Sustainability & The New Year Ahead, by Tansy Kaschak
JOURNALIST, ARTIST AND ACTIVIST
Briefly tell us about your journey toward living a more sustainably minded life and when it became an important part of it.
I am fortunate to have been embedded in an environmentally aware universe from the get go. Part from necessity, as my migrant family treasured every bit of resource they could get hold of; and part from education, as the schools I attended in eco-forward South Brazil were super progressive. I first visited landfills and recycling facilities when I was 7 years old. Right there, I understood that there is no such thing as throwing something "away" and that we must be responsible for the things we consume. I have a burning desire to honor my privileges and share what I learn, so I can say that my professional life has been a pure growing of that first seed.
Please suggest 2-3 intentions or practices that we can set for the year ahead and easily implement into our everyday routine to leave a lower footprint on the planet.
Compost. It's easier than we think and the impact is huge. Yes, we can get elaborate, buy a fancy composting station and start an indoor worm farm—and that's fantastic. But it can also be as simple as keeping a bowl by the sink to collect our daily food scraps, then transfer them to a large bag in the freezer and, when that's full, you can ask your local community or use the Share Waste app to easily find a receiver. Keep the goodness in nature's loop. Food, in any form, should never go to waste.
Meditate and spend time in nature. From my own practice I know that the more I cut through the noise and connect with myself and with the natural world, the more I am aware of my place in the web of life and the less I need to consume. Nature is the real teacher, all we need as students is mindfulness.
Ditch plastic. By carrying a water bottle, a tote bag, your own made-at-home snacks, especially if you're traveling. The amount of trash we are offered on a long haul flight is insane! Opting for products that come in bars — like shampoo and conditioner, body soap, dish and clothes soap, amongst many others — will also help reduce your plastic footprint a great deal.
And I will share another one, because this is really important: eating less animal products. I don't mean to impose we should all be vegan, that would be terrific, of course, but even for people that care for having meat, eggs, or dairy in their diet, considering an intake reduction can already have a significant effect on our efforts to mitigate climate change. Perhaps you choose certain days of the week to have a plant-based diet? Or, as Jonatan Safram Foer suggests in "We Are The Weather", a book I highly recommend, only eating animal products at dinner? What is good to remember is that every meal is an opportunity to make a conscious choice that has a direct influence on our planet's wellbeing.
...and some sources to keep up with climate and impact news and information.
Atmos magazine is one of the best publications I've seen in a long time. The Slowfactory Foundation is a great resource too. I avoid fear and anxiety mongering news but I do browse major outlets (like The New York Times and The Guardian) looking for inspiring stories and good news. And my brilliant friend Lily Cole published this year "Who Cares Wins", a book and podcast series that are an impressive source of education (and hope) for any human on Earth.
How do you shop more mindfully or purposefully?
Growing up with grandmas that were skilled seamstresses taught me how to look at what I have and imagine new possibilities. So my first choice is always to "shop" in my own closet and transform what I already have. Then second-hand—I live for second-hand, pre-loved everything. And, because I do love fashion and want to support the mindful creatives doing it right, when I buy something new I invest in well made, long lasting pieces, like a good pair of AERA shoes.
What hopes – that could better aid our Earth and Climate – do you have for the year ahead?
If there is a silver lining for 2020 is that we are learning to be kinder to ourselves, to each other, and to our habitat. So if we kick off the new year with a greater sense of responsibility towards the prosperity of all living things, we might have a chance to redefine what progress really means and live in a world that is good and fair not just to a few but to all. I also hope global leaders, on both politics and business, will focus more on Climate Justice, on educating girls and empowering women.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on AERA and our measurability and impact practices.
I truly appreciate AERA's efforts and transparency and can only say I expect more players in the industry to get inspired by what you do!