‘Future is an attitude’: We asked 4 Irish women why sustainability is important to them
13th Nov 2020
Our future is determined by the choices we make day to day. No one knows this better than Ruthy Ruby, Louise Slyth, Geraldine Carton and Sarah Williams — four Irish women who’ve chosen sustainable lifestyles for uniquely special reasons.
The biggest impact we can have on our world starts with our daily decisions. Unfortunately, since the dawn of plastics, fast fashion and an overwhelming abundance of single-use and high-energy consuming products have limited our lifestyle options over the years.
But there are so many sustainable alternatives on the market nowadays. Homegrown and eco-friendly brands have pushed their way to the storefront, backed by a more progressive generation, and have given us more purchasing power than ever before.
Cars, for example, can leave a huge carbon footprint due to fuel consumption, emissions of air pollution and greenhouse gases. That’s why Audi offers energy efficient vehicles, so we can choose to be more green every day.
The eco-conscious brand has adopted a thoughtful mantra, ‘Future is an attitude’ — one they hope will equip their customers with a more future-oriented mindset. In partnership with Audi, we asked four Irish women why this daily sustainability is important to them.
Co-founder of The Useless Project
“Sustainability to me means much more than funky keep cups, or the smug sensation that comes with a particularly thrifty charity shop purchase (although, I mean of course there is that too). Personally, it means connecting the dots between my individual behaviour and what is happening in the world around me. Taking responsibility for the impact my life is having on this planet and its most vulnerable inhabitants, and using my privilege and ‘purse power’ to turn the dial from negative to positive where at all possible.
“I am by no means ‘perfectly sustainable’, but I’ve increasingly found that the more of an effort I make in one aspect of my life (e.g. avoiding fast fashion completely), then the more I am spurred on to try and tackle another area in my life (eg. reducing the amount of food I waste week-by week). I know that living more sustainably has made me a more thoughtful citizen and has definitely increased my sense of personal wellbeing. I can’t describe the buzz I get from supporting local small businesses, and let me tell you, the mindfulness that comes with sewing back on a button *knows no bounds*.
“Getting involved in the sustainability movement and feeling the support and encouragement from my fellow environmental enthusiasts has hugely helped me to remain positive in the face of the climate emergency we’re all currently facing. Making a point to learn about the reality of what is going on around the world and understand the solutions available has also empowered me to keep going. At the end of the day, I truly believe that living an increasingly sustainable lifestyle is going to be our only option. If we want future generations to see through to the next century then we need to make the necessary changes today. It’s pretty much as simple as that.”
Geraldine’s sustainability tips are:
- Channel the energy of the generations before us! They never let food go to waste, they only invested in a few good quality pieces, and they all knew how to mend clothing. In truth, our grannies were the original “sustainability queens” and they didn’t even know it!
- Eat seasonal, locally-farmed produce. By doing so you can decrease your carbon footprint in a BIG way, with minimal effort. Check out stopfoodwaste.ie for seasonality calendars.
- Shop secondhand. We have anything between 40 to 400 per cent more clothing than people did 20 years ago, and yet we’re keeping it for half as long. So, instead of requiring additional resources to create new products, why not make use of what is already in circulation and check out your local charity shop, or vintage store, or the likes of Depop and Thriftify online!
Publicist, writer and vintage fashion guru
“To be honest, I get overwhelmed with the sustainability thing sometimes. I wouldn’t identify as someone who is ALL about sustainability because, frankly, I don’t think any of us can be unless we are living off the land with no outgoings, electricity etc. However, I am eco-conscious and I do try my best to live that way. Swapping out single use plastics, not using as much electricity and eating less meat are the sort of things I do day to day.
“In terms of feeding my addiction to nice things, which is unavoidable sometimes, I’ll only buy something new if I know it will last me for years. I have a lot of clothes that I’ve coveted for over eight years and I’m the girl my friends always say: ‘Jeez Ruthy you’re great for wearing and re-wearing things’. If I see something new that I love, it has to be a thoughtful purchase with longevity in mind. I also always try to find vintage things. My favourite way to spend my downtime is browsing through charity shops and finding pieces that make me gasp. I’m a divil for overreacting with a gasp when it comes to things I rummage out and find. Sometimes the shop keepers ask me if I am alright.
“My first experience with finding vintage treasures was in New York when me and my friends would go to these massively overwhelming rail farms with jackets and shirts galore. That’s when I first felt the magic of it. It’s my favourite type of shopping because there is always good music playing, cool people around you and the person at the till is so not bothered to be there. It feels like you’re invading their secret place. My most recent treasure is a 35mm film camera that I got in a beautiful thrift shop in Galway called An Gailearai Beag. There were almost ghosts coming out of the walls trying to show you their treasures. Overall, we can’t really, totally avoid harming the planet and I think adopting a healthy attitude helps you better understand why people do the eco-friendly things they do. Education is the best start.”
Ruth’s sustainability tips are:
- Use less technology – less screen time is less energy waste.
- Try to eat more veg and less meat and when you’re shopping, get the loose bits, unwrapped!
- Use and re-use, wear and re-wear.
PR Consultant and sustainability champion
“I believe that living sustainably is a mindset. It’s about a lot of little actions, as opposed to one big action. Living sustainably became even more important to me when my daughter was born as I became much more aware of the world she was going to grow up in and the world I was going to leave behind for her.
“I witnessed the effects of global warming first hand when I was on honeymoon in Alaska a few years ago and saw how much the glaciers had retreated over the last 50 years alone. Record-breaking temperatures are rapidly melting away inches of surface ice every single day, some glaciers are losing 50 to 100 feet off the glacier’s face every year. While this may seem remote to us in Ireland, climate change is very real.
“While it might seem insurmountable to fix such a huge problem on your own, I’m a big believer that all of the little efforts on a daily or weekly basis add up and I’m keen to educate the next generation from an early age!”
Sarah’s sustainability tips are:
- Start small! Consider switching your washing powder and softener for a laundry eco egg, which can give you up to 720 washes, with no packaging, no harmful chemicals and helps to reduce single use plastics. You can buy these online on www.earthmother.ie or from Reuzi in Foxrock.
- Maybe swap your plastic water bottle for a chilli bottle.
- In this day and age, use reusable face masks, as opposed to disposable ones.
Communications consultant and writer
“Many of us have historically felt sustainability was solely the domain of government and big business, however the last few years have seen a shift to personal responsibility. We now know it’s not just up to global players to make the changes the planet needs, it’s up to all of us. Making small changes to our everyday lives can collectively make a difference. Or said another way, if we each change our habits, it will encourage businesses to change theirs.
“Living sustainably is important to me, because I know that by embracing subtle shifts in my own consumption and lifestyle, I can personally enact change and urge businesses to make eco-friendly choices. I have always had a love of nature, instilled by my parents and grandparents. The climate changes and loss of animal species I’ve seen in my lifetime alone are terrifying. I want to make a difference. I’m by no means perfect, but I do recycle most things, have almost zero food waste, and for years have maintained a ‘cost per wear’ spreadsheet to keep my shopping habit honest!
“I think the pandemic may have temporarily averted the public attention away from sustainability. Perhaps we only feel able to cope with one crisis at a time? I think we can still choose to make small changes that will ultimately make a big difference.
Louise’s sustainability tips are:
- Use a muslin cloth rather than wipes to remove make-up – it’s better for the environment and your skin. I use VOYA organic muslin facial cloths coupled with their Totally Balmy facial cleansing balm, which is like a mini home spa every day…
- When it comes to fashion, shop mindfully. Think about what you are buying – is it a want or a need? Look for sustainable fabrics like plant-based fibres, seek out sustainable ranges within your favourite brands, wash items on the 30 cycle, and donate or recycle anything you no longer need.
- If you do one thing, avoid plastic. Switch to cans or glass bottles, which can both be recycled easily. Look for alternatives to plastic whenever you shop. Give the kids packed lunches in a reusable box.
The future is an attitude. To discover the future of mobility, visit progress.audi/progress.
Read more: Here’s how I fared with 5 sustainable home necessity swaps
Read more: We love this Irish brand making sustainable, size inclusive jeans
Read more: 5 homegrown Irish designers you can support during the pandemic
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