Hey hey, it’s Natalie Fée! Fabulous founder of not-for-profit campaign group, City to Sea!
She’s the author of ‘How to Save the World for Free’ and ‘Do Good, Get Paid’. You’ll often find her speaking about things that matter in public too. City to Sea are best known for their award-winning Refill campaign, with over 400 community schemes and more than 300,000 places mapped on the free Refill app to eat, drink and shop with less plastic. Fill Refill stockists are set to get mapped on the app very soon. Look out!
Last year we added City To Sea to our charity partners as part of our commitment to 1% For The Planet. Nat, and all the wonderful folks at City To Sea campaign every day to stop plastic pollution at source! They’re the people behind World Refill Day and Less Plastic. Earlier in 2023 they asked us to join them in a campaign to share our tips for reducing microplastics when you wash your clothes and we went on to play a small part in their MASSIVE campaign to promote World Refill Day, joining folks around the world who are taking action to prevent plastic pollution.
Anyway, we figured it would be cool to introduce some of the faces behind the environmental campaigns that we choose to support. Nat didn’t set out to be an environmental campaigner, but she sure has become a great one! We caught up with her recently in Bristol to find out how she got started with City To Sea, what she’s working on now & how you can help. Nat is NOT into single use. She IS into not-for-profits. She also likes campfires, oak trees, singing, making it up as she goes along (whilst achieving great things) and folk music! We’re gonna get along just great. Here’s Nat…
WHO IS NATALIE FÉE?
Natalie Fée is a slightly confusing mix of campaigner, songwriter, comedienne, author, speaker and founder of City to Sea, one of the UK’s leading plastic pollution campaigning organisations. And is talking about herself in the third person, so will stop that now!
HOW DID CITY TO SEA COME ABOUT?
Like many, I was catapulted into action on plastic pollution when those devastating images of Albatross were shared with the world by the artist Chris Jordan back in 2014. I was working in TV at the time as a presenter and was frustrated – back then – at the media’s lack of interest and coverage of environmental issues. So I started making my own content, initially a music video (link here if you want a throwback!) and then, after consulting with the local community of Bristol, videos and campaigns on some of the most polluting items of plastic washing up on our riverbanks and coastline. We started getting some traction, then some funding, and have been navigating the stormy-yet-satisfying waters of being a non-profit ever since!
WHY IS CITY TO SEA A COOL PLACE TO BE
I’d be lying if I said it was a cool place to be right now. The team are over-worked and under-resourced and as any founder or leader will know, that’s a hard place to be. But there’s so much we do right, our campaigns have an insanely big impact considering our size (this year we managed to get Westminster to ban plastic cutlery, plates and POLYSTYRENE take-away items – a massive win!) and people culture is second-to-none, we’re honest, transparent, caring and all massively committed to making the world a better place. We wuv eachovver.
IF YOU WEREN’T RUNNING CITY TO SEA WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING
Well, thanks to our CEO, Harriet Bosnell, I’m not running City to Sea anymore. After eight years at the helm I’ve taken a step back and on the days I’m not supporting City to Sea with fundraising, I’m focusing a bit more on my music.
WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON
For City to Sea, we’re doubling down on refill and reuse, and 2024 will see us putting more pressure on UK governments to adopt tangible refill and reuse targets – we’re aiming for 30 percent of packaging to be reusable or refillable by 2030! We’re also launching our consultancy, providing reuse insights and behaviour change guidance to brands and businesses in the reuse space.
Personally, I’m working on my first folk album with a small label in London, as well as singing comedy songs about the environment with my husband as The Funny Terns. And I’m also about to embark on a year-long project with a local oak tree, meditating under it every morning for a year.
HOW DO YOU ESCAPE
From what? My crazy mind? By sitting under an oak tree. Or writing. Or singing. But I don’t do it to escape, just be more present.
Reading our impact report – that time of year when I get to zoom out from the day-to-day and reflect on everything City to Sea’s achieved in the last 12 months.
Donate to City to Sea. You’ll feel amazing for doing something good and we’ll DO amazing things with your donation. xx
ONE PLACE WE SHOULD GO SEE
Bristol. Come and try our reusable, returnable coffee cup scheme while strolling around the floating harbour feeling positive that change is happening!
WHO IS YOUR ZERO WASTE / REFILL HERO
Probably Ben Patten from Dizzie (the business formerly known as Good Club).
I’m always in admiration of people in the refill and reuse space (like FILL!) who’ve sussed the business model to power the change we need to see in the world. And who are great at promoting the cause.
THINGS YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT
On the refill and reuse theme, my face halo (washable face pad that removes make-up with just water). But in all seriousness, food, water, air and shelter. And a pen knife. And someone to help me catch and cook things and stay warm. So probably my husband.
LAST SONG YOU CHOSE TO LISTEN TO
Bring Back the Beaver by the Funny Terns (shameless plug, but it’s true, as we’ve just released it and I’ve had to play the song a LOT).
I’m old school. I genuinely love being able to rock up unprepared at my local zero-waste shop (‘A Better Weigh’ in Clevedon) and use their second-hand containers and jars. That’s cool to me!
HARDEST THING TO FIND ZERO WASTE
Still gotta be crisps, innit.
Awesome product, authentic ethos … and they’re one of our 1% for the Planet partners so they’re also funding other amazing projects as well as having their own impact! Want more? Connect on Instagram with Natalie Fée and City to Sea.
Check the live campaigns page to get involved. Single use is over!