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Going green, globally: An interview with the founders of The Green Journey

Collage of the green journey

Going green, globally: An interview with the founders of The Green Journey

After leaving the corporate world, Megan and Polo teamed up to start their own climate journey and bring people along as they travel the world only using clean transportation methods: sailboats, bikes, electric trains, by foot, and more! Gen180 spoke to  The Green Journey on social media and how their adventures have impacted their lives and the communities they travel to.


Jamie Wertz, Generation180: Can you each share a bit about your background and why you started The Green Journey?

Megan and Polo, The Green Journey: Before starting The Green Journey, we were both working in corporate roles when we met and realized we had a shared passion for climate issues. We got to talking and both realized we felt ready to take another leap in our careers and our climate advocacy so we decided to start The Green Journey. 

We had experience in low-carbon solutions and we wanted to be able to show people the things they could do in their own lives to help stop climate change. We wanted to find a way to show people all of the subsidies and grants that were available to people through climate legislation. 

So we started sharing our experiences through The Green Journey to show people what is possible to do in your own life and travel to reduce your carbon emissions.


J: What inspired you both to begin this journey attempting to travel the world sustainably and what sparked the idea to launch an Instagram account to document it?

P: What makes an exploration worth doing is telling people about it so people can be affected. So we started sharing on Instagram, we realized that it affects people; but you need to go deeper than social media to get to the change we wanted, so we decided to organize in-person events that advocate for clean energy this summer. It comes back in part to climate anxiety, and the reality that no one person can do everything in the environmental space. 

Still, one of the beauties of social media is that it is a powerful tool for giving information in quick, digestible bites. An early example of the inspiration behind our social media storytelling was when we went to Peatlands in Finland. Located there is an incredible NGO called Snow Change Co-op, and it was an aha moment for me. This group is doing incredible things, and we wanted to help tell those stories through social media.


J: What are some of the modes of transportation that you have used to limit your emissions while traveling?

P: Up to this point, we have had a lot of fascinating transportation experiences. There are three that stand out when thinking back on our travels: hitchhiking, biking, and sailing. The first was when we hitchhiked to the Arctic Circle in Europe to discuss a nature restoration project. Next, we crossed Eastern Europe by bike — what interested us was the last white river in Europe because there is one river between Greece and Albania that doesn’t have any obstacles for 300 miles or so. The last experience that stands out is when we sailed from Eastern Europe to Florida to help show individuals what is possible with clean forms of transportation.


J: How has this experience of choosing clean transportation changed your overall experience while traveling from country to country?

M: When you’re opting for clean transportation while traveling, you’re forced to slow down a bit, which lets you get in touch with people and learn about the place, which has so many sustainable tourist elements because you’re less of a tourist and more of a traveler. You get to learn about and experience the place you’re in rather than just flying over or driving through it.

In terms of sustainability, it has definitely put into perspective how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. For example, in Finland and Italy, the train systems are great because trains are affordable and easy to take. The United States lags behind with unreliable buses and trains, so it is clear why people are flying more often than using public transit. We have the perspective of how policies that support clean public transit systems can make the situation better. We want to show people what is possible and help use our work to expand access to those clean transportation modes.


J: What are some of the most memorable moments in your travels so far?

M: One of our proudest moments was hitchhiking in Poland and being picked up in an electric vehicle. We were trying to get a ride, and after a bit of time with no luck, a woman and her dog offered to pick us up in her Tesla. We drove almost 400 miles in that car and only had to stop to charge twice. The charging time was nice because it offered us a moment to pause, stretch our legs, and chat with our driver. It was amazing how seamless the whole experience was road-tripping with an EV, and the drive was smooth, too!


J: How have you felt the impact of your clean energy choices on the communities you travel to?

M: Our community in Berkeley, California, already is rooted in an appreciation of nature and outdoors. But, our work in the clean energy space has shown people in our community what is possible in their lives to embrace using clean energy by going electric. We have had friends interested in learning more about and purchasing electric vehicles, which is great to see.

We also have a friend with a paella business and they are considering switching to an induction stove from a propane stove. It has been amazing to see the ripple effect our work with clean energy has had on the community around us.

It has been amazing to see the ripple effect our work with clean energy has had on the community around us.

J: That is amazing! It is great to hear about the impactful work you have done. We like to end these conversations by asking: What gives you hope about our clean energy future?

P: I have been thinking a lot about the importance of the sun in many different cultures. It has often been revered, and for the first time in history, we have harnessed the sun as a form of cheap energy. It is inspiring to think about where we are in the long term of human history with our ability to harness the sun, and I have hope for the development of solar energy in the future.

M: One of the biggest things that gives me hope is witnessing the diversity of people who are, in one way or another, involved in clean energy. It’s not just older people who are into solar energy or just young people who are doing clean energy in the streets, and knowing that I am in a diverse community that cares about climate change is really inspiring. Through our travels, we know people from every country who care about the environment and are inspiring. That gives me a lot of hope for the future. 


Follow along on social media as Megan and Polo travel the country using clean transportation!