Asquith Adores Blogger Awards Nominee:  Sustainability In Style

Category: Sustainability

Website: sustainabilityinstyle.com

 

What was the inspiration behind starting your blog, and has your direction changed since you began blogging?

Sustainability in Style began as a way to document my yearlong ‘Wardrobe Workout’ shopping hiatus. As an avid thrifter and someone who had previously studied and worked in the fashion industry, it was a shock to my closet to be kicked out of my science research work (due to government funding cuts) and back into four retail jobs over twelve months. I was required to ‘dress in uniform’ (retailer code for buy new clothes weekly) and each store had a totally different aesthetic. So by years end I had spent nearly half my annual income on clothing that wasn’t very ‘me’ and my closet was overflowing.

I decided on the name Sustainability in Style to blog about my Wardrobe Workout as it had served me well as a title for the clothing swap events I had been hosting in previous years at my Uni. The blog was a way to make sure I stuck to my challenge and to serve as a reference for personal learning. For some reason people started to chat to me (mostly via Instagram) as I wrote about my journey and the most fabulous discussion about sustainability ensued.

Yes, my direction has totally changed over the years. The blog was originally a hobby style ‘diary’ about my attempts to find my style in my overflowing closet. Once the year challenge was up I changed to focus on zero waste living (and collected and weighed all my rubbish for a month), and continued on to talk all things sustainability. Sustainability in Style still gets shared as a sustainable fashion blog, but for most part I don’t focus all that much on fashion news, choosing to use the space to prompt people to reflect more and develop their critical thinking prowess.

 

How long have you been consciously living a more sustainable life, and what prompted you to make changes to the way you were living before?

Funnily enough my parents are the true gurus of sustainable living. My sister and I grew up with kombi van driving hippie parents who had their own small farm and grew nearly all their own meat and veggies. It was a magical way to live as a kid but sadly it resulted in a lot of bullying (not quite as much bullying as the boy whose Dad drove him to school in a garbage truck). When I moved out of home to study fashion I moved away from the country life to the city. Share housing and nights out, followed by stints of work and travel were fun. But working one day in my job as a retail buyer for a small department store I realised how far removed the fast-paced-and-all-consuming world of fashion was (the fast fashion model was just on it’s way in when I was in the thick of the industry) from what I truly valued, and I decided to move interstate to study sustainable tourism. A few months in I found out they shut down my course, so I switched to study science with a sustainability major. Fast forward to now and I’m an accidental plant science researcher currently seeking a supervisor to finish my sustainability masters research because- yet again- sustainability got shut down on me!!!!

Despite all the trials and tribulations of sustainability being kind of unsustainable I still have the fire in my belly to make it a career. My partner Ged recently pointed out that I somehow managed to find the most ‘anti establishment’ career path possible. And I look to my parents and think ‘the apple really didn’t fall far from that anti-establishment self sufficient organic orchard tree did it’?

 

If you could wave a magic wand and persuade everyone in the world to change one thing about their lifestyle right now, what would it be?

Damn! That magic wand sounds amazing. It’s hard to pick just one (especially because I’m such a believer in the power of love and compassion but that just makes me sound like a Miss Universe contestant) but I would love people to all get off their buts and go study economics. If there were a do-over in my life I would go become an economist, because that great big system is the one thing that really had buggered up people and planet.

The coolest thing about the economic system is that WE MADE IT UP. We didn’t make the Earth, we kind of make people but mostly have no idea how they work (the fact there is no cure for a common cold is a good example of how little we know), but we totally invented the economic system. Somehow- somewhere- along the line we seem to have forgotten the fact that money and the economy is just a great big thing we invented because barter was a little challenging. The economic system and our post industrial revolution drive to be all consuming is all just some idea we had and it’s proving to be a disaster to our finite resources and is encouraging exponential population growth, a climate of fear, scarcity thinking, climate change, and inequality (to name a few).

An understanding of economics is essential to feeling empowered. We can change the World right now! Economies crash and can rebuild over night. Coral reefs, rainforests, and our environmental flows don’t have this capacity. It’s empowering and puts a fire in your belly to know that economic reform can be a very rapid way to put an end to a lot of the problems we face as a species.

 

What are your top tips for someone wanting to live more ethically and sustainably?

My top tips aren’t the typical ones. I apologize in advance for anyone who was hoping for a simple ‘bring your own shopping bag’. I’ve spent loads of time in my academic career looking at sustainability and behavioral changes and these are some ideas that have stuck:

Remember to be kind. Without it we are humans not humankind, and humans can be pretty awful to one another and the planet. Put the kindness back into our species by practicing kindness towards self, planet, and people.
Just keep swimming. Dory the fish (from Finding Nemo) has the best advice for us all to live by. Being sustainable and ethically minded isn’t always easy. I can personally vouch for this having had my sustainability studies fall flat on their face twice over. Sometimes it can feel like it’s all just too hard or that the problems are too big. When you feel like this check in with some self-care and promise to keep that little spark of compassion alive. Even if the only thing you can muster on a ‘Meh’ day is to pick up one bit of litter on the street, the world is still a better place for your action and if everyone did the same thing we would have more than seven and a half billion bits of litter off the street.
Start with your heart. It can be pretty daunting to navigate the landscape of sustainability and ethics so much so that sometimes it’s hard to work out where to start. Just start and start with your heart. Search deep inside and find one thing you really care about. It might be a human centric, animal ethics, or eco issue. Whatever it is just focus on that. As soon as you start that ball rolling other eco and ethical actions will follow.
Celebrate your successes. You know what? There is a good chance no one will know or care about your eco or ethical efforts. This lack of recognition for caring about the environment and society is one of the reasons why many of us don’t bother carrying out these actions. Don’t fret, this doesn’t make us bad people, we are products of a society and schooling system that produces rewards, or other forms of gratification for our efforts. If you need this (and don’t worry if you do) try sharing your eco efforts online. Or alternatively you can keep a success diary and write down all the good things you have done throughout the day. When you get a case of the ‘Meh’s’ you can use this as a personalised pat-on-the-back and motivator.
Know yourself. Our World is forever equipping us with services to help us save time and endless ways to ‘escape’ reality and entertain ourselves. The results? We have more free time than ever before but load it with distractions that make us feel rushed, fearful, envious etc. Few of us take time out to face our real selves. Get to the core of who we are and what we care about. Doing this might just be the hardest thing you will ever do but it really helps you to help others. It can be really hard to serve others from a place of selflessness if you are trying to find yourself in your actions. Some of the best tools for this sort of discovery are mediation, mindfulness, and yoga.

 

Which bloggers are you rooting for in the other Asquith Adores Blogger Awards categories?

Oh my!!! This is such a tough question. There are so many great bloggers nominated. I’ve always loved Style Me Sustainable, been getting serious wanderlust from Wood & Luxe (Phoebe Greenacre), drooling at the Vegan options on Wholeheartedly Healthy, reading up at Ana Goes Green, and getting a case of FOMO looking at travel pics at Flirting with the Globe.

 

Tell us one thing that our blog readers may not know about you…

I’m an employment philanderer. I’ve had more jobs than I can remember! To date, I’ve had three distinct ‘careers’ (fashion, researcher plant science/sustainability, and writing/blogging) but have worked in everything with one of the most unlikely being hardware and rural supplies. Jill of all trades and master of none (yet)!

 

We regularly feature inspiring women on our blog in our ‘Wow Women’ series, who is your most inspiring ‘Wow Woman’ and why?

There are so many inspiring women in this series but I couldn’t go past Alice Asquith, founder of Asquith! Her commitment to ethics and sustainability is admirable and it’s very relatable to read about someone who made a giant career leap and learnt from mistakes.

 

What was the last book you read?

I read ten or more books at a time (leaving them all over the house much to my hubbys annoyance). The last one I finished was Freedom Regained Freedom Regained: The Possibility of Free Will review – Julian Baggini. Such a mind-blowing read!

 

What is your favourite uplifting quote of all time?

A quote to uplift the lofty environmentalist, social advocate or entrepreneur that feels like they have bitten off more than they can chew:

‘If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.’ – Henry David Thoreau

And a bonus reminder for people suffering from compassion fatigue:

‘Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.’ – Rumi.

 

And finally, is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

Yes! I would love for readers to get involved in the #garmentgratitude movement. It’s designed to help us get thinking more mindfully about the clothing we own, love and wear. All you have to do is take a photo of something you are wearing, say thanks to the people or planet for its existence, and then pledge one eco act. Share this on Instagram tagging @garmentgratitude with the tag #garmentgratitude.

 

Click here to enter your vote for Kate in the Sustainable category of the Asquith Adores Blogger Awards. 

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