Question everything. A sentence I have heard over and over again from my parents, teachers and friends. My awareness for sustainability definitely comes from my upbringing and because I’ve always felt very connected to nature – so much so that when I was younger my now best friend didn’t want to be friends with me because she thought it was weird that I talked to trees. It’s not right?!
My German mum was probably my biggest influence, as she has always been very mindful when it came to food, clothes and even wellness. She sent me to my first yoga class at 17 and brought me to a natural healer at 16, which at the time I thought was maybe a bit too ‘hippie’, but I am still going to yoga and recently bought my first crystal (which ironically now my mom finds a little to hippie of me). A lot of our furniture was collected off of the streets and revamped with a coat of paint or new upholstering and our food, which always had veggies as the main focus, came from the farmer’s market. I have been thinking a lot about the influence my grandpa had on me as he recently passed away and have realised how much of my passion for wellness and a healthy lifestyle comes from him. Until well into his 80s he would go for a daily swim and would actively seek to learn more about food and what being ‘healthy’ means. I would get photocopies of interesting articles, exercises to help with my back problems and all of his gifts were DIY kits of some sort. I would never get bored of hearing him talk about plants and flowers and all the different kinds of care they needed, and I feel him near me when I take care of my own now.
The turning point probably came when one summer in Sardinia, Italy, we went to what we call La Spiaggia dei Legnetti (“the beach of sticks”) because it was full of wooden sticks and branches washed ashore. It was my mom’s favourite place and ours secretly too because we got to make DIY projects with all of the beautiful wood we collected. One year, however, when we returned, with high expectation and excitement, we found the beach covered in plastic. Where did it come from? Why was there so much of it? Why did some items look like they were from the 70s? And why were there so many toothbrushes?
(P.S. I now know that every plastic toothbrush you have ever used is still on this planet and will most likely outlive you – hello bamboo toothbrush!)
I had always been interested in fashion and started off the classic Devil wears Prada-way – working as an intern doing everything from bringing editors coffee, walking their dogs, babysitting their kids, organising their fashion week schedules and assisting on shoots. Anyone that’s ever done it knows that you put your blood sweat and tears into it (literally!) and one day, sitting in the midst of a mountain of returns (if you follow @fashionassistants or are one you know what I mean), I just thought what am I doing? What is this for? Why are we so desperately trying to sell people things they don’t need? Who is making all these clothes I am dressing this model with? That dress costs more than my rent, are the people making it getting paid fairly?
Wearing a dress made from Eucalyptus Tencel from The Acey.
What followed was a Pandora’s box, once I’d opened it the questions started flowing and there was no way of closing it – nor did I want to. I quit my latest internship. Finished my last year of Uni with a project on sustainability and a dissertation on feminism in new media. I found a job at a company that I truly believed in, that makes Piñatex®, a leather-alternative made from pineapple leaf fibre that is a by-product of the food industry. I started researching more and more about the damaging effects of the fashion industry on the planet and on the people making it all happen whilst sharing everything I was learning, including sustainable brands I found via instagram on my blog. Social media became such a powerful tool to learn more about sustainability, share what I had learned with the world (okay, mainly my friends), but most importantly, I found my community that made the fight for the planet feel a lot less lonely, a lot more achievable and a lot more inspiring.
In regards to my own wardrobe, I’ve owned most of my clothes since I was about 16 and stopped buying fast fashion several years ago, only turning to sustainable brands when I truly needed something. I have completely switched to natural and organic beauty two years ago and coconut oil is now my best friend. Never felt better.
I eat 98% plant-based and haven’t eaten meat in about 10 years – as a kid I felt too bad for the animals and now that I’ve learned more about the environmental impact meat has on the planet, I would never go back of my own volition. Chloe and Charlie both told me about this amazing company called Oddbox, which saves wonky veg that supermarkets don’t want because it’s not perfect enough (whatever that means) and I absolutely love it – the unboxing excitement on the day it arrives is real! I have also been able to drastically reduce my consumption of plastic thanks to zero-waste stores, DIY recipes and simply asking myself over and over again whether I truly needed to buy that plastic-wrapped item (spoiler: the answer is usually no).
That being said, I am by no means perfect or zero waste or fully vegan. The truth is that we are living and breathing human beings who have to consume and will never be able to have a carbon footprint of zero, but that’s okay – the point is to be more conscious and mindful, making changes (and even small sacrifices) where possible; to live as sustainably as you possibly can in a modern society and demanding change from governments where your own abilities come to a limit. Question everything. Question everything and be prepared to sit at the table with solutions. I am positive that change can and will come, as long as we all do our part, simply because it has to.
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