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Friends of Loving Earth

Plant-based, Zero-Waste Xmas: At home with The Green Hub and Loving Earth

Say hello to our plant-based eco-warrior, Kira Simpson from The Green Hub - all-in-one health, wellbeing, sustainable living and ethical brand directory! We recently sat down with her for our plant-based, zero-waste Xmas at Home series to chat all things zero-waste living and going plant-based! She also shares her tips and ideas on zero-waste gifting (just what we need, this time of the year!)

Hey Kira! 

We love all that you are about – from living sustainably, spreading the word about ethical fashion, AND being a plant-based warrior ? When did you transition into this sort of lifestyle, and what sparked the change (if there was an ah-ha moment!)

I studied biology and environmental science at uni. It opened my eyes to some of the major issues facing our planet, but my lifestyle changes didn’t really start until a few years later. Using natural cleaning products was the first change I made, followed by investing in a reusable water bottle and coffee cup. Then I started composting. The rest just developed from there with time and research. What we eat, where we shop, how we live, I realised these choices have the power to shape the kind of world we want to live in. Every small change opened the door to new opportunities to live a little more sustainably.

The eco-friendly message you are spreading to your community of followers is so inspiring, especially when it comes to Christmas, as we get that it’s a time where A LOT of waste can accumulate. What’s the best advice you can give to our readers for them to minimise as much waste as possible this year? 

Don't buy things for people they don’t need! Australians receive around 20 million unwanted Christmas gifts every year. If you like giving gifts, and it is nice to give gifts, ask the recipient what they want first, you eliminate the waste straight up. If you want to surprise them give an experience, given them your time, make food, donate in their name. There are lots of ways to give without gifting. 

Food waste is another huge issue, especially at Christmastime. Plan meals, make a list, and stick to it, store food correctly so it lasts, eat, freeze or share the leftovers and make sure you compost your food scraps.

Lastly, ditch the wrapping paper. In Australia we use more than 150,000km of wrapping paper during Christmas, that's enough to wrap around Earth’s equator nearly 4 times! Most can’t be recycled and some paper is covered in glitter, a microplastic that is bad for the environment. Some wrapping alternatives:

  • Christmas print fabric from Spotlight that can be reused each year.
  • Get the kids to create art on plain paper, it adds an extra special personal touch to the gift.
  • Brown paper that can be composted - you can decorate with stamps, dried flowers, pretty ribbons. 
  • Hit the op-shops and look for scarves, tea towels, fabric, and try the Japanese Furoshiki wrapping.
  • Look for eco-friendly wrapping paper that can be recycled.

What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced since going sustainable/zero-waste? 

I dove in headfirst thinking I needed to be perfectly plastic-free, vegan, make my own cleaning and beauty products, only buy from brands with 100% traceable supply chains, I was militant with my commitment to living a more eco-friendly life in the beginning, I was very hard on myself, and it wasn’t sustainable long term. 

I've since learned that it's not about being perfect, it’s about doing what you can with the tools you have available to you. That it's about the mindset shift more than the individual actions we take. Because once you’re aware of the issues like plastic pollution and Climate Change, you begin to understand the importance of collective action and system change. You don’t become an activist overnight, it starts small with things like composting and reusable, and most importantly it's how your actions inspire and influence the people around you to change as well. 

One of my favourite quotes sums this up perfectly.

"You can argue all day about whether one person not using straws or going vegan makes a global difference. The point is the mindset. We need to change our thinking from this idea that the earth is a bottomless pit of resources and start acting like what we do matters. Changing the philosophy of cultures and societies starts with individuals changing their own hearts and minds. That's the importance of grassroots action. It's not that my composting will empty landfills of food waste but my changed mind and heart may influence others. And that could spread and change the world." - Olga Evans

People go plant-based for a number of reasons. What was the main reason for you?

I first went plant-based because I know that one of the biggest ways we can reduce our impact on the planet is by consuming less meat and dairy products. Animal agriculture, specifically beef and dairy, is the single biggest cause of land clearing around the world plus emissions from transport. But it's not as simple as saying everyone needs to be vegan to help the planet, food choices are very personal and dependant on so many factors like health, culture, cost, accessibility. I'm a big supporter of regenerative agriculture having seen firsthand locally how It benefits the environment, the animals, the farmers, and the local community. As for how I eat, I follow the Climatarian diet, predominately plant-based with the occasional local pastured animal products, eating in season, buying locally grown produce, and avoiding packaging where can.

If you could have one Xmas wish for our home planet, what would it be? 

A commitment to climate action and a future based on renewable energy in Australia. That's not too much to ask for right?

Any zero-waste/ethical gifting ideas or recommendations?

Some of the really great quality zero waste tools like stainless steel water bottles, coffee cups, and glass storage containers can be on the pricier side so they would be very welcome gifts for anyone wanting to start living more low waste. Seed & Sprout and Biome are my favourite places to find these things. Put together an eco-living starter kit in a box or basket with produce bags, beeswax wraps, and reusables like straws and cutlery. I'm also a big fan of plants, (I have about 50 indoor plants!), they make really great inexpensive gifts. 

So, we hear that making chocolate desserts is one of your favourite things to do! Can you share with us your favourite chocolate dessert? 

Brownies are my favourite. And they have to be gooey, and super chocolaty with lots of added chocolate chunks and nuts. 

Dogs or cats? Dogs! I have a 50kg Lab x Great Dane named Charlie who is the love of my life. 

Tea or coffee? Coffee, I can’t start the day without it.

Early bird or night owl? Early bird. I like to wake up with the sun and hit the beach with Charlie when it's quiet.

Homebody or traveller? Both. I love being at home but have the need to travel, explore new places, and have adventures.

Sweet or spicy? Both as well! I have a sweet tooth and I really love spicy food, especially Thai soups, and curries.

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