Friday, September 8, 2017

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Green Light- Ariel

A weight has been lifted from my shoulders says this eco-sista

How long have you been eco-friendly? Living an eco-friendly lifestyle is a continuous process. I am constantly learning what that even means. As I learn more about ingredients in products and the wide-ranging impact these products have on the planet, my definition and lifestyle readjusts. The process to sustainable living began 2.5 years ago with the phrase "shop small, shop local". At the time, I was working for a large fashion company and began to notice the waste and excess in the industry. I started seeking out fashion brands that cared about craftsmanship from a life cycle standpoint, from design to dump.

Why did you choose to be eco-friendly? It's hard to ignore facts once you've learned them. I couldn't continue on as if my actions had no impact on the planet, it was easy. Who wants to be a negative impact on society, really? The issue is that many of us don't know the wide ranging effects our actions have. It's rarely discussed.

We are taught the importance of being kind to our neighbors. Yet, "our neighbors" are seen as the people we interact with everyday. When in fact, in this global economy, our neighbors and our impact stretch far across the globe. That $8 shirt from your favorite fast-fashion retailer was made in a sweatshop in Bangladesh. My neighbor, as I see it now, is the woman with her 6 month old sleeping next to her on the floor as she sews those shirts with hundreds of other women in a poorly maintained building.  

What do you like about it? A weight has been lifted from my shoulders. We walk around in denial and we know it. A thought may have crossed our minds once. Like, "why isn't all food in the grocery store organic"? Yet, we dismiss it because maybe we got distracted or are in a rush. Nonetheless, we are aware of some discrepancy in our shopping pattern.

We "reassure" ourselves when we see others participating in these discrepancies. Or, we choose to trust others, like the government or corporations, to make important decisions for us. The choice to be eco-friendly, vegan, sustainable, or any major life change begins by accepting you have a choice. Knowing I'm not held to society's standards has freed me from many of the worries we tend to have to maintain those unhealthy standards. Also, it's a trickle effect. Being more eco-friendly in fashion has led to being more conscious in other aspects of life.

Did you face any challenges?If so, what was/is the biggest obstacle(s)? The only obstacle has been finding eco-friendly resources as I travel. And uncovering the patience to find them. Some cities and countries are more advanced in their offerings. I know that I cannot expect to find the same amount of locally owned, eco-minded shops and restaurants everywhere. Yet, I grew up in an age of convenience.

I'm used to having just about everything at my fingertips. This is where patience and constant learning comes in. Researching places to eat, to shop, or just to visit takes time. It's no longer about what's the fastest, the cheapest, or the trendiest. If I can't find everything in one grocery store, I take it as an opportunity to explore more. As much as I think I have to have something immediately then I want it, I'm usually just fine waiting to find it from a sustainable resource.

Any tips/advice for someone looking to be more eco-friendly? Never be afraid to ask more questions. Start with an aspect of your life that you feel passionate about. Is it fashion? Dig into where your favorite clothing brands are made, which materials are used, and how it impacts the environment. Do you love cooking? You'll love it even more when you personally know where your ingredients come from. Then, ask more questions. You will confront answers that make you feel shame, guilt, and even disgust at how you lived your life previously. And that's okay. You can make the change to live a life that makes you proud and happy. One that's conscious not complacent. 

Going green can be complex. This discourages a lot of people. There's really no "right" way it's basically trying to do something than nothing at all. I sometimes feel like a green hypocrite. Do you feel that way sometimes? It's a complex growing process. I accepted that from the beginning and jumped in head first knowing that I didn't have the answers. That meant I would have to learn along the way. I would make mistakes. A part of my journey to being more conscious is a recognition of our human-ness.

None of us have all of the answers. And I was tired of pretending like I did. I wouldn't say I've felt like a hypocrite but I do find myself being quite critical of the process. Feeling as if I should know more than I do. Or, as if I'm transitioning to a fully green lifestyle too slowly. In those moments I remind myself of what I have learned and how far I have come in my knowledge base.

You know I gotta ask, How long have you been natural and how do you keep it so FLY? Why thank you! I stopped getting relaxers 3 years ago but continued getting blow outs for another year and a half. I stopped the blow outs in 2016 when I started traveling full time. As I learned more about what naturally curly hair needs I was even more inspired to "go green". Chemical relaxers and chemical in hair products can be just as damaging as heat on curly hair, let alone our bodies and the environment.

This "fly" phase is new! (Haha). The transitioning phase from straightened blow outs to completely curly was completely different but it did teach me a lot about my hair types and curl patterns. I live by my wash-and-go. My lifestyle is pretty unstable in terms of having a cabinet full of hair products. It's impossible as I travel. My hair products have to fit in my gym and travel bags. My fave products right now are Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Conditioner for my weekly co-wash, Curls Blueberry Bliss leave-in conditioner, and Miss Jessie's Pillow Soft Curls or Devacurl Ultra-light Defining Gel right after co-washing while my hair is still wet. Then, pretty much nothing. I let it air dry as I walk my dog or explore a new city. I do use Devacurl No-poo once a month to get rid of build up too.

Is there anything you like to add? After talking to other people on the journey to living are sustainable lifestyles, including veganism and examining my own journey, I know it requires a complete mental shift. The hardest part seems to be facing the facts and the guilt over the way you have been living. The realization that it may not have been as healthy as you thought it was can be hard to face. Trust me, I can relate. I'm here to talk and mentor anyone who needs it. I don't have all the answers but having a community of people that support you can make a big difference. Let's be eco-best friends! We can chat at We The Wildflowers or on Instagram


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