In the latest in our Life as I know it series, food and fitness influencer and social media consultant Flora Beverley shares her journey in sustainability so far and the impact it has had on her career and daily life.
My passion for living sustainably started from a young age – I was enamoured with the idea of living as our ancestors did, and wanted nothing more than to cycle, run and ride anywhere I could, aided by the fact that I got horribly car sick. Forgetting all practicalities, I had a strange and inexplicable desire to live off the land, which is odd considering I spent much of my childhood in London.
Although I can’t find a specific reason for my affinity to nature, it was a defining theme of my whole childhood. I have vivid memories of family friends coming to our house, and their sons doing their utmost to destroy entire populations of ants in our garden (and house) and chasing away any pigeons that we had the fortune to house in our garden. I was obsessed with nature and couldn’t understand why anyone might not be.
I gave up meat at the age of four (I couldn’t handle the texture or taste, and later discovered that it made me physically ill), and after discovering where it came from when I was older, I vowed never to partake in its consumption. I was an animal lover through and through and couldn’t differentiate between my favourite horse at our local stables, and the cows in the next door field, destined for slaughter.
Pescetarianism was my gateway drug to sustainability. Having to fight my parents and three sisters to convince them that not eating meat wasn’t a sign of weakness – or worse, weirdness – meant that I became well educated on the sustainability benefits of giving up meat. I remember A-level chemistry teaching us about the benefits of plastic, and how the chemical properties of plastic led to it becoming one of the most durable, and thus problematic, materials of the modern day. This led to more reading on everything else to do with sustainability, and with the growth of my Instagram channel, I felt some sort of responsibility to live the most sustainable life I could, while educating others to do the same, but I still had plenty of learning to do.
Luckily, I was never much into clothes or buying new outfits, but as my social media platforms took off, I became increasingly fascinated with the rise of fast fashion and people’s obsession with its worst perpetrators. I had never been exposed to the idea that clothes could or should be bought on a regular basis – as the second sibling of four, my clothes were primarily secondhand, and my youngest sister was sometimes being handed fourth-hand cast-offs from my elder sister from seven years earlier! The rise of social media allowed fast fashion brands such as Boohoo and Missguided to boom, aided by my influencer compatriots.
Due to my long-lasting love of the environment, or perhaps just my propensity for guilt, rather than fall into the lure of affiliate links and fast fashion, I wanted to learn more about how we could fight the surging tide of unsustainable fashion, food and lifestyle.
During my time at Bristol University studying Biology, I chose many units that allowed me to further my knowledge of sustainability across many sectors, from marine biology to conservation and rewilding. After three years and countless scientific papers, there was no way I could not use what I had learned in my blog, YouTube and Instagram going forwards. After studying Marine Biology I also could not ignore the vast amount of scientific evidence that suggests that most fishing methods in the world we live in are causing irreparable damage to ocean ecosystems. Shortly after I became vegetarian, my boyfriend and I decided to go vegan to reduce our impact on the planet further.
I feel immensely privileged to have the platform I have today, as well as an audience that places a huge amount of trust in what I share. In the past I’ve felt restricted to ‘stay in my lane’ when it comes to sharing online – initially my Instagram was purely about food and fitness – but as I’ve come to realise that nothing exists in a vacuum, I’ve felt more and more inclined to share my sustainability journey as well. Among all its pitfalls and negative press, social media also has a huge amount of power to enact social change and if people will let me, I intend to use it for just that.