Although nowadays it has become very fashionable among the rich and famous to be a conservationist and “do things” to help the planet (including flying in private jets to talk about it while sipping bottled water from Fidji), very few people (rich, famous or otherwise) were in the game 20 years ago.
One of those pioneers was David de Rothschild, who at the age of 23 was invited to a Polar expedition that changed his life forever, turning him into an indefatigable eco-warrior and adventurer. That year was 2001. Since then, David has reached both poles (the youngest Briton to do so), become one of only 14 people to have ever cross Antarctica and been part of the fastest team to traverse the Greenland ice cap; and all this by the age of 41.
Our Editor Julia Pasarón had a good chat with David over the phone, with him in sun soaked Oaxaca and Julia in grey, rainy London. They spoke about the future of our planet, mescal, and why not to dive alone at night.
I-M: Why are you in Oaxaca at the moment?
D.dR: I’m here because we are making mescal with the company we founded a few years ago, The Lost Explorer. Mescal was the first product we ever did and for me it was always interesting the idea of telling anybody, “Hey, before we try and sell you anything, why don’t we sit down and share a drink and a story?” I believe mescal is the much more sophisticated older sister of tequila, a drink meant for sipping and sharing. The idea of The Lost Explorer was always about capturing stories, imagination and curiosity.
Mescal is the product that we have always had, long before we did wellness, clothing and everything else. I think it will be the driving product, as we constantly work in making it better and more sustainable, from the extraction of the juice, all the way to the packaging and of course, the relationship with the workers, the people and the Mexican culture.
I work in partnership with a family, where everybody is involved. That’s the beauty of it.
There is no winning and losing here. Either we all win or we all lose.
I-M: You have been very active in spreading the conservation message to the younger generations, with projects like Mission Control and Adventure Ecology as well as financing initiatives that promote sustainability through your foundation Sculpt the Future. Which are the achievements so far of which you are the proudest?
D.dR: Without sounding too negative, I think that when you are an environmentalist, success is not necessarily a word you can use because we are actually losing. We explain the situation and the fight time and again and people wish you well and all that but seem to think this has nothing to do with them.
The truth is that we are all in the same spaceship, Earth. There is no winning and losing here. Either we all win or we all lose. So I guess what I’m most proud of is my involvement in planting the seed of the conversation over 15 years ago. In 2005 I was very proud to help start the conversation about plastic, but I am sad that we are still having it. It seems that despite of the increase of awareness, legislation, media coverage… despite of all that, we are producing and throwing away more plastic than ever before.
So sometimes, it’s hard to remain positive.