Posted on February 04 2019
“every time you spend money you’re casting a vote for the kind of
world you want”.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be the Plastic Free Babe; The sustainable girl living a plastic free world?!
I was born in Bermuda but spent a lot of my time growing up in New York City. Even though I lived in a city, my family valued being near the ocean so we travelled to the beach every weekend. Having this opportunity to experience the ocean in Bermuda and New York through all kinds of weather and seasons gave me an appreciation for the outdoors.
Since playing outside was such a big part of how I spent my time as a child, it became something that I valued above most things in my life. My dream as a child was to grow up and be an ‘explorer’, as I got older I realized that there wouldn’t be anything left to explore if we didn’t protect our Earth. I went to University to study Environmental Science and Art; since graduating I’ve combined my love of the two into creating content on social media to hopefully inspire other people to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. I decided I wasn’t done learning about the environment and how we can protect it so I’m currently getting my Masters in Environmental Management at University of Queensland.
You’re a great example of the fact that living a plastic-free life can be done. Can you tell us where you began this journey and some of the major obstacles you’ve come across and ones you might still be trying to overcome with the plastic monster!
When I was studying Environmental Studies, plastic was still a fairly new topic and wasn’t discussed too much in my classes. It wasn’t until I graduated that the topic began coming up more and more. I worked as an educator at an ocean-focused museum so I did a lot of my own research into the plastic problem to be able to better inform my students. As I learned more I tried to reduce my plastic usage in my life.
I started my journey to becoming a ‘plastic free babe’ by first eliminating single-use plastics. The big three single-use plastic items that are causing a lot of damage to our oceans are bottles, bags, and straws. I started with these and got myself a couple reusable water bottles so I wouldn’t ever have to buy a disposable plastic bottle, I got a couple metal and glass straws that I could take to restaurants with me and started asking for my drinks with ‘no straw’ so I could use my own, and I brought my own bags to shops and grocery stores. Once eliminating these three single-use plastics from my life became a routine, I focused my attention on other ways I could eliminate plastic from my life.
Last year I decided to focus on my clothing and realising its potential to be a source of plastic and waste that I could contribute to the environment. I want to make a positive impact on the environment through the choices I make about what to put on my body. I decided that when I buy clothes I would buy vintage/used and if I buy new that I would only buy clothes from natural materials (ie. Cotton and linen and no polyester). My commitment to buying environmentally friendly clothing extends to my choice of swimwear as well. I spend most of my time at the beach and practically live in bikinis so supporting environmentally conscious swimwear brands is really important to me! I love that Shapes in the Sand Swimwear is an environmentally conscious brand and that the cute swimsuits are made from discarded ghost nets!
A challenge that I’ve faced has definitely been shopping. It can be hard to go shopping with friends and they’re buying inexpensive cute clothes made from polyester. I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s about quality over quantity and over the past couple of years I’ve found really cute sustainable clothing and swimwear brands that are fashionable and good for the environment!
I imagine your kitchen to be full of reusables. Give us an insight into what’s inside your kitchen!
Yes the kitchen is a great place to have reusables! Here are some of the way I cut down on plastic in my kitchen:
- ‘un paper towels’ by Marleys Monsters. They’re paper towels that you can use and then put in the laundry and keep reusing! Mine have all these cute patterns like sharks and flowers but really any old t-shirts or fabric would do the trick.
- Reusable sponge. Same brand as above but I’m sure there are others! I love this because a lot of sponges not only come in plastic packaging but are also made from plastic! The reusable ones are great because they can also just be thrown in with your next load of laundry and be reused countless times.
- Glass jars!!! My cupboards are filled with oh-so-many jars! Sometimes I find cute ones when I’m out shopping but a lot of my jars are reused sauce jars. I keep them because they’re great for storing leftovers and loose-leaf tea - I’m a big tea drinker! I buy loose-leaf tea and bring my own jar to the shop for them to fill. Loose leaf tea is sold by weight so it’s just as easy (if not easier) for them to just measure it into my own container.
- Loose vegetables. I always buy my veggies loose and not in the plastic bags. I just throw them right in the cart because I wash them anyway when I get home but if that grosses you out, there are reusable produce bags that you can buy.
- Wooden utensils. Most utensils I get are wood or second-hand. Some people may not like the idea of ‘second-hand’ kitchen supplies but a lot of mine such as cutting boards have been passed down from relatives and it feels good to give it a second life.
There’s so many more ways to green up your kitchen but I think those are some easy switches that can get any beginner started on their own plastic-free journey.
What are your 5 festival tips for reducing plastic usage and being all round conscious of your footprint?
I love festivals and concerts but know all too well that they can be a place where staying environmentally friendly can be hard! Being sustainable doesn’t mean you have to give up on the fun so these would be my 5 tips for reducing plastic and reducing your footprint during festival season:
- Bring your own reusable water bottle! I know some places are strict about bringing your own drinks but even most of the stricter venues will let you bring your own bottle if it’s empty. If you have your own bottle you can refill it with water and cut down on plastic water bottles. There’s sooo many reusable bottles now in all shapes and sizes (from flat ones to collapsible ones) that there’s a water bottle to fit every festival outfit!
Shop vintage. For a lot of girls (and guys), finding cool and unique outfits to wear is a big part of going to a festival. Buying a new outfit specifically for the day and never wearing it again is wasteful for your wallet and bad for the environment. The clothing industry and the waste fast fashion causes actually contributes a lot to environmental degradation. You’ll probably find items that are even more special and unique if you shop vintage!
- Eco-glitter!! I love to cover myself in glitter when I go to a festival. Traditional glitter is made from tiny bits of plastic so obviously when this gets into the environment it’s really bad! My favorite glitter brand is ‘A Beautiful Weirdo’! The glitter is made from plant-derived materials and naturally biodegrades once it’s in the environment. Eco glitter is just as shiny as sparkly glitter and feels a lot better on your skin too!
- Car pool! Most everyone knows that a big contributor to our own carbon footprint is fossil fuels! You can reduce your fossil fuel footprint by finding other people to share a ride with. If you don’t know that many people going, you can try posting in the event’s Facebook page to find people to share a ride with and meet new people (stay safe though!).
- Bring your own cooking gear. If it’s an overnight festival, bringing your own food, utensils, and cooking gear can cut down on a lot of waste. It’ll be better for your wallet and the environment and you can spend more time and energy enjoying the music!
A phrase that means something to you?!
There’s two that I’ve seen floating around on social media lately that I’ve really resonated with. The first is, “every time you spend money you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want”. I think this is so important because as a consumer, you hold the power to dictate what sorts or items are being made and put onto the market. I don’t believe that being sustainable has to mean giving up shopping but I do think that people hold a lot of power in what they shop for by shopping for eco-friendly brands. The more we as consumers make it know that eco-friendly products are what we want, the more the market will turn in that direction. Another quote I’ve seen recently and think holds a really important message is this one: “sustainability should not be about sacrificing but about making small positive changes and thinking a little differently. It’s about making the best decisions you possibly can with the things, places, and people you have access to and the tools you already have.” I think people can get really intimidated by adapting an eco-friendly lifestyle. I’m a firm believer that something is better than nothing and that people should adopt a sustainable lifestyle in steps that feels right to them.