Niomi Smart is a content creator, author of Eat Smart: What I Eat In A Day, an extension of her popular YouTube series, and co-founder of SourcedBox – a healthy, natural snack subscription. Here Niomi shares the story of her sustainability journey so far.
A learning process
My interest in sustainability has been a slow process over the years as I have become more and more aware of the importance of protecting our planet, and learning ways in which we can help and do our bit. There have of course been many serious conversations around the world about the increasing rate of climate change and the damaging effects, so on a personal level it would’ve been impossible for me to ignore this, especially when I am in a position to share these stories with millions of people. I am conscious that we are all still learning and I am doing my best to take my audience on this journey with me, so they can be educated as I am, through mediums that they know, respect and trust.
Social media for social good
My content online has always been a true representation of my personal passions and interests, so naturally as I have become more aware of our responsibilities to protect the planet, my content has also adapted and changed to reflect this. I see my platforms online as an invaluable opportunity to spread these messages, and share what I am learning along the way of this journey into sustainability. We are all responsible for doing our bit and making the small changes that together can make a huge difference.
Switching to reusables
One of the first changes I decided to make was to ditch the plastic bottles and only use a reusable option. Only a year ago it was totally normal for me to pick up a plastic bottle of water in a local convenience store when I was out and about in London, and especially when I was travelling. However now, in a matter of a few months, I go nowhere without my reusable bottle and it has become an extension of me! I also carry a tote bag or two whenever I go to a farmer’s market or the supermarket, and I am shopping far less in general. I am conscious that those who hold a platform of influence have a responsibility to promote positive change. This extends far further than spreading a verbal message and educating via your platform, it’s important to me that I also actively participate and launch initiatives that are designed to make the daunting world of sustainability more digestible.
(READ MORE: 10 SIMPLE SWAPS TO CUT DOWN ON PLASTIC)
I launched Smart Swap last year, a fashion swapping event for people to bring their own preloved clothes and swap them with other items at the party to take home. It’s true what they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure and it is a fun way of giving clothing a new lease of life! It has been such a great success and I’m looking forward to planning more this year.
Slow fashion advocate
I am not anti-fashion by any means, I am simply an advocate of slow fashion. The most sustainable option would of course be to stop buying clothing items altogether, but to most that is simply unattainable, especially for someone who loves fashion and gains great satisfaction from it. Instead, I am a mindful shopper, meaning I only buy an item of clothing after asking myself a few questions such as ‘how many wears will I get out of this?’, ‘what has it been made from?’, ‘where has this item been made?’, and ‘how has it been made?’. I also prefer to buy one high quality item such as a sustainably made jumper, over multiple high street items such as £5 T-Shirts. There’s a reason they have that tempting price mark. It’s definitely quality over quantity when it comes to fashion for me.
Progress not perfection
I’m no saint, and I’m definitely not 100% sustainable or zero waste, but I am aware of the need to take responsibility for my impact on the planet and I try to make the best decisions I can to aide that. Wherever possible I will opt for the sustainable and ethical options, but of course sometimes it really isn’t possible as there are areas in certain industries (such as the beauty industry) that simply do not have the facilities/capabilities yet. I am really enjoying going to bulk food stores around London to pick up my food supplies such as grains, nuts, pasta and even chocolate. I use my glass jars and tupperware at these stores to prevent plastic wastage that you see so often at supermarkets in the UK, and I actually really love how it takes you back to basics. One of my favourites is Source Bulk Foods in Turnham Green.
What we put onto our bodies is just as important as what we put into it. I try to eat a healthy and balanced diet, and I realised that putting artificial beauty products on my skin that are full of chemicals was a huge contradiction and it didn’t align with my ethos on health. Much like my journey with sustainability, I decided to become more mindful of the products I was using. I now use mainly natural beauty products, but these things do take time, and I do still have a way to go with cutting out some of my old favourites! I am yet to find a brand I love whole heartedly and have complete confidence in the ethics and ethos of the brand’s credentials and values. As a child I used to make potions out of the rose petals from my garden, I am constantly working to shed light or bring to market products that are as simply made as those that I whipped up as a child. My followers are a huge source of inspiration for me and I would love to answer their calls for a natural beauty product without compromising the planet.
(READ MORE: ETHICAL BEAUTY – WHERE TO START)
I have been eating a plant-based diet for five years now, and buy my fresh produce from local farmer’s markets or food stalls. I would love to grow my own fruit and vegetables but unfortunately my humble abode in London isn’t quite appropriate, but I do dream of one day growing my own strawberries, cabbages, tomatoes, onions and much more in my future garden! For now, buying locally is the next most sustainable way to shop and I also try to only buy seasonal foods. Cutting out animal products, or even reducing them, is also a hugely sustainable step to make. These may all seem like quite drastic changes, but making small adjustments to your lifestyle such as buying locally and shopping in bulk food stores all contribute to helping to reduce the impacts of climate change.
Read more about the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet.
Want to know more about how to start dressing ethically? See our guide here.
If you’re interested in beauty, see our guide on how to clean-up your beauty routine.
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