Treehugger Tuesday is dedicated to green initiatives and how we can all make little differences to improve the planet we live on. With that in mind, we sought out a sustainable powerhouse
.Vikki Knowles, the founder of Susty Girl, is a world-class susty hacker who constantly strives for improvement, in her own life and for the world at large.
Hey Vikki, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been channeling Sustiness?
Hi! I’m a freelance writer in the sustainable business and ethical living space and blog at sustygirl.co, which straddles susty living and women’s empowerment.
I’d say that caring for the environment started with my love of animals when I was very young, but I only went veggie at 19. Since then I got an internship at an environmental consultancy and then spread my wings and did the freelance thing!
Can you explain a little bit about your blog and sum up what the Susty world view is?
The idea of the blog really starts from the name: Susty Girl. It sounds a little bit like the US retailer Nasty Gal, which gives it a bit of attitude, and gives women the chance to adopt this identity.
So what is a susty girl, exactly? She’s ambitious, probably career driven and on the go a lot – but she really cares about people and planet. She wants to make meaningful changes that are easy to carry out, and make her feel good – for example, she wants food that tastes good, clothes that don’t resemble a hessian sack and basically living a greener life without the hassle. Sometimes sustainability can be a little bit waggy finger and guilt-inducing, (and frankly boring sometimes) and I want to move away from that.
What is your main reason for wanting to make the world more susty?
I have a real affinity with wildlife and spending time in nature, and I want to preserve them for the next generation. Plus, climate change is a big deal – and if we don’t halt that freight train, it’s going to be people in the developing world that are going to be hit first, so it’s a political issue. It increases your appreciation of the value of things – whether it’s a species of tiger, or wearing a second-hand tee and repairing it until it truly is worn out.
Why do you think that some people are so anti-susty (i.e. Donald Trump etc)?
Ha. Great question. I reckon he’s probably got his hands tied by big biz whose interest is in fossil fuels or other anti-susty things?? I don’t think you’re a bad person if you’re not susty, everyone’s trying to do their best. Donald Trump excluded.
What do you think are the biggest problems facing the world in terms of sustiness? How can we work to change them?
Sometimes issues like climate change and sweatshops and food waste can seem so overwhelming that you just want to faint and never wake up. But change really does start with you.Take 14-year-old Lucy Gavahan, who you spoke about on your blog: she managed to take on three of the UK’s biggest supermarkets to stop them selling eggs from caged hens. It’s just incredible. Or celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – he put a spotlight on the reality of food and fashion waste in his program War on Waste, and also lifted the lid on chicken farming a few years ago. Yes, he has a film crew behind him, but it’s his passion and tenacity that makes way for a movement. In answer to your question, speak up, share and live in alignment with your values. Maybe this means you’ll go vegan, start a protest/petition, or maybe refuse to bank with the big 6. You’ll find it likely that with any of the above someone will ask what the deal is. Then you can tell them 🙂
In answer to your question, speak up, share and live in alignment with your values. Maybe this means you’ll go vegan, start a protest/petition, or maybe refuse to bank with the big 6. You’ll find it likely that with any of the above someone will ask what the deal is. Then you can tell them 🙂
Who are your Susty inspirations and why?
Lucy Gavahan and Hugh-y, as above. Also Emma Watson, for pledging to wear only sustainable fashion on the catwalk. Lucy Siegle for being a loud voice for susty and for producing the True Cost movie, and Livia Firth for having her own eco-thing going on and a voice for change – she’s known so much more for that rather than just ‘Colin Firth’s wife’. Also people like Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard and Interface founder Ray Anderson, for having sustainable ideals way ahead of the curve.
What are your go-to susty resources?
I love TreeHugger’s vibe. The Better Business Show podcast is a great way to dive into the latest & greatest in the green biz, and I have a regular news slot on there (shameless plug!). I also love the zero waste movement, and Bea Johnson and Lauren Singer have awesome websites with lots of tips on trash-free living. I also love the Guardian Sustainable Business hub as they have lots of features that are often really interesting – wastewater into beer! And that kind of thing. Innovation is my vibe. Also the True Cost movie (it’s free on Netflix) – I literally can’t shop in fast fashion stores anymore. RIP those days.
What are your biggest susty sins?
Oh! So many. I oggle gas-guzzling 4x4s when they drive past. I haven’t been buying organic recently and forgetting to use my reusable coffee mug. Bad susty girl, bad. My worst one has been going to far away places on holiday. I had the most amazing time but it’s sent my carbon footprint down the crapper, veggie or no veggie. Trying to reconcile that one! Should I change my blog’s name to sortofsustygirl.co?
That’s a little hard on yourself. If someone wanted to be more susty, what are the three main things you’d encourage them to do?
Easy changes first! As well as the things that make you happiest 🙂 okay:
- Buy second-hand clothes and furniture. Vintage is cool these days, super susty and you can often get brands you wouldn’t be able to afford if they were brand new. People are way more interested when you say ‘charity shop’ or ‘found it in the street’ (ha) rather than the standard ‘IKEA’. We have so much furniture that we found in the street, it’s ridiculous!!
- Walk everywhere. It’s a chill way to exercise if you’re not a gym-bunny. I recently discovered the step counter app on my smartphone and find it quite addictive. I’m like ‘shoot, only 7,000 steps today. better go out for a late night walk!” Luckily we live like three miles from town, so there is plenty of opportunity for stretching them legs. In fact, one time, we walked to town, ran some errands, mooched around the harbourside and walked back, clocking up 13 1/2 miles! Personal best. That was a proud (and tiring) day. Transport is a huge one for your carbon footprint so every footstep is like hugging the planet.
- Wear your susty badge with pride. Even if you do tiny little things! If you have the cutest reusable coffee mug, walk around holding it all day like the celebs seem to do (lol) and leave it out for ages on your desk so people can oggle it. “Ooh!” They’ll ask. “Where did you get that?” Then mention that Coffee Shop X gives you 25p off your takeaway coffee when you bring your reusable mug. They’ll be donning their love-me-long-time mug in no time. Also, give people a taste of your outrageously delicious vegan lunch, or bring some to a friend’s BBQ. “What the…?!” their taste buds will say. Saunter round the office in killer heels until someone asks where you got them from. “In a dumpster.” Jokes, but you get the idea. You’ll be inspiring people all over the show.
That’s given us a lot to think about; what were your biggest take aways from Susty Girl’s interview?