Hayley McLellan – Bravely Addressing Plastic Pollution #RethinkTheBag

Hayley McLellan began her career in 1989 training dolphins at Sea World, Durban in South Africa. For over two decades she dedicated her passion to learning about animal husbandry, their natural behaviour and implementing educational presentations of many species. During this time she co-created informative bird shows, as well as led the uShaka Sea World marine mammal team as Curator.

Her ever-evolving conservation awareness and experiences grew her passion for preservation of the environment today. As Environmental Campaigner at the Two Oceans Aquarium, human behaviour is her newfound inspiration. Her campaigns address the crisis of plastic pollution affecting nature, and her call to action is for all to adopt solutions to address this.

She seeks a variety of audiences to share her campaigning enthusiasm with, trusting that humans want to do the right thing.

The vision of a plastic shopping bag free South Africa, represented in the Rethink the Bag campaign, is currently her life’s work.

Hiking is a hobby and she joyously summited Mt Kilimanjaro in 2015.

If you had a theme song, what would it be?

It’s been Sara Bareilles – Brave for a very long time. I cannot get enough of the lyrics as well as the energising, ‘be who I am’ style video.  Show me how big your brave is”


What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? 

I quit my position as Curator of Mammals for Sea World, Durban to start my own business. It was called Organic Girl – Supporting Conscious Living and it was to expose people to a healthier, more holistic way of eating and living with mindfulness. One might say I did not succeed as the business closed a year later – bad financial planning and pure naivety, though zero lack of passion! – but I don’t regret a moment as it was an important part of my journey. I did this in 2008, remember the global economic crash? Not terribly smart, although I certainly cannot blame anything on that. I still love my Organic Girl…


If Mars was liveable, would you accept a one way ticket there?

Definitely, eeeek! I did not hesitate on that one….hmmmmm….. Probably because I find myself at a time in my life where I am SO ready for a challenging change of scenery and am working towards what that may be. Although I like stability, I can also be a bit of a risk taker. Hence my 2008 about turn?


If you were given one thousand acres of land what would you do with it?

I would keep an acre for myself to live free and off the grid and, then work with a tree planting organisation to clear alien species and plant indigenous trees to surround myself with.


Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer? 

A gatherer, though not of possessions as I am always keen to weed out what I do not use/need and clear space. I wish I could say that I am a vegetarian or vegan gatherer, but my partner is not willing to forego being a meat eater so I easily get caught up enjoying a delicious braai with him


How many pairs of shoes do you own?

Embarrassingly, about 20….


If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?

I’m not a passionate cook, though I’ve discovered that I make a wonderful kitchen assistant to my chef partner. It’s more fun with two producing the meal. I eat to live, not the other way around, so….if you visited in SUMMER: My couscous salad is a winner. There would be mainly salad type offerings with a potent garlic roll. I would go for chicken something in the mix. WINTER: You would be treated to a hearty soup, which I do enjoy making!


How would people communicate in a perfect world?

With speech bubbles above their heads so we did not have to read one another’s minds and put our foot in it so much? But sincerely – with respect, clarity, truth, compassion, and a big dollop of fun of course!


When you have 30 minutes of free time – how do you pass it?

I read or go for a run


If you woke up to 300 unread emails, how would you prioritise which ones to answer?

Firstly I’d be thrilled as that means there may be potential for meaningful engagement leading to campaign collaboration. So email overload generally happens when I return from leave. I have my logical system.  Instead of being overwhelmed by listing them in “date”, which is my easy daily approach anyway, I will list them “from”. Then I whip through the list to see what/who I can immediately eliminate to the bin. These are obviously either outdated, resolved and no longer applicable or spam mails. Then I search for the seemingly urgent mails, usually from the boss, and continue to prioritise from there. After that, mails get listed by date again and I start at with who has been waiting for my response the longest. I’m all about systems, life’s too precious not to have tools/methods to simplify banal tasks.


Where do you go and what do you do to find peace and recharge?

Hiking or, if I’m able to, I head home to my folks farm in KZN. That’s my slice of heaven…..


If you could know the absolute answer to one question, what question would you ask?

Why/how do people justify the violence of war, and the taking of human life, in the name of religion?


If you could write one new law that everybody had to obey, what would it be?

In South Africa, ZERO tolerance to corruption


What, if anything, have you ever re-gifted?

Clothing and shoes mostly.


What is the most interesting thing you have seen or read this week?

I just finished reading Me by Elton John


What skill or craft  would you like to master?

Playing the piano


If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what would it be?


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