Sustainability Talks with Travel for Difference
We love Kate’s background story on how and why she decided to live a sustainable lifestyle. A series of trip to India and Alaska made her realize how fragile the Earth is and how every decisions we make really does count. What we like is her honest approach on how living a sustainable lifestyle is a process and it’s not about being perfect, but rather about trying to do your best every day. We will definitely borrow her idea of the "little bag of zero waste tricks", so clever!
She’s born in Melbourne, Australia and lived there her whole life, with no plans to move as she loves being surrounded by family and living in such a beautiful country! Check her out at @travelfordifferenceblog and on her website travelfordifference.com.
1. When did you realize sustainability was a topic you cared about and decided to adopt a specific lifestyle?
For me, the biggest life change definitely started after visiting India in 2015; my life did a total 180° and everything about my future was influenced by the vibrant atmosphere and confronting sights. But in terms of sustainability, the passion definitely manifested after visiting Exit Glacier in Alaska and seeing how drastically the ice was melting due to human destruction.
It wasn't an instant epiphany by any means, it took another year or so for me to really make a difference. But there's no doubt that seeing the melting glaciers in Alaska was something that always stood in the back of my mind. Every time I did something bad to the environment from that day onwards, Exit Glacier was flashing in my thoughts.
Then one day after constantly feeling bad about myself, I finally decided to stop ignoring my guilt and turn my thoughts into actions. It was by far the best decision I've ever made and I've never felt better!
2. Can you share one story of sustainability that has recently made you happy and one that made you sad?
Well recently in Australia, the major supermarket stores finally banned their plastic bags! So now consumers must bring their own or purchase the re-usable bags that are offered in store. There's been a few hiccups, but it's definitely a step in the right direction and it's so amazing to see so many people being more conscious of their plastic waste!
And apart from constantly seeing trash in the ocean and on our beautiful beaches, the most upsetting thing I've experienced recently was Monkey Island in Negombo, Sri Lanka.
It was a small mangrove island where 2 Toque Macaques were placed for tourism, but that number has now expanded to 50 which sadly means that they are all inbred... They have no food or water and rely entirely on human interaction for survival. It was absolutely awful but it totally opened my eyes to a whole other form of unethical wildlife tourism!
3. Which is the one behaviour that you have changed in your day to day that had the biggest impact on living more sustainably?
Due to recently moving into my own home, I was able to start fresh and develop new habits which has definitely helped! I never used to care much about what I purchased as a consumer, but I've taught myself to do things with a conscious mindset.
Before I buy anything I ask myself if I can make it using things I already have at home, or alternatively in a zero waste method! Before doing anything I ask myself if it's good for me, good for the planet and good for the animals too, and if the answer is no... I don't do it!
One of my favourite quotes is "Progress over Perfection" and this has 100% helped me on my journey as it reminds me that sustainability is not a race. Being eco-friendly seems so daunting at first as there's so much to learn, but this quote reminds me to stay positive and take things as they come.
I also haven't eaten meat in over 2 years which was the easiest decision for me in terms of living more sustainably... I basically just learnt to live by my legacy and be the most compassionate person I can!
4. What are your top 3 tips for being more sustainable while traveling?
1 - Shop locally! So basically, don't go all the way to Thailand and eat at a major food chain like McDonalds... Shop at local stores, eat in locally owned restaurants and support the local community in every way that you can.
Bali is a good example of how this problem has escalated - It's such a popular destination for Australians which has grown dramatically in recent years, but now the main areas are full of major chains such as Zara and Topshop. A lot of the culture has been lost and the locals are sadly suffering due to the result of mass tourism... Support the locals, always!
2 - Stay at sustainable accommodations! Air BnB is a great option, but if you like to stay in resorts or hotels, just choose the ones that have the earth in mind! Avoid the major chains and once again, look for those that are locally owned and who run their hotel in an eco-friendly way. Trust me, it's not as difficult as it may sound!
3 - Only support ethical animal encounters! This might seem like an obvious one but being mindful of the treatment of animals is so important. Always do your research before visiting any wildlife attraction, and be wary of so called "sanctuaries"... Unfortunately there are many attractions that trick tourists into thinking their intentions are good, when in reality that's far from the truth. Seeing animals in the wild is by far the best option. But in general, research is key!
5. Which is the one thing/object you have with you in all your travels that helps to be more sustainable?
Regardless of where I go or where I am, I always carry a little pouch called my "little bag of zero waste tricks"! It has a fold up reusable bag, bamboo cutlery, a bamboo straw and a jar in it, and it's an essential item that has pretty much become a part of me. It's my saving grace that gets me out of using so much unnecessary plastic!
Apart from that, I think a filtered water bottle is a necessity when travelling abroad as plastic bottles are one of the biggest culprits of plastic waste - especially from travellers. If a filtered water bottle can avoid a few from lying around on the earth, then that's a win for me!
Check out Kate's work and get inspired by her lifestyle!
See you next week for another interview.