Rich Roll, 52-year-old ultra-endurance athlete, named by Men’s Health magazine to be among “25 Fittest Men in the World” and the “Fittest Vegan On Earth”, is now full-time wellness & plant-based nutrition advocate, public speaker and host of the popular Rich Roll Podcast. Formerly an overworked Hollywood lawyer (and alcoholic junk food addict), he is a very well-versed Podcast host who always knows the right questions to ask, and literally distills wisdom out of narrative stories from his interviewees.

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I didn’t reach my athletic peak until 43. I didn’t write my first book until 44. I didn’t start my podcast until I was 45. . . . . . At 30, I was certain my life was over. At 52, I now know it’s only just beginning. . . . . . If you feel lost, I’m with you. If you feel stuck, I’ve been there. If you think you’re broken, you’re not. . . . . . It’s never too late. Time has not passed you over. No matter where you find yourself, there is always a path forward. Be patient. Kind to yourself and others. Act in contradiction to fear. Invest in yourself. In time, you will find a spark. No matter how slight, fan it. Build on it. And don’t give up until the dim flame becomes a bonfire. . . . . . I believe in you, even if nobody else does – because the human spirit is boundless. And because higher consciousness is a shared collective, free and always available. ✌🏼🌱 -Rich 📷 @pranalens

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David Bronner, 5th generation in line from a family of chemists, Harvard graduate, 16-year vegan, super cool hippie and “cosmic spiritual being” who went all around and came back to his inherited family cause so he can also “use commerce as a fiscally responsible form of activism”, with soap being the vehicle to deliver his grandfather’s message “We are all one or none.” (that’s why Dr. Bronner soaps are always covered with words of wisdom).

Sustainability is about connectedness. It’s about a holistic perspective of the impact that we have on the soil and the downstream implications of all the decisions we make. It’s not just “organic” or “vegan” or “non-vegan”, we have to broaden that aperture and realize that cascading implications of how all of these things are interrelated in a broader, more holistic way.

– Rich Roll (Podcast with David Bronner)

This is how Rich Roll summarizes David Bronner’s psychedelic experience in Amsterdam which became the revelation for him and subsequently taking up the family brand Dr. Bronner’s, through the sustainability implications of how we raise food and crops for humans on planet earth.

(Having learned to make DIY cold press castile soap myself, I can testify for the honest and sustainable ingredients in a good soap. And I also confirmed a few tricks on making soap after watching this Podcast. 😂)

There are more than a few of Rich Roll Podcasts that have completed transformed my mind with inspirational thought-provoking long conversations, which I often consider to be better than a good book. These long-format interviews are the best way to dive under the superficial talks and interact on a deeper level with great minds and souls:

with Dean and Anne Ornish on lifestyle and well-being

with Nimai Delgado on vegan bodybuilding

with Jimmy Chin and Chai on the making of documentary Free Solo

(also a full podcast with Alex that I watched in awe)

As the modern convenient way of life was brought to us by the sophisticated developed world, so was plastics. This durable material with a promise of convenience is omnipresent in all society: our supermarkets and refrigerators are filled with single-use plastic packaging. Tribal communities in the most remote fishing villages where stories of how older generations fished with spider web lines now even have access to cheap and ever-enduring nylon. Plastics now lie in the deepest oceans and carry on in forms of big floating garbage patches or microscopic molecules within living beings from plankton, fish, to the bloodstreams of us, human.

Having traveled in lots of underdeveloped countries in South East Asia, I knew very well of the smell of toxic smoke coming out of a burning pile of plastic by the roadside. You can’t really blame the locals. For centuries people were used to getting rid of their (organic) waste by a simple toss to the bush, where everything is returned back to earth. But cheap fast moving consumer goods can now be easily obtained even at local mom-and-pop shops, where habitats are un-equipped with the awareness and ability to properly deal with the leftover packaging these products come in.

In a bigger sense, humans invented and populated an unleashed demon which they don’t know how to tame. I often think the plastic crisis will end up to be the very downfall of our species.

The easy solution – burning – could have the potential to be the “cleanest” way to dispose of large amounts of waste – through high tech incineration. We might all know its shining example in Sweden:

This is a very insightful investigation into one of the best examples in the world of waste processing. In Singapore where I live, it is also one of the most effective ways to get rid of garbage. In a cold climate country like Sweden, incinerators can be a very efficient solution compared to a lot of countries who just dump their waste into the ocean and burn dirty coal for winter heating. It seems like a win-win answer to a combination of problems.

But what this video found out eventually, is that these incineration plants come quite expensive and is inefficient at least half of the year. At its core is a “burning question” and it arrived at a thought-provoking answer I very much agree with: shouldn’t we put our major resources and investments into recycling and reducing waste at its source?

An example of recycling’s future we could look deeper into:

Recycling is the medicine we can take for our early on-set chronic disease of plastic pollution that treats only the symptoms. To tackle the cause of the disease and stop it from its origin, a radical lifestyle change – reducing waste is the only solution and happens to be something everyone can participate.

In Switzerland, I came across a very good example. Swiss household garbage is collected in special disposal bags which residents acquire by paying a substantial fee. Offenders who don’t use these bags or doesn’t follow the rules won’t get their garbage picked up and may result in getting fined. This is the only way to throw away garbage and it comes at a price (like a garbage tax based on volume). This resulted in every single person starts to put their effort and awareness into avoiding waste in the first place. The recycling rate in Switzerland ended up high and organic waste was mostly composted. For those who don’t bother, pay up for the eventual cost of disposal/recycling.

While I should say Bravo to policies like this, there is a long way to go for the rest of the world. I definitely believe it is the governments’ responsibility to ban single-use plastics, which could open up new markets and sparkle new inventions and even brand new industries to fuel the economy.

Western consumerism and mass consumption for fueling the ever-growing economy is done by raping nature, and is sadly now a standard model for the whole humanity and tHis collective disaster has resulted in a global ecological collapse. Nature doesn’t have boarders, so is our own waste and pollution that now chokes the entire earth. Plastics, apart from greenhouse gasses and other toxic waste, is a major end product that will stay around for hundreds and thousands of years. Those who act upon it will be remembered by our children’s children.

In an ideal world in my mind, a punitive tax should be created based on both consumption and waste. People should be taxed for existing on this earth to simply put, because all resources on our planet – land, water, clean air, and clear blue sky, is valuable.

Just watched this new released documentary from Netflix called Chasing Coral. It’s about how a group of filmmakers and scientists try to capture the global coral bleaching on cameras. It also tells your a lot about the coral and the whole ocean/ planetary eco system. In the end it’s nothing most of us divers don’t already know, but I think it’s important for people who don’t dive or know much about the ocean to see. And I think that should be EVERYONE. The corals and reefs really come to life and it’s so awesome and moving. This is what I want to do as well as a cause, to call for action and help chip in to turn the tide around in terms of saving our ocean. I completely related to all the people in the film, and can’t help but cried through the whole 2nd half. 😭😭😭

They also have very well thought-out call-to-action on the film website where you can pass the message around. You can also encourage the people around you to watch it as well.

The fight is down to us now. The diving we love, the food we eat, the life we are living, it all depends on you and me. And the corals – they don’t have much time left.

There’re a couple of events I have had the privilege of attending that I really felt like I was at the right place at the right time. And this year’s ADEX was one of them. Meeting and listening to Dr. Silvia Earle, Nobel peace prize recipient and 2nd president of East Timor José Ramos-Horta, and people like Brazilian filmmaker Cristian Dimitrus, gave me more than inspirations. It is after time like these I really feel like I learned like a sponge and grew like bamboo.

It’s either a coincidence or the editor of this month’s AsianDiver was following my social media interaction with some filmmakers. 😂 As all this talk about shark fin consumption and sustainable seafood has exactly been my focus for the past few months.

“腹下有翅,味并肥美,南人珍之” (明代李时珍《本草纲目》) There is this sentence mentioning shark fin consumption by “the southerners” in Li Shizhen’s Compendium of Materia Medica all the way dating back to Ming dynasty (1500s), southerners at the time being current Guangdong, Vietnam & SE Asia.

Shark fin consumption, however, has come a long way from being just a Chinese problem. In fact if you go to China now you don’t really see it that much any more. I myself have seen more restaurants in Singapore serving shark fins in one month than in all my 26 years living in China combined. Chinese traditional medicine, like many other traditions, is going through a really tough phase right now in China. There are constant debates going on amongst intellectuals regarding its harm over its value. As for shark fins, with negative media portrayal and celebrity endorsement, it has become a symbol of corruption and has been disapproved by most mainland Chinese. And that’s been for almost 10 years now. (In Guangdong province it is a different story. The list of animals that has been on their menu is even appalling to the rest of China.)

Yet shark products consumption is now epidemic worldwide. The situation is especially bad in Southeast Asia. Go to any Chinese styled restaurants in SEA, Singapore especially, chances are that shark fin soup is a dish proudly listed on the menu, sometimes even as a star dish.

This product, together with manta ray gills, are now mostly marketed to overseas Chinese decedents, among whom the “traditional heritage” is still alive and strong. After living in Singapore and Southeast Asia for over 2 years, I formed a habit of constantly comparing everything with China. It occurred to me that Mao forcing China into cultural revolution and the destruction of Four Olds decades ago might turn out to be a blessing in disguise after all. (Many other gems of heritage destroyed during that time is another topic for another day.)

In some western countries the shark cartilage supplement pills are also widely available from big supplement brands, from which the source being covered up but no-less questionable.

But the worst of all cases are the HK/Cantonese immigrants outside of China, US/Canada/Singapore, serving shark fin soup on wedding and banquet tables as a status symbol still to this day.

To address the issue we must find it’s real source. Instead of blindly blame “China” for shark fin problems, the video in the link below perfectly explains the problem in US. And thanks to people like Shawn Heinrichs and @sharkgirlmadison, more truth can be unveiled.

With all this being said, at the end of the day, when I look at the piles and piles of dead sharks in all these videos, I also know that we are draining the ocean of all its fish. Even if we leave the sharks alone, they might not even find as much food to sustain themselves any more. As with the prediction of many studies, by 2048 we would’ve emptied the ocean with all its abundance. We have much much bigger problems to worry about than just sharks.

But as a great man once said: All great journeys start from a single step.

A movie I just watched over the weekend, A Plastic Ocean, tells the story about how plastics decompose in a million year life cycle and in the meantime how they keep disintegrate into smaller pieces until every species have it in their food & blood. It’s just daunting how few people really cares about this issue. Are we really that short sighted?

But the truth is maybe we are. Like Leo said in Before The Flood, people usually tune off when you start to talk to them about the environment and conservation. But few realise that, the things you are busy dealing with everyday, the things you work hard for, won’t be there any more if we all choose to ignore this warning.

Not long ago I watching Rob Stewart’s Revolution in Asia Dive Expo. Apart from the cute baby flamboyant cuttlefishes coming out of their eggs, the ocean didn’t really stick in my mind after first viewing. Instead, an aerial footage of Canada’s ancient forests being eaten up and polluted by the tar sand oil mines shocked me.

Alberta forests eaten up by tar sand mines (Screenshot from Revolution)

Canadian forests being polluted by tar sand washing (Screenshot from Revolution)

I could not believe what I was seen. It looked almost unreal.

I think if everyone can watch this film then the problem will be solved. Here’s a bit of behind-the-scenes of what’s in the movie:

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Unfortunately the good die young. Rob Stewart sacrificed his life for the cause, his life’s devotion to ocean and environment conservation, at the age of 37.

I also read something thought-provoking recently, that I’d like to share:

The environmental problems we have now is really nothing compared to the long geological and biological cycles of earth’s evolution. Millions of years from now on, the planet’s carbon and ecological imbalance will return to normal. Life will thrive once again on earth. But we won’t be the ones writing that part of the story. In fact we might not even last pass the end of this century, if we continue to live the way we do. The earth does not necessarily need our saving, but we really need to save OURSELVES.

It dawned on me: conservation is really just conserving our own species’ future. When our generation is gone, our children will be the ones questioning “why didn’t they do anything back then?” The whole film of Revolution revolves around how people from all over the world protest against environmental issues, among them the youths especially. The young people, the next generation kids, are are ones caring about the future, when WE are doing nothing about it. In the film there’s this 9 year old German kid Felix Finkbeiner who founded a worldwide organization to plant trees and campaigns passionately about it. It gave me hope.