In his Press Play talk titled, “Can Instant noodles save our planet? | Changing the world through connections”, David Amor Gonzalez spoke about creating a community for sustainable living. Before the talk, we discussed his life’s work towards sustainability, the requirements for a global transition, and his opinions on seaweed farming.
Please note: This interview has been edited for increased clarity and readability. David’s views are still fully represented.
You have been speaking about your work with sustainability and transitioning towards sustainable materials. What do you think is the most important piece of work you have done so far?
That is such a difficult question. I can maybe give you the top 3 pieces of work that I’ve done up to date. But I think the first one is actually my failures – my failures have taught me to be resilient and I’ve learned so much from them that it’s been able to give me a chance to be successful today. The other successful piece of work I did was a carbon-neutral food delivery start-up. When I lived in Australia for a year, I really challenged myself and I wanted to make a difference locally within the campus.
And then my final piece of work that I’m most proud of is the connections I’ve made with people, the network I’ve built, and the friendships I’ve created on a global level.
If you had as many resources, both monetary and otherwise, as you needed, where would you begin in trying to save the planet?
My long-term goal is actually seaweed farming, but that requires a lot of investment, so I could do that. But I would actually like to begin with creating a platform, a community, where we can all inspire each other to make a difference together. That could be developing an app, social media, et cetera. Really creating a real movement that focuses on the solutions rather than the problems. Hopefully in five years once there is a big enough community that realises that sustainability is the future, I will use them to build seaweed farms and make a difference in our planet.
You mentioned seaweed and I know in other talks you have called it the crop of the future. Can you tell us why you believe this is so important?
If we compare this crop to land crops – right now we are too obsessed with what’s on land, and unfortunately we don’t have enough of [land], as it only accounts for 29% of the world. That’s one aspect of why I feel like we should look at aquaculture. Seaweed’s growth rate is incredible. Some microalgae have superfood properties such as 57% protein which is more than double of chicken. And it could transform a lot of industries, like biodegradable packaging - there’s just so many things I don’t know where to start.
There’s so many industries that seaweed could transform like biofuels, it’s just that while it does that it’s protecting life on earth as well. It’s reducing ocean acidification which increases biodiversity. This allows more oxygen to be created and more CO2 to be absorbed.
You mentioned biodegradable materials. One of the main arguments raised against these is that they are more expensive or less convenient than non-sustainable alternatives. Do you believe that this is the case?
I partially agree with that statement.
Right now what we need is to create an effective industry. Seaweed is not popular right now, but if we invested more research and time and created more demand for it, we could inadvertently decrease the price and the cost to build sustainable products and sustainable packaging through seaweed.
However, I think being more sustainable can be more convenient in some aspects, because you can save on costs – for example, vegan diets are actually a lot cheaper because you don’t need meat.
Seaweed is a sustainable crop, and I would like to argue that it could be cheaper in the future if we invested time into it. Because you don’t need fresh water: you don’t need pesticides, you don’t need fertilisers, you don’t need deforestation. All you need is a soup of nutrients which is the ocean itself. That could be quite cheap. But right now it’s not that cheap because we need to research it more and understand it more, which comes with time and demand.
Given the divisiveness surrounding climate change today, do you think it is possible to unite to invest in sustainable agriculture and aquaculture?
I think it is very possible. Our generation and the next generation are very promising. I was an individual that wasn’t very sustainable, to be honest – I wasn’t really involved with this world and I didn’t understand it. Even though I cared about it, I ignored it, and nowadays I think people are waking up and there could be innovators within the room. There could be scientists, people that are going to change the world through leading and transforming industries.
What is the most important thing our readers can do to support your work?
Connect with me. Let’s connect together to create a change on a global scale. Right now my work is all about building a platform, a community, where we can all connect, sharing events and opportunities. Also just create friendships, not just networking for business and sustainable opportunities. It’s very overwhelming to put blame on individuals, and when you have another friend with whom you can go on this journey together, it becomes a lot easier to be sustainable.
If there is one thing you would like our readers to take away from your Press Play Salon speech, what would that be?
Find something you love, create purpose from that, and link it in a way where you can regenerate the planet.
Transcribed and edited by Abhi Desai.
The views and opinions presented in this interview belong to David Amor Gonzalez — not Abhi Desai, nor TEDxWarwick.
If you have any questions concerning the interview, and opinions expressed, do feel free to comment in the comments section, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.