In the latest in our Life as I know it series, our Brandmark coordinator Lori Delaney shares her journey in sustainability so far and the impact it has on her career and daily life.
What does sustainability mean to me? Purpose.
I’ve always felt at one with the environment. Growing up on a crop farm in the East of Scotland, spending my days running across hay bales with my sister as we re-enacted the scenes from Jaws, (avoiding) picking potatoes and watching as my Dad used the tractor tray to do the famous Ice-bucket Challenge (yes, this did happen!). Having the opportunity to grow up in this way taught me the value of the Earth and why we should protect it but, though it played a part, this was not what lead me to sustainability.
In May 2009 I was diagnosed with clinical depression and EDNOs. I spent the latter half of my teens in an out of hospital, followed by years of outpatient therapy and daily struggles that ultimately left me feeling quite unsure of who I was, what I liked and what I wanted to do. Sucky mental health can do that sometimes, for me at least, I would wake up every morning with my only goal being to make it to the end of the day.
When I turned 21, I travelled to New Zealand, a solo trip to celebrate being discharged from outpatients. I know this is going to sound so completely over-the-top and gushy, but my eyes were opened, and my world was changed. If anyone has ever been lucky enough to visit Lake Wanaka, then you’ll know what I mean. It is the most beautiful I have ever seen the world – a tree sitting in the lake preserved for generations and a town lit with only natural light leaves the galaxy to shine through the night sky. For the first time in years I felt truly inspired and passionate about something, and that something was doing my absolute all to protect the natural world we live in.
Living as sustainably as I can gives me purpose. Now I wake up in the morning with my goal being to make sure I do something today that makes a difference and that drives me forward.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from perfect but I do what I can – starting off with small changes and growing as I learn. I bought a re-usable water bottle, pack my own lunches, and say ‘Hell no!’ when the bartender tries to give me a straw in my G&T.
For a long time, I’d lost the joy in cooking for myself and others, something that I’d actually been quite good at growing up! Thinking about where food is coming from and how to limit my waste has brought the excitement back. I am challenging myself to shop seasonally and organically and use recipes that incorporate ingredients in their entirety. (Check out Max La Manna – he’ll tell you exactly what do with that broccoli stem you’re about to throw in the bin!). If any on you lovely readers have ever seen Ready, Steady, Cook! Then you’ll love Oddbox. It’s like your very own ‘Quickie Bag’. Three weeks in and I’m obsessed. Every Thursday I wake up and there is box filled to the brim with unwanted, wonky fruit and veg just waiting to be roasted, blended and baked.
The toughest change I’ve made (going vegan was easy – we farmed vegetables!) is how I approach shopping and fashion. Midlife-crisis, come at me, but after watching Stacey Dooley in last year’s Strictly Come Dancing (Her documentary ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’ is the hero we all need) I was immersed in the gross reality of the fashion world and if you don’t already know, it’s a complete nightmare. Needless to say, I’ve stopped buying clothes from fast-fashion chains and instead opt to shop from certified ethical brands, charity stores and my absolute fave, clothes swap parties!
I have a checklist of all the areas in my life where I can make changes to be more sustainable and I just make my way through one at a time (though, after starting work at Eco-Age that list is getting longer every day!) I think people can feel pressured to overhaul their life in instant but the way to make the changes doable and make sustainability sustainable is to do it in a digestible way. It’s a bit of a minefield out there and I’ve suffered a fair bit of Eco-Anxiety myself but do what you can when you can.
Sustainability has given me a lust for life that I thought I’d lost, and I feel so incredibly proud to cherish it in my professional as well as my personal life. It’s a term that has different meanings to each individual, but I think we can all find a way to connect to it.