Living a more sustainable lifestyle is still something many of us are processing and working on. There will be aspects of our lives where we have actually been ‘living sustainably’ all along, and then others where we might not have realised what a big impact is caused by what we consume.
Pollution from driving, plastic carrier bags and food waste are now pretty common acknowledgements that we’re likely all aware of. But it can feel a bit overwhelming to know where to begin to make these small changes to our own lifestyles. But when we do, we create change. Why? Because we vote with our wallet. We say no, when companies and politicians aren’t doing a good enough job when it comes to sustainability, energy, production, and so on.
To start understanding what we can each do, in a simplified breakdown to get us started with each aspect in our lives, I would highly recommend listening to Sustainably Influenced; a fantastic podcast created by influencers Charlotte Willams and Bianca Foley, guiding people through the maze of sustainability. Charlotte is the founder of Seven Six Agency, an influencer marketing and talent management agency dedicated to diversity and inclusion. Bianca runs a brilliant style blog and is a major advocate for fashion rental.
Each episode leads to a new revelation; we’re talking positive Impact investing, ethical photography and regenerative agriculture. As well as laundry, fashion, rental, mending and alteration, and how colonialism, climate change and consumerism are all intertwined. If you haven’t heard their episode with Aja Barber, you can listen right here, to learn more about the injustices of how we source cheap labour and use low paid garment workers to make fast fashion (and it’s not just fast fashion!), disproportionately affecting the Global South for the gains of the Global North.
This podcast has kept me going through the lockdowns, and kept me on an educational path to learning more about how to improve my own lifestyle and what to consider for the future. I was excited to hear more from Charlotte and Bianca about what they’ve discovered through making the podcast....
What sparked the idea to start the Sustainably Influenced Podcast?
Sustainably Influenced, like most new businesses or podcasts, came about due to a little frustration that both Charlotte and I had over the number of parcels we received as content creators. We both had so many questions about sustainability and recycling so we decided to hold an event so that we could ask experts! We were so pleased to see that so many people attended the event (we actually sold out tickets!!) and it made us realise how many people really wanted to learn more about sustainability and so, the podcast was born!
You’ve interviewed people from all different industries, from fashion to finance, feminine hygiene and renewable energy. What are your top three biggest surprises to hear about sustainability?
For us, one of the 3 biggest surprises relate to how different sustainability is perceived by different people and more interestingly, how the meaning of sustainability seems to vary from person to person. Another one would be that even in this climate, so many people don’t know where to start when it comes to making sustainable changes and there’s a lack of access to sustainable products. The final one is how many items aren’t recycled or recyclable. It really shocked us when we found out that so many of our household items aren’t recyclable.
You’ve had the Sustainably Influenced Podcast running for 2 years now. What have been your biggest takeaways?
In short, it still shocks us for how much still needs to be done to affect change.
You both work in the influencer industry, and are advocates for sustainable living. There are more influencers working in the sustainability space now and advocating for change. What do you think the industry can do to promote sustainability across the board? How do you see the future of the influencer industry becoming more aligned with sustainability and promotion?
First and foremost, brands use social media to sell their items and that is where influencers come in. We are a new breed of “personality” endorsing products and encouraging our audiences to purchase, but above all, it needs to be authentic. We have both struggled with balancing being influencers with living more eco-conscious lifestyles and have voiced those concerns quite openly on the podcast.
It is something that we want to shift over the next few years. We would love to see more brands work to reduce the number of new products being released. Fast fashion is still the most dominant form of social media advertising and it’s disappointing to see so many influencers still working with them, whether it’s on a paid or unpaid basis. We can only enforce change when we collectively decide to stop working with certain brands.
Charlotte and Bianca, founders of Sustainably Influenced podcast, for education and living tips with sustainability in mind
I often find myself nodding along to the podcast and shouting ‘yes!’ out loud when a really resounding remark is made. Which episode has individually been your favourite and why?
So I (Charlotte) really loved the episodes we did with Keshia Hannam - who was a guest on both seasons 1 & 2 and is global speaker, writer, and activist, who works to heighten individuals’ and groups' understanding of their own biases, the actions they can take, and how the climate crisis impacts brown and black communities most.
My favourite (Bianca) is an episode from this season with Professor Steven Wright who teaches at USW and the episode was a deep dive into what it actually takes to create a sustainable fashion brand.
Have there been any moments on the podcast that have personally impacted you to swap your own lifestyle habits for a more sustainable option?
The episode with Oxwash was a lightbulb moment for both of us! Kyle taught us that nothing needs to be washed above 30 degrees, we had both been doing our towels on 40 or 60 because that is what our parents did. But now, we both only wash on cold!
What top 5 things would you recommend to people to make as easy changes towards a more sustainable lifestyle?
Oh gosh, this is really hard to narrow down as there are so many tips we could give!
- We would say, start in your bathroom. We all have so many beauty and bathroom products and not until you start to go through them, do you realise how much plastic is in them!
- Another place to look at is your kitchen- food waste is a huge deal, we think that everyone should learn how to properly store food as a means of reducing your food waste.
- Use what you have first before buying new items, whether that be in your wardrobe or your kitchen cupboards, learn to create new meals out of what you have or organise your wardrobe using apps like Whering which is a digital wardrobe app.
- Other ways you can improve at home include swapping to a smart metre or energy efficient electricity provider like Octopus Energy.
- Finally, look at your cleaning products, change to more eco-friendly options but make sure to use up what you currently have first!
During the pandemic, between 2020 and September 2021, global carbon emissions fell by just 6.4%.* With many countries being in full lockdown, and economies grinding to a slow and steady pace, many scientists expected this to be much more. Things mostly got switched rather than stopping - we traded our office power for home energy. Showers just happened later in the day, lights stayed on for longer, we ran our computers from home.
Whilst we desperately need policy changes, laws and greater action from big companies and brands, we each can have an impact in change. We will have to make lifestyle changes to achieve a more sustainable world and look after our planet, and if we make our choices known, the big corps and governments will have to take note as their profits slide.
There are so many brilliant tips, ideas and insightful information in all of the episodes of Sustainably Influenced, whether to help you make changes in your lifestyle, or to educate on areas that you might want to learn more about or not even know. Bianca and Charlotte have also just released their Christmas bonus episode, for some great tips on how to have a more sustainable Christmas - think food waste, wrapping and Christmas tree decorations.
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