Marketing Coordinator| Blogger
eco+amour: Tell us a bit about your journey to living a more sustainable lifestyle.
Candice Tay: My journey to living a more sustainable lifestyle began over a span of a few years. I first learned about zero waste living through Lauren Singer or Trash is for Tossers and a video about her fitting a years worth of trash into a single jar. From there I started to learning about more people who were pursuing a zero waste lifestyle which then led me to the documentary True Cost. This was truly an eye-opening documentary that revealed to me so much about the fast fashion industry that I had never known before. I have always really enjoyed fashion and styling so learning all about the horrors of the fast fashion industry really kickstarted my journey to exploring sustainable and ethical fashion. In 2017 I got married and moved to Sydney, Australia with my husband who had been studying and working over there. I literally packed my life in one suitcase and travelled across the world. This move was another big part of my sustainability journey that taught me that I really didn’t need much to live on. Simply having a few, quality items was enough.
When we moved back to Toronto, I decided to “pursue” this sustainable lifestyle with a little more intention, and that’s when I started my documenting my low-waste lifestyle on Instagram and my blog.
e+a: What are some of your favourite sustainable living items and/or habits?
CT: Some of my favourite sustainable living items and habits are the easiest ones to incorporate into my life. I love having a reusable bottle or tumbler with me because it’s such a simple change that anyone can make. My husband and I are both huge coffee drinkers so having reusable tumblers are a great swap for those takeaway coffee cups. Another one of my favourites is Castile soap! It is such a great multi-purpose cleaner and I love that it’s easily accessible in bulk or even in refill shops!
e+a: What are some of the challenges you face in trying to leave as little a footprint as possible?
CT: For the longest time, convenience was and still is a big challenge for me. A lot of our single-use plastics exist because they make life easier and more convenient for people. For example, we have takeaway cups, cutlery, disposable straws, takeaway containers, etc. A way I try to get past this challenge is to try to be intentional about what I bring with me each day. If I know I’m going to get bubble tea or have a takeaway coffee, I’ll make sure I have a boba straw with me and a reusable cup. I almost always carry a mini zero waste kit and a tote bag with me so I can say no to a lot of the single use plastics throughout my day.
e+a: As a self-proclaimed avid fashion lover, when you started living more eco-consciously, how did that change your clothing + accessories purchasing decisions? Did you find the transition difficult?
CT: When I started living more eco-consciously, the first change I made was to stop shopping and start shopping within my wardrobe. I already had a whole closet full of beautiful clothes, there was no need to buy more. I actually didn’t find it too difficult because when I started this “journey” I had just come back from living in Australia where I lived out of my single suitcase! It’s surprising how few clothes we actually need!
e+a: Still on the topic of fashion, what are some of the top things we should keep in mind when it comes to our closets?
CT: When it comes to sustainable fashion, I don’t think the answer is to deprive yourself from clothes and shopping, but to be intentional with the shopping decisions you make and to be a conscious consumer. Fashion can be so fun and is such a great creative outlet, but it can also be so harmful to the environment and to the people who create the garments. We can be intentional, conscious consumers by first considering what we already own, asking ourselves if we really need it, and then from there making a conscious choice that fits our budget and lifestyle.
One of the first things to do when you decide that you “need” an item is to shop secondhand. This can mean secondhand shopping in the traditional sense through thrifting or going to vintage stores, or you can also shop your friends closets, your parents closets, whoever! I personally like to shop my sister’s closet! This is also a great way to save money on those one time wear kind of pieces like wedding guest dresses.
If you are going to purchase new, try to shop from a sustainable and ethical brand. An obvious sign that a brand truly cares about ethical manufacturing, supply chain, and sustainability is that it will be very clear and transparent in their messaging. It shouldn’t be vague or hidden amongst a paragraph full of industry buzz words. If it isn't obvious, you can reach out and ask whatever questions you have. Usually a brand that cares about sustainability and ethics will respond.
I know that ethical and sustainable brands aren’t always the most affordable, so if you do need to purchase a piece, purchase based on material and fit. Look for high quality pieces made from strong, durable materials that you love and will wear for years. This is actually where I started at the beginning of my sustainability journey before I began learning about all the different sustainable and ethical brands.
e+a: Were there any books, blogs or podcasts that helped you when you started your sustainable living journey?
CT: Most of the information that helped me when I started my sustainable living journey was through the internet. Two particular people I love to watch and who are also so informative are Verena Erin from My Green Closet and Christine from Simply By Christine.