What it actually means to buy sustainable products
Sustainable living has become a popular topic of conversation since the deteriorating health of our environment has repeatedly made headlines. Although it may seem overwhelming, making small changes to your lifestyle to reduce your carbon footprint can make a huge impact.
We reached out to esteemed Australian model Elyse Knowles to ask her about how she lives a sustainable lifestyle, and how you can too. Not just a pretty face, Elyse is passionate about living her life in the most eco-friendly way possible. As ambassador for a number of high profile clients such as Myer and the face of Aveda, she uses her social media platforms to help educate and inspire others to become more conscious of the impact their actions can have.
Why do you think it’s important to raise awareness around sustainability?
Lately I’ve become quite aware of how much “greenwashing” exists across many industries, including health and wellness, beauty and fashion. We now see words such as natural, eco-friendly, organic, sustainable, recyclable, and biodegradable everywhere we look. While these are all fantastic words, we need to ask ourselves: How much do we truly understand their meaning? If we are buying a good that claims to be sustainable, in the context of that good, what does sustainable really mean? Knowledge is everything! We can all throw these words around as much as we like, but I feel as though raising awareness around what it really means to be sustainable is critical.
If a brand says they use sustainable production methods or their packaging is biodegradable, we need to have the knowledge base to verify these are honest claims. If not, we are buying the wrong things and contributing to the worldwide issues of landfill, ocean waste and so on. It’s up to us to hold ourselves accountable, and I believe awareness and a greater understanding of these issues is paramount.
When did you switch to a more sustainable lifestyle and what inspired the change for you?
I’ve always been raised to recycle and live in a more “circular way”. For example mum would make a lot of my clothes growing up and when I grew out of things my younger sister would then adopt them. Being exposed to that kind of recycling from a young age gave me a solid foundation of knowledge in terms of how we can be sustainable in our own homes.
In my adult years when Josh and I lived near the beach in Melbourne, the level of plastic waste on the beach was just such an eye-opener. We used to collect bags of crap every time we walked the dogs and it made me feel a little sad and angry. The world is not our trash can! How can people not see that?
Moving up to Byron a few years ago, the community feel is definitely centred around recycling, reusing, and repurposing! Ever since living here, the amount of new ideas I’ve been exposed to regarding alternative ways of living that are eco-friendly has been amazing. I’m just absolutely committed to spreading as much knowledge as I can because I refuse to deny my children and their children the chance to grow up in a world that is safe and clean.
How have you changed your way of living to be more sustainable?
I think twice before buying anything. I ask friends, “What do you use and why?” I’ve looked into my cupboards & thought, “What do I continuously purchase that I could find a one-off replacement for?”
I simply spend the time learning ways around creating unnecessary waste. I’m also more organised these days. I have KeepCups and material bags and baskets in my car as well as in the house. When I buy gifts, I try and ensure it’s a “gift that gives”, rather than just a meaningless thing. I just think more before I act.
What are 4 simple practices that people can easily replace in their everyday life to be more sustainable?
1. Ditch the single-use plastics! Find the alternative…trust me, it exists!
2. Monitor the length of your showers. We live in a dry country…If we all showered for 1-2 minutes less per day, imagine the savings!
3. Dispose of your waste correctly. If you have something that is recyclable, don’t throw it away until you find the right bin.
4. Think twice. Before you act, take a moment and think, “Is there a way I can do this that is better for the environment?” Two quick examples would be using the washing machine and/or the dishwasher. Are they full enough to justify the litres of water they use? If not, hold off until they are.
Why is it important that everyone do their part? How does one person’s actions make a difference in the bigger picture?
Collective community change will lead to such greater and more powerful impacts. If one household can improve their way of living in terms of sustainability, imagine what a whole neighbourhood street could achieve? Then imagine what a whole suburb could achieve! Then a city, a country … the world!
This chain reaction will rapidly decline if we don’t all commit to making changes. It’s just that simple.
When building a home, what do you strive for in keeping your home sustainable and environmentally friendly?
We look into the materials we use, the suppliers, the way we build. It takes time and research of course, but the outcome is amazing…it feels different. You want to sit back and be proud of your projects when they’ve wrapped up, knowing whole-heartedly that they’re as eco-friendly as possible.
How do you implement sustainability within your skin/beauty regime?
Trying to use less water is a big one. For example, I always take 100% of my makeup off before bed. Instead of leaving the tap running or using a bunch of makeup wipes, I opt for an eco-friendly/reusable make-up remover.
I use a natural deodorant to prevent potential toxins entering our clean air, I don’t use skincare products containing microbeads and I try my best to buy from brands who look to minimise their packaging and / or who use biodegradable packaging.
Brands such as TOM Organic, Mukti, Aveda & EcoTan are the types of brands I love supporting as their ethics, their supply chains and their sustainable efforts are based on forward thinking.