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The Sustainable Edit

Sustainable Living: 10 Women Share Their Top Tips

Expensive. Confusing. Difficult. These three words are often thrown around when people are asked about the challenges of being more eco-friendly. Though there’s been a seismic shift in consumer sentiment, with many actively trying to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, the landscape is littered with companies who make fake claims that prevent many from making that first, conscious step.

Whether you’re thinking about your next trip away, giving your wardrobe a refresh, sorting through a recent skincare haul, or even planning this week’s food shop, these insights from ten inspiring eco-warriors will help steer your sustainability efforts.

Lindsey Ueberroth, CEO Of Preferred Hotel Group

“When it comes to travel, sustainability is not about having to give something up, rather, it is about gaining something more,” explains Lindsey Ueberroth, CEO of Preferred Hotel Group. She goes on to share how whilst many businesses put on the brakes during the pandemic, Preferred Hotel Group went in the opposite direction and launched Beyond Green, a new hospitality brand that now has 30 carefully vetted hotels across five continents which were chosen for their focus on sustainable tourism. “Before a hotel can even apply to become a member of Beyond Green’s unique portfolio of sustainable luxury hotels, resorts, and lodges around the world, they must have already eliminated plastic water bottles on their property,” she says. Members include Ashford Castle in Ireland, Xigera Safari Lodge in Botswana, and Turtle Inn in Belize. The group has also supported causes that are near and dear to their heart and have collaborated with MasterCard and Conservation International on a climate action partnership to support reforestation and protect endangered forests.

How can we be more sustainable this year?

There are many things each of us can do. Starting right at home, it’s as simple as bringing reusable bags to the grocery store to avoid single-use plastic bags from ending up in our oceans and landfills where they pollute ecosystems and harm wildlife. When it comes to travel, each of our choices makes a big difference; when we choose tour operators and hotels that are committed to sustainability leadership, we are sending a clear message that we want to support those businesses that also care about the future of our planet. When visiting other countries, choose to purchase items from local artisans and family owned businesses to ensure your money supports the local economy. And, of course, never buy wildlife products as souvenirs – just say no to skins, shells, ivory, and any other items made from wild animals.

What do you think the future of sustainability looks like?

Sustainability is here to stay and while I cannot predict what the future of sustainability will look like, as the CEO of Preferred Hotel Group, I certainly know what I want and hope for in terms of what the future of travel will look like: To me, that future is when sustainability is the rule and not the exception across the entire global travel industry. In that sense, I remain optimistic as I witness a new generation of travellers for whom sustainability is not an option to consider, but rather, it is becoming part of daily life and influencing all that we do.

Jessica Warch, Co-Founder Of Kimai

Growing up in Antwerp to a family of diamond traders meant Jessica Warch was exposed to both the glitz and also the not-so-glamorous parts of the diamond industry. After meeting a local jeweller during a trip home, she came across the concept of lab-grown diamonds and saw an opportunity. “Kimai was founded to solve the problem of opaque and unethical supply chains in the fine-jewellery industry,” she shares. “We use 100% traceable lab-grown diamonds to avoid destruction to our planet, child labour, and other complex issues associated with mining. Sustainable sourcing is, and always will be, at the heart of our business, and it’s up to us to make the fine-jewellery industry more modern, accessible, and inclusive at the same time.” One of the challenges often raised about living a sustainable lifestyle is that it costs significantly more to do so. Whilst Warch agrees that this may be the case at times, when it comes to lab-grown diamonds, they are actually 50% cheaper on average than mined diamonds whilst offering the same clarity, cut, and quality without harming the planet.

How can we be more sustainable this year?

I always think it’s best to start with a few small changes and take it step-by-step; there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to sustainability.

What do you think the future of sustainability looks like?

Embracing technology for sustainable solutions – whether that’s through lab-grown diamonds, QR codes to check supply chains, or even using Zoom when we can for international business rather than traveling so much. In addition, we need to make sustainability desirable, accessible, and inclusive in order to make a wider societal change to our purchasing habits, which is what we are trying to do at Kimai. I think sustainability is the new luxury – wearing beautiful pieces with pride, knowing they haven’t harmed people or the planet.

Photo credit Sarah Malcolm

Melissa Hemsley, Chef, Cookbook Author, And Founder Of The Sustainability Sessions

Melissa Hemsley credits her late British Army dad and her thrifty Filipino mother for teaching her to be resourceful from an early age. Hemsley is one of the UK’s most influential women in food and a best-selling cookbook author to boot. Her most recent book, Eat Green, puts seasonal ingredients at the forefront and shares recipes using food that is often thrown away. Hemsley says the pursuit of perfection often stops people from becoming more sustainable and she challenges this by explaining that it is progress rather than perfection that we should be striving for. “We can’t be eco-perfect or sustainable experts in every single area of our lives, so let’s all keep sharing tips, positive upgrades, reusing, resharing so we can all learn together and the movement can swell,” she explains. Hemsley puts all of this into action herself with recipe videos, tips on social media, newsletters, and The Sustainability Sessions, a series of sold-out live events that brings together inspiring individuals from across different industries. She also encourages people to demand more of bigger brand and says: “Let’s use our spending power as a vote, to vote for change and for the world we want for ourselves and the next generation.”

What do you think the future of sustainability looks like?

Hopeful – in that it seems bigger brands are more on board and hopefully it all becomes much more affordable and accessible. I was just reading that, finally, those little condiment plastic sachets will be banned soon in the UK. And in terms of plastic water bottles, get the Refill app, which tells you where your local water refill station is so you can fill your flask anywhere.

How can we be more sustainable this year?

In the kitchen: Look in your bin and see what you threw out this week. Challenge yourself to do better next week by ordering less or seeing if you could have saved anything. Could you have frozen milk or cheese? Roasted that leftover broccoli? Look in your fridge and see what’s past its best. Challenge yourself to make a fridge raid frittata or some veg fritters, or even simpler, make a delicious soup – freeze it if you can’t get through it all or share with a friend, colleague, neighbour. Make a ‘clear your fridge curry’ – I have a recipe in Eat Green – it’s easy, saves money, saves waste, tastes delicious!

In the bathroom: See what products you could buy in bulk and refill – so many brands offer this. As well as good old-fashioned soap, look out for shampoo bars and refill your conditioner bottle instead of buying a new one. If you love mouthwash, look out for chewable mouthwash tablets. There are so many genius, effective products and more are coming.

For local shops, I love Stone Mini Market – it’s a refill shop and more. If you’re on the move, the Top Up truck is a great monthly commitment to make. There’s also Fairwell and People’s Pantry covering north and west London and down in Cornwall, is there a better name for a refill business than… GOODFILLAS.

I also love following Instagram accounts and newsletters from Treading my Own Path, Pebble Magazine, My Plastic-Free Home, Live Frankly and beauty websites showcasing greener alternatives like Content Beauty and my incredible friends who run Conscious Beauty Union, who inspire me greatly in my make-up bag and bathroom!

Eve Kekeh, Founder Of Bundlee

The practice of renting clothes has come leaps and bounds over the past few years, though it’s only recently that this option has been available for some of the most fickle of fashionistas. Enter Eve Kekeh and her company Bundlee, a clothing rental service for babies. “Renting is a simple and circular solution that can help increase the longevity of baby clothing and reduce the amount sent to overflowing landfills. For each Bundlee rented, parents can reduce their CO2 emissions by 86% and save 96% of the water compared to buying. As well as stocking the most popular – and cutest – kidswear brands on Bundlee, I also make sure we are partnering with like-minded sustainable brands as it’s very important to me and to our customers,” she says. Kekeh is clear that becoming more sustainable doesn’t mean compromising on style and convenience. Bundlee customers get access to top global brands such as Patagonia, Little Riley Studio, and Mini Rodini – whilst saving up to 75% off the recommended retail price – all delivered to their doorstep.

What do you think the future of sustainability looks like?

Rental becoming the norm. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen the rise of rental and shared ownership with our clothing, jewellery, kidswear, and even when it comes to hiring cars and booking a holiday home such as with Hiyacar and Airbnb. I think we will see rental becoming much more mainstream this year and beyond, as customer demand increases and businesses embrace opportunities in this exciting new space.

How can we be more sustainable this year?

Cassandra Dittmer, Sustainable Stylist And Co-Founder Of CD Studio

Wondering how you can be both sustainable and stylish? Just ask Cassandra Dittmer. As a stylist to the stars, Dittmer spent over 10 years dressing her clients for the red carpet and it was then that she got a front-row seat to the negative impact that fashion had on people and the planet. She also realised that the rise in greenwashing – when companies use marketing and PR tactics to make them seem more eco-friendly than they actually are – made it complicated and confusing for those wanting to shop more consciously. “I decided to turn my attention to helping as many people as possible shop more sustainably. I launched an affordable, online styling service designed to help navigate the complex world of sustainable fashion – open to all, and available to access from the comfort of your home,” she explains. Dittmer has a loyal following on Instagram where she uses her platform to shine a spotlight on fashion companies that are going the extra mile and she provides regular insights to help her followers along their journey to shopping sustainably. The Co-Founder of new sustainable brand CD Studio shares: “I love being able to share my network of incredible sustainable brands and under-the-radar independent makers with my customers and community, and share styling tips to help you look and feel great and make your wardrobe go further.”

What do you think the future of sustainability looks like?

Resale. I’ve always loved shopping second-hand – being able to find a unique piece with a story is always special. Companies like Vestiaire Collective, The RealReal, and Thred Up make shopping second-hand digitally super fun and easy and offer a great way for us all to make money from our own wardrobes. Shopping second-hand is also such a great way to help increase the longevity of clothing already in circulation.

How can we be more sustainable this year?

Florence Kagiso, Tour Guide At Desert & Delta Safaris

As the winner of National Geographic’s ‘The Innovator’ award, Florence Kagiso is a driving force, not just in her native Botswana, but across the whole of Africa. Together with an all-women guiding team, she actively promotes sustainable practices whilst introducing visitors to wildlife and natural areas that make up the land they call home. Kagiso, who is part of the management team at Desert & Delta Safaris’ five-star Chobe Game Lodge, explains: Community involvement is the key to sustainability and if we, as a tourism industry, don’t embrace conservation to protect the flora and fauna, we don’t have a product to show our guests. It is crucial we embrace it for the survival of the environment and the local communities.” She talks about how it’s common for people to pass the responsibility of being sustainable over to local authorities instead of taking ownership themselves. “We can all make a difference,” she says. “We can’t expect governments and service providers to make changes unless they see we are expecting it to happen. We must all be more demanding about seeing positive environmental change.”

What do you think the future of sustainability is going to look like?

More local grassroots involvement. We have found that sustainability is often lost in translation and people often seem confused as to what conservation actually means. I feel that we all need to do more ‘in our own backyard’ because sometimes we feel as though we are not able to have a positive impact on our environment – but we can! For me, the future is all of us doing our bit to embrace sustainability at home in our daily lives, whether it is something small like managing our own rubbish or gathering rainwater, or something more technologically advanced like generating our own electricity, it all counts!

How can we be more sustainable this year?

Embrace something new. Here in Botswana, we have a very limited recycling infrastructure due to our low population, so too much waste ends up in a landfill, which is problematic for the local bird population. If we endeavour to start recycling, even one item (like plastic bottles or tins), then we can learn so much more about recycling, about where to take recyclable items and how to recycle them. If we all do this and persuade our family and friends to do the same, then the infrastructure will improve as the demand rises. I’ve learnt so much from Chobe Game Lodge, where I work, where every aspect of waste is carefully managed from glass bottles being recycled into bricks, to the boats we operate being entirely electric solar-powered. It has helped create so much positive change in the community and the environment.

Nicola Paris, Director At The Xara Palace, Relais & Châteaux

With her role as Director at The Xara Palace, a Relais & Châteaux property, Nicola Paris is very aware of the negative impact that the hospitality industry has had on the environment. “We’re trying to turn that around in our business,” she says. She’s passionate about the projects they have launched to combat this, including creating experiences for guests to get involved in the hotel’s regenerative farming practices and highlighting a farm-to-fork concept in their restaurants. “Furthermore, our kitchen food waste will be processed as a main resource to power our elaborate, on-site aquaponics food-growing system. This prevents our food waste from ending up in the landfill and thus reducing the methane being released into the atmosphere,” she shares. Paris is adamant that luxury and sustainability are not mutually exclusive, and that leading a more sustainable lifestyle is much easier than we may think.“The misconception is that leading a more sustainable life means doing away with luxuries, which isn’t the case – it’s all about being more mindful about your purchases and indulgences and asking ‘is there a way I can do this in an environmentally responsible way?’”

What do you think the future of sustainability looks like?  

I believe that the future is and must be sustainable – it is the only way that we can continue to protect our planet for future generations to come. In addition, those businesses that manage to succeed in developing sustainable practices will become more resilient in the future and will be viewed as more attractive by new recruits, investors, and ultimately the consumers, which will affect their bottom line and help them to feel better about their experience.  We will continue to become more responsible, and decisions will be taken with sustainability in mind.

How can we be more sustainable this year?  

My suggestion would be to choose three ways in which we can live more sustainable lives and integrate them in our everyday lives and businesses. I strongly believe that education and being aware of how we are affecting the planet through our lifestyles is the main starting point to shake up our behaviours and prompt better decisions. Challenging the way we think and questioning how certain things are done could also help us break unsustainable cycles. In addition, I am a believer that more can be achieved when we act collectively as a team – involving ourselves within a community and sharing greener ideas and practices could ultimately result in the empowerment of all the individuals within the community as a whole, where everyone prospers and moves forward.

Anna Brightman, Co-Founder At UpCircle

“We’re doing things differently and are known as the pioneers of ‘by-product beauty’ or ‘circular skincare’. Nature gives us lots of wonderful ingredients that make our skin healthier and more radiant – like used coffee grounds, fruit stones, and brewed chai spices – but they often end up going to a landfill,” explains Anna Brightman, Co-Founder of sustainable skincare company, UpCircle. High costs and lower quality are two of the common push-backs Brightman hears when challenged on the ease of maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. “We’re demonstrating that a skincare brand can be sustainable and scalable whilst maintaining an ethical and positive impact on the planet,” she says. And with UpCircle products having over 18,000 five-star reviews, the proof is in the pudding – and all at an accessible price point, which was important to Brightman and her Co-Founder (and brother) Will who launched the company in their early twenties. “Ethical, sustainable, and Fairtrade ingredients cost more, but we’re committed to being a brand accessible for all – that’s why we’ve secured listings with the likes of Sainsbury’s, Holland & Barrett, Boots, as well as US giant Whole Foods.”

What do you think the future of sustainability looks like?

We think the future of sustainable beauty is circular, of course! We launched five products last year, and this year we’re doing an ocean-friendly SPF, hand cream, lip balm, and a bath range. The repurposed ingredients for those include raspberry-seed extract and discarded flower petals from florists and wedding venues. The beauty industry is still a major contributor to the serious issue that we have created on our planet with regards to plastic – billions of units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry, bulked out by the use of complex lids, multi-layered boxes, and cellophane, much of which is superfluous, non-recyclable, and ends up in our landfills and oceans. We need to make big changes in this industry to combat this and there is a lot of work to be done. I’d recommend products that are 100% home-recyclable or home-compostable. If the packaging can’t be refilled, the next best option is to recycle or compost from home, meaning no additional transport is required for the product to reach a recycling station.,

How can we be more sustainable this year?

If you’re just starting out in trying to create a more sustainable beauty routine then just keep in mind that it will be a gradual process. Resist the urge to empty your cupboards and start all over again at once. There is no point in creating waste in an attempt to try to minimise waste! Use up what you have, and then next time, think about what improvements you can make in each of your purchasing decisions, or even better, think about whether you actually need to buy each thing you’ve previously owned at all! I get asked about my skin and makeup routine all the time and people are often shocked by how limited and simple it is. Quality over quantity is what sustainability is all about.

Angelika Davenport, Founder Of TINCTURE

Angelika Davenport is on a mission to debunk the myths around sustainability – mainly that it’s boring, costly, and inconvenient. Her company TINCTURE produces high-quality, non-toxic cleaning and wellbeing products that are 100% natural and all made in the UK. “Sustainability runs like a golden thread through the core of the business and it is at the centre of everything we do and every decision we make. We carefully source our ingredients from suppliers who share our values and personally prefer to work with smaller producers who focus on regenerative farming processes and who sometimes can’t afford organic certification but who are producing in a very responsible way,” she explains. Every step of the supply chain has to pass through an impressive inspection process to ensure they are raising the bar when it comes to further reducing TINCTURE’s carbon footprint. They’ve also recently teamed up with Sugi to build biodiversity in urban environments and have announced the launch of a personalised subscription model, which will include their new TINCTURE CONCENTRATE range and help customers easily purchase only what they need and reduce waste.

What do you think the future of sustainability looks like?

I think, fundamentally, collective consumer habits need to change to understand that “less is more” – there is such a huge waste problem that comes from our culture of over-consumerism. Collectively, we need to commit to being mindful about how much food we buy, how much water we run, where we buy our clothes, do we need new clothes or can we rent or buy vintage pieces? For me, the future of sustainability has to have a focus on reducing waste, something we are deeply committed to as a business. I believe that corporate mentality also has a responsibility to make sustainability an easy choice for customers. For example, packaging should be designed in a way that makes it extremely easy for customers to recycle and/or re-use. It’s the simple things that are easy to do that collectively will have the most impact. For example, if everyone changed their washing up liquid to a non-toxic, 100% natural, and preferably ocean-safe formula (like ours), the impact on our waterways and oceans would be significant. It is extremely concerning when you read the label on the back of household washing liquids that they clearly state “long-term damage to aquatic life” but we aren’t connecting what we pour down our sinks with the impact on the environment.

How can we be more sustainable this year?

Start small – pick some bad habits to drop and good habits to take up. Can you buy local, seasonal produce that hasn’t flown miles to get to you? Can you rent instead of buying new clothes or handbags? Can you walk, cycle, or take an electric bike or e-scooter instead of using the car? Can you do that meeting over Zoom instead of flying or travelling to it?  One of the most powerful things I did recently during COP26 in Glasgow was to educate myself on the top companies who are responsible for over 70% of global carbon emissions and I have personally chosen to take a stand against them by actively supporting charities and organisations such as Client Earth who are trying to make them accountable for their actions!

Natalie Glaze, Founder Of By Glaze And Co-Founder Of Stay Wild

“I think people often feel overwhelmed by the idea of sustainability and think they need to be doing everything and living the perfect zero-waste lifestyle, when in fact that is unattainable for many people and they give up at the first hurdle. As the quote by Anne Marie Bonneau states: ‘We don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly,’” shares Natalie Glaze, Founder of sustainable jewellery brand, By Glaze and Co-Founder of slow fashion swimwear company Stay Wild. Glaze says ensuring the companies she was building were sustainable was an absolute must and feels strongly that any new business should consider from the get-go the footprint they are leaving behind. “I wanted to showcase with both brands that you can create beautiful, timeless pieces that have sustainability at the core,” she says. “From the big to the small, from materials, to manufacturing, packaging, creating high quality things that last, and producing less waste, we focus on sustainability at every level as that’s something I, my Co-Founder Zanna, and both brands believe in.”

What do you think the future of sustainability looks like? 

I think sustainability is only getting more important, is getting talked about more, and is becoming more mainstream, which is a good thing. It’s amazing that more and more conversations are happening around climate change and sustainability as it’s so important that we make conscious decisions and work collectively at this crucial stage in the fight against climate change. Within the fashion industry, there’s been a collective slowing down of production, especially for huge brands – there are fewer pieces heading to landfills, less waste, more conscious production, more focus on better materials and better quality pieces, and an overall push towards a more circular economy.

How can we be more sustainable this year? 

For all startups and new businesses looking to be more sustainable, I would recommend factoring in sustainability from day one of building your brand if possible – it is much easier to build a business sustainably from the bottom-up than having to go in from the top-down and try to change existing systems you have in place. That way you can consider everything from your fabrics, materials, suppliers, and sourcing all the way through to shipping and distribution. That being said, if you already have an established brand, then a great place to start is packaging. See if you can reduce virgin materials, switch to reusable, recyclable, or compostable options, and look at offsetting your shipping.

 

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