Rosie Barton is a contributing London-based writer.

The Habitat

As things in the real world are going a bit Pete Tong and we find ourselves up the creek without a paddle, Mars suddenly doesn't seem like such a bad option. Not a Mars bar, although with the pear-shaped havoc making the majority miserable, eating chocolate and the entire contents of one's fridge seems inevitable. However, on second thoughts, unwise. After all, we are supposed to be stockpiling, and who knows if we will be able to get hold of Marmite after the apocalypse

Anyway, back to space. This week's podcast combines scientific experiment with Big Brother-esque monitoring of human behaviour, but without Divina McCall and weekly nominations. Think Love Island meets Nasa-style Bear Grylls: Man vs Wild, fewer bikinis and putting eggs in baskets, and more space suits and powdered egg whites. Spacesuits I can get on board with – very Ground Control to Major Tom – but dehydrated turkey and no fresh air for a year, no, thank you very much kind Sir, but I would like to decline. 

Let’s get things straight here. These six volunteers are not actually on Mars, but on a remote mountain in Hawaii where they are simulating life on Mars – sounds mad – I mean, why confine yourself to 30-second cold showers and compostable loos anywhere other than Glastonbury? But this remarkably unselfish act on behalf of the participants is essential for scientists to understand whether life – real human life – on Mars is possible, (a fate that seems more and more welcome under the current climate). It’s their frustrations, discoveries, and relationships with each other (now we’re talking) that are documented in this podcast – taped and sent to host Lynn Levy, who takes us through their Life On Mars... (cue Bowie and sailors fighting in the dance hall). 

But seriously, even if you are not a Rocket Man (burning up his fuse up there alone) or remotely interested in the extraterrestrial, this podcast, with each episode coming in on the right side of 30 minutes, will open your eyes to the bigger picture and any distraction from De Pfeffel Johnson and political pandemonium is sure to be a relief

Click here to tune into The Habitat.

How To Give Up Plastic, Will McCallum

As I watched a batty woman in a tartan beret, wheeling along one of those shopping bags favoured by Grannies dressed entirely in purple, doing a door-to-door bin service at 12.30am on Saturday night (and by bin service, I mean checking that the residences of the street are properly sorting out their rubbish, or else taking it upon herself to ensure retribution i.e. emptying the contents of your bins all over the pavement), I was reminded of two things. The first, how rubbish (pun intended) the borough of Camden’s bin collection is (once every two weeks… queue the hilarious Bins to Barnes saga featured in Dolly Alderton’s epic Everything I Know About Love), and two, maybe this Bathilda Bagshot-esque member of the neighbourhood watch had a point: to get people's attention, sometimes you have to strew their trash all over their doorstep. (Oh, and a third thing: how much I love a tartan Beret).

So before you roll your eyes and accuse me of preaching to the choir by recommending that we cut down on plastic, something we are all aware of, and yes we want to make David Attenborough happy yada yada yada, just consider the contents of your own bins. And with one truckload of plastic entering the ocean every minute, it would be great if all that was in said bins was fish and the odd turtle. 

I, like many, feel overwhelmed by the attempt to cut plastic out of my life. And short of moving to a cabin in the Glen – fueled by a windmill, eating grass, and milking my cow Eyvonne, all whilst knitting clothes from an old hessian sack, oh, and of course time travelling back to a pre-plastic world in 1906 – I just don’t see how it is possible. And if you were hoping, like I was, that this book was going to have to have all the secret answers that the companies who make their money from this mass single-use plastic consumption have been keeping locked away in a high-security bunker with the Philosopher’s Stone and Peter Crouch’s right leg, then you will be disappointed. I also wish I could say this was a funny book – witticism after witticism – but there is no secret answer and the situation isn’t funny. So don’t come this way for LOL’s (for that, I direct you once again to Dolly Alderton), but do read this book if you want to help in any way you can. Will McCallum, Greenpeace UK’s Head of Oceans (can’t help thinking his parents missed a trick by not calling him Poseidon), breaks down plastic (in a way science sadly cannot…) into small bite-size chunks (caveat: I am not suggesting you eat your plastic, we know that’s bad for you), taking it one bottle of Coca Cola at a time. So have a read and take from it what you can – be it making your own toothpaste or rifling through your neighbours bins, in a fancy hat.

Click here to discover How To Give Up Plastic by Will McCallum.

Also on Because Magazine:

Simon Doolan's set-to-release book ‘Drag: The Complete Story' serves us all the looks.

+ Ethical, sustainable, mindful: if three buzzwords could epitomise 2019...

+ Stay updated with the #WomanCrushWednesday thread with Cynthia Nge's nomination.