirms that the project is feasible! This is most certainly the best news of year 2014.
  7. The European Union reaches an agreement, allowing its member states to restrict or ban GMO crops in their territory (June 2014).
  8. On November 12th 2014 Seaworld reports a 28% income downfall compared to last year’s third quarter. A 30% drop in their shares price followed the day after the announcement. Since Blackfish official Premiere on July 19th 2013, Seaworld’s shares performance have gone down by 51%. This together with the closure of Rimini’s dolphinarium in Italy (May 2014) marks a raise in popular understanding that dolphinariums mean dolphin mistreatments and violent slaughter.
  9. California becomes the 1st US State to ban plastic bags! (September 2014)
  10. Russia officially and completely bans GMO foods! (November 2014)
Copyright ©Angelina Cecchetto

Copyright ©Angelina Cecchetto


Overall, 2014 was a pretty good year for landmark events not only showing a raise in consciousness about key life themes but also showing a genuine will from the people to enforce a change in society worldwide.

We, the people, are the motion behind the change.

We are the change, so let’s keep acting!!

GoPro Hero 4, underwater lighting and filters

By Angelina Cecchetto on 10th December 2014

GoPro Hero 4 underwater Copyright ©Angelina Cecchetto

GoPro Hero 4 underwater. Copyright ©Angelina Cecchetto

If you are thinking of buying a GoPro Hero 4 to play and shoot underwater, there are a few tips you may find useful! I have just bought a GP Hero 4 myself together with an Ikelite Tray with the Orca Torch Underwater Lighting and Flex Arms Light Kit to shoot and make some underwater videos.

I must say the GoPro performance itself was pretty good overall and in natural lighting it was fairly decent for the depth delimited within recreational diving. The sound on the videos is also quite good and clear. I liked the fact that you could lower the volume underwater.

The photo definition for the 12MP/Wide angle photos was really good even without lighting and even at 30m+/100ft depth.

As I was curious to try some polarizing and red filters, I also ended up buying a set of 6 XCSOURCE underwater filters (red, blue, yellow, purple, polarizing and neutral density). They come in a nice little wallet and they include a very easy to mount filter mount. When I actually tried out the red filter for the first time, I had the great surprise to find out that all my photos and videos looked like I was diving on Mars!

GoPro Hero 4 underwater

GoPro Hero 4 underwater with XSource red filter

GoPro Hero 4 with XScource filter mount

GoPro Hero 4 with XScource filter mount

If you don’t want to give your photos a Martian red tint like on the picture on the left here, you’re better off getting an underwater color correction filter.

When using the polarizing filter, I also found out that the mount created a definite vignetting stamp on pictures when shooting above water as shown on the right here.

I found that the Orca Torches were excellent diving torches with a good battery life. For videos I found the beam to be quite strong in full strength, which created unnatural shadows on the subject. To compromise I ended up setting a dimmer light set which is possible with the Orca Torch D500V.

GoPro Hero 4 underwater Copyright ©Angelina Cecchetto

GoPro Hero 4 underwater with Orca Torches D500V. Copyright ©Angelina Cecchetto

To conclude I would say that the GoPro Hero 4 is quite a good camera to start playing with underwater especially if you intend to do wide angle photos but if you want to do macro you’d better invest in another camera with more versatile zooming options such as the Intovas. In other words, if you are planning to make your GoPro your main underwater camera, consider its limits carefully but if you intend to take it with you on your next snowboard or rock climbing trip, like I do, then it’s definitely a great option!

99% Ride: Story of a real hero cycling from North to South Poles for children

By Angelina Cecchetto on 11th July 2014

On 7th of September 2013 Dirk Spits, founder of the 99%RIDE Foundation, started a bike ride from Alaska, through all the American continents. His aim is to reach Tierra de Fuego, Argentina in the South Pole by mid 2015. Over 27,000 kilometers (17,000 miles) separate the North and South Poles and Dirk will cycle this distance in over a year and a half. Knowing of this fantastic adventure and challenge, I had to interview Dirk and ask him why he was doing this!

How and why did 99%RIDE come along?

–           Last year I decided to sell all my belongings and leave Holland, my home country to create the 99%RIDE Foundation to help children in less developed countries. We want to help people and especially children following the principles of the saying: ”Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

99%RIDE Breaking the poverty cycle

The concept behind 99% is pretty straight forward: 99%RIDE asks 1% of people’s time or donations whilst they do 99% of the hard work, that is cycling and getting involved in 13 projects in 15 different countries.

Why 1%?

–           I believe that people in western countries have enough time, money and knowledge, 1% of this doesn’t influence their own personal life, but it can positively influence many other people’s lives. A minimum amount for a maximum impact.

Whilst Dirk does the cycling, promoting his cause along the way, Wouter and Samantha are the media crew organizing the fundraisers for the foundation and making sure there is an agenda filled with presentations for Dirk to do. Their main aim is to raise awareness about the plight of millions of children in third world countries and help them in a positive way.

Any highlights of the last 10 months cycling you would like to share?

–           I did a presentation in Oregon in Portland, in front of families and children and following this a girl called Genevieve did her own presentation at her school and raised 23 USD. From the height of her 11 years, Genevieve, came to me to give me a pink envelope on which was written,“I am the 1%.”

Genevieve 99%RIDEThis was one of the most beautiful and certainly one of most emotional moments so far.

Dirk who is cycling an average of 110kms (70 Miles) a day with a 50kg (110 lbs) bike together with Samantha and Wouter who are organizing all the ground operational and PR work are simply truly amazing people who have decided to make a positive difference in this world.

We can all make a difference.

Children of Mexico

Should you wish to join 99%RIDE and contribute in time, money, knowledge or anything else, you can follow them or contact them.

The great thing about 99%RIDE is that they follow up on the interventions they have done in different places and you can view many of their contributions via YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

I wish 99%RIDE all the very best of success in their projects and as Dirk would say:

Adventurous Regards!


Travel, wander, gone! Travel around the world without taking a single plane!

By Angelina Cecchetto on 25th April 2014

Photography:  © Ayack

One of the great things when you work your way around is that you meet fascinating people and one of them is my good friend Ayack. I met Ayack when I was working in Tulamben, north east of Bali island in Indonesia. Ayack journey is full of adventures, life changing encounters and wild experiences.

It all started in Ireland in 2006, after an Erasmus exchange that was to seal Ayacks thirst for new horizons. After this successful exchange, Ayack set its sail to East Africa where he completed a Masters in Geography and Urban Management and Development studies. Stepping out of his comfort zone and facing racism, Ayack managed to adapt pretty well, stood up to the challenge and successfully completed his masters. The logical next step after this was for him to go on to a Doctorate but he decided to decline the student grant and to take off for the world instead!  And this, without taking a single plane!

Photography:  © Ayack So what was your main motivation when you decided not to take a single plane?

–        I didn’t want to go for the «easy way around» and I wanted to keep my carbon footprint to a strict minimum. But above all, I wanted to give Time back to Space. I wanted to set myself in a purely geographical approach, as Geography is the encounter of Time and Space. I wanted to follow the approach of these Arabic Geographers who used to move around the geographical limits of the Land such as Muhammad al-Idrisi or Ibn Hawqal. I also wanted to escape France and its never-ending crisis.

How long did you think it would take you?

–        2 years maybe 3. It actually took 5 years.

How many countries did your travel through?

–        About 40 but I didn’t really count.

Did you take anything particular with you in your travels?

–        Yes, I took Purification Tablets (Potassium Permanganate) to purify water as I didn’t want to buy plastic bottles. I also brought a machete and a harpoon but these were confiscated by the American customs. Actually, I got more stuff taken away from me by authorities than thieves!

What challenges did you face during your travels?

–        In Colombia, 300 grams of cocaine were placed in my bag whilst I was going through a body search. I had to argument with the guys for a few hours not to get arrested. In the Bahamas, I was fishing with a Hawaiian sling and I got chased by two huge bull sharks quite obviously interested by the fish I had caught, so I let go of the fish and saw the two bull sharks feasting on it. I didn’t hang around too long after that and went back onto the boat.

–        When I was crossing Kyrgyzstan with a couple of horses, we went through an area ridden with horse flies that were harassing the horses quite badly. At some point, the horses totally flipped out and started galloping away quite frenetically. In the process I fell off together with most of my equipment for camp. I managed to gather most of it back and set off running after the horses. I was quite conscious that I was in the middle of the wilderness and that without the horses I could en up stranded there. I found myself confronted with myself and I was on the verge of flipping out just like the horses had done. I had 2 ways to react: give up or keep going so I just started running in the same direction the horses took and after about a mile, they were within sight again! I knew that eventually, they would stop running but I didn’t know when!

Photography:  © Ayack

Have you travelled through all the oceans?

–        I have not crossed the Indian Ocean but I have crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 5 months and the Pacific Ocean in a year and a half. I took 2 boats from Panama to Tahiti and then Tahiti to New Zealand with the Infinity crew.

Did you travel through the Amazon?

–        Yes, I travelled through the mighty river, which brings life there and saw breath-taking red blood sunsets over the jungle. I also crossed through El Mirador in Guatemala.

What are the strongest moments of your 5 years travels around the world?

–        Moments in the wild, the Mayans Pyramids over the canopy, the volcano of Tambora, storms in the Strait of Gibraltar, the horses running away in the Himalayan foothills, the Australian desert and its bush fires.

What would you say the travels have brought you?

–        Naivety, innocence, suspicion and a definite will to keep a certain capacity to stay enchanted by new horizons and the immense beauty of this world.

©AYACK All Rights Reserved

Magic encounter with The Big Underwear Social Tour!

By Angelina Cecchetto on 11th April 2014

What happens in Mexico, stays in Mexico! Well, having lived in Mexico, I normally abide by this principle but for once I decided not to, as there are some encounters in life that we have to share. May it be for the sheer magic of the encounter or the sheer magic of the harmony you can’t but feel with some people; my encounter with the Big Underwear Social Tour was definitely one of these!

©2014 Angelina Cecchetto

I met Irmi and Brady, who are the 2 main artists of the Big Underwear Social Tour, in a small fishermen’s village on the Caribbean side of Mexico where I was spending New Year’s Eve celebrations with friends. A few days later, having to catch a bus and a ferry to go to Belize to dive the Blue Hole, I met with Brady’s daughter Rosie who very kindly offered me a lift back to Playa del Carmen in “the bus”.

When I saw the Big Underwear Social Tour bus – a 1978 AmGen retired city bus that Irmi and Brady marvelously refurbished to fit their project – my eyes started glittering with joy and a big smile travelled through my face. This bus seemed to me to be the bus of happiness.

The Big Underwear Social Tour (BUST) is not just a bus, it is an inspiring itinerant artistic act founded by Irmi and Brady in 2010. They now travel across South America for about 6 months of the year in the bus and for the remaining 6 months they perform at festivals and corporate events in Europe.

©2014 Angelina Cecchetto

When I saw and entered the bus, I was in a state of happiness and excitement that only children have the privilege to feel. I felt privileged to be in it and to share some life moments with some of the most beautiful people I have been very lucky to meet in my travels.

Behind the great artistic show, there is a deeper message in the BUST act and philosophy that touched me particularly and this is a message of true Freedom and Altruism. Altruism towards people and the planet.

When I asked Irmi and Brady what was the main message behind their act and lifestyle, here is what they replied:

–       We are exploring the relationship between money and friendship. We don’t understand the evolutionary changes in our societies. Friendship and family is one thing. Strong family ties are another form of racism, they give you a border (look after our family and not the rest of humanity). Money has become more and more important and is taking away the friendship opportunity. Facebook, is symptomatic of this.

The second main axis of their philosophy is Nature conservation.

–       We often try to inspire people to pick up garbage as we find it to be an international emergency.  Sometimes we go around picking trash from the beach, do local initiatives to try to inspire local people to pick up the trash themselves. Some people just drop things in the street or just anywhere. Before buying new things at the supermarket, go and see if you can find it around you, this gets people together and strengthens friendship. It’s better than making corporations richer.

©2014 Angelina Cecchetto

Exploring the relationship between money and friendship, what a vast and fascinating topic! Irmi and Brady who hosted up to 14 artists when they did their first tour with the bus, have explored the boundaries between money and friendship more than anyone else maybe.

For me, Irmi and Brady incarnate a notion of Hope. They are two independent and talented artists who decided to live free mentally, physically and morally from a constrictive norm and are successful in doing so. They also teach us all a great lesson of altruism in the act of sharing space and taking time to have quality time with others and using their skills and talents to bring attention to the critical situation the planet is in and try to inspire people to act about it.

For what they do, I respect them and thank them. I am very grateful I have spent a couple of days in the Big Underwear Social Tour bus with Irmi, Brady and Rosie, they are some of the most inspirational, altruist and free artists I have met so far.

I wish them bons voyages!