Life As I Know It: Rose Ellis

Image: Scuba ready for an underwater seahorse survey, Cambodia

In the latest in our Life as I know it series, model and conservationist Rose Ellis shares her journey in sustainability so far and the impact it has had on her career and daily life.

My name is Rose. So I guess I could say my connection with nature has been since birth, I am named after a flower after all. My horticulturalist parents chose their favourite plant and there the seed was planted. 

My childhood was spent in the countryside, on the family farm. Our lives ever ingrained with the natural world around us, we named our cows after plants and had more types of pets than I can count on my hands and feet, eating our own meat, eggs and vegetables. I saw where my food came from and a strong connection was formed with the earth, how we survive and feed ourselves. I experienced life and death on the farm, giving me an early appreciation for the natural order.

Images: (L) My mum picking fresh Gladioli from her gorgeous garden at home;
(R) In the field whilst studying orcas and elephant seals, a King Cormorant colony in the background, Sea Lion Island, The Falklands

I moved to London to model for Storm and it was through modelling that I was initially able to travel so much; a fun but also interesting vocation for a geographer. I graduated with a degree in Physical Geography from King’s College London. It was at university that I realised the sheer scale of the impact humans are having on the world and the undeniable need for change. Through travel I have seen this with my own eyes – from the shocking palm oil plantations where rainforest should have been in Borneo to the destroyed coral reefs in Cambodia caused by illegal fishing practices.

I felt that I could not sit back and model for fashion brands that are partially responsible for destroying this beautiful world we call home without doing something, anything. I started small and began volunteering at ZSL London Zoo. Once a week I spent my day with the animals, in the hope that I could inspire the public to support conservation efforts. Maybe if more people knew about wildlife, they would want to protect it too.

Images: Surveying Irrawaddy dolphins, Cambodia; Having a break from the binoculars on an Irrawaddy dolphin survey, Cambodia

Conservation then became my main focus and I have volunteered with many amazing people in incredible places, – studying orcas and elephant seals in the Falkland Islands, seahorses and Irrawaddy dolphins in Cambodia and am currently working on bottlenose dolphin project in Italy. Volunteering has brought me so much fulfillment, working for a cause I truly care about and believe in. 

Some of my experiences have deeply affected me, challenged me to question my lifestyle and made me face my values head on. I try to look at the hypocrisies within my own life, to grow and change. I try to live consciously, from being conscious of who I surround myself with to what I buy. Change is essential.

Images: (L) An elephant seal scratches whilst keeping cool in the Tussock grass, Sea Lion Island, The Falklands;
(R) Gentoo penguins making their way to their nesting site after a long day fishing at sea, Sea Lion Island, The Falklands

I have chosen to dedicate my life to conservation, however I can, including writing about our precious yet endangered biodiversity. I write mainly about the ocean; partly because I am a Pisces water baby, but also because the ocean is undeniably invaluable to us. The seagrass meadows are much less publicised than the magnificent rainforests but in fact are 35 times more efficient at sequestering carbon dioxide. Diving and spending endless amounts of time underwater or surveying above has only deepened my fascination for all things marine. And to think that us humans are damaging this beauty, well… it’s unfathomable to me. The prospect of such a drastic career change was, and still is pretty daunting. However, I love the challenges and new life experiences it has bought me. I cannot watch us destroy our home and do nothing about it.

Images: (L) Exploring on a rest day from researching bottlenose dolphins, Italy; (R) A male sperm whale preparing for his deep dive, Kaikoura, New Zealand

When it comes to the environmental crisis we’re facing, not only do we desperately need science to advise policy, we also need people to care to drive change. Everyone is playing a role right now: every decision you make, and every item you consume stands for what you believe in and reflects who you are. Who or what is benefiting? And who or what is suffering? 

That said, you have to pick your battles as there are varying environmental pros and cons with every decision you make. My priority right now is addressing our plastic problem, which is why I’m eradicating plastic from my life. I’ve stopped using any form of single-use plastics for food and beauty, and I’m now looking at ways to reduce reusable plastics where there are more sustainable solutions; including my clothing! 

Even focusing on avoiding plastic comes with such an overwhelming amount of constraints; you can feel like a small fish in a giant ocean, drowning on plastic. But each and every step you take also comes with an incredible feeling of satisfaction and empowerment. I feel encouraged to go further and aim for a waste free lifestyle. 

We are the generation with the power to change in our hands, let’s grasp it and run. 

Together, we can turn the tide.