In the latest in our Life as I know it series, blogger and environmental activist Laura Young shares her journey in sustainability so far and the impact it has on her career and daily life.
It is hard to pinpoint when I first became interested in living sustainably, and lowering the impact of my lifestyle. Ever since I can remember, my favourite thing to do has been to be outside in nature, being awestruck by its vastness, and diving into nature documentaries from legends like David Attenborough. Being immersed in the natural world meant that I felt a deep connection to care for our world, and reverse some of the damage which has been done through our reckless consumption and exploitation. I took this passion into my further studies, and have recently graduated from my masters in Environmental Protection and Management from the University of Edinburgh.
My passion for sustainability is sewn throughout my career. Not only is my academic background in this field, but my work through online blogging strives to educate and motivate people to learn more about living sustainably and lowering our impact on the planet. My week is split between working for the international development charity Tearfund, fighting for justice for those most impacted by poverty, and then working on my environmental blog Less Waste Laura, creating content to educate people about living environmentally, and giving talks to inspire people to make change. I have always had a passion for sharing knowledge. That’s why I want to use what I have learned in my university degrees, which I am so privileged to have had the chance to study, to share with everyone, making it accessible for all.
Every day I try and tread as lightly as possible on our planet, taking care to make decisions which do not harm others throughout the world by avoiding systems filled with injustice. Everything from carrying reusables to avoid single-use items, dressing myself in thrifted clothes and lowering my environmental footprint divesting in carbon intensive industries and fossil fuels. I try to bring sustainability into every aspect of my life: what I buy, what I wear, how I travel and how I eat. This helps tackle the problem from lots of angles, but also helps spread the load to avoid feeling overwhelmed in just one area.
One of the biggest journeys I have been on is my transition away from fast fashion. We are all recovering hypocrites, living differently than before and learning from our mistakes, and it is important to be transparent about this to encourage everyone to journey along with you. I never really enjoyed shopping, particularly clothes shopping, so ordering online became the easiest option for me. But with that comes lots of shipping, lots of plastic packaging, and lots of returns. Moving away from fast fashion has meant changing my habits to something which is naturally uncomfortable for me – from surfing the web in my pyjamas to trawling through second-hand charity shops and vintage fairs. In the beginning it was tough. I didn’t like what seemed a frustrating process for little reward. However, I have learned to look at this in a different way. Thinking of these stores as treasure troves, needing to be searched through to find a hidden gem. Now I hold my head high, showing off the amazing second-hand clothes I find and encourage others to take on the challenge.
I think of my money as a vote. A vote which I can cast for a better world for all. A vote for fairer supply chains, a vote for eradicating injustice and a vote for environmental protection. Buying better and buying less. There are some things I have bought ‘new’, but advocate as sustainable purchases, and they have truly been a blessing. I love using my shampoo and conditioner bars, menstrual cup, organic cotton pants and socks, as well as supporting local small businesses where possible. Shopping differently has meant I have slowed down, done a lot more research into companies, and I now feel like I am really investing my money well by supporting businesses which are also striving to make our planet a fairer place for all. There is so much we need governments and big corporations to do, however until they begin to make this change we must show that we are willing to change with them!