Whoever you are and whatever your background, it’s always easier to develop a more mindful, sustainable lifestyle when you find a personal trigger. From a health scare that led you to discover the troubling workings of the meat industry, to a wardrobe crisis that woke you up to the way fashion impacts the planet; once you’ve opened your ‘door’ and made those realisations, you can’t go back and unlearn.
For Nadia Kishlan (aka @skinnykatwoman) her door to mindfulness was the practice of yoga. This led her to become more alert and mindful about her habits in other areas of her life, including what she wore and ate. These lifestyle changes came naturally because they made her feel more alive and aligned with her personal values. As part of our #Down4Earth series, we caught up with the multi-hyphenate about her green journey, her passion for urban farming and why she believes the sustainability space should be a judgment-free zone.
Tell us about your sustainability journey. Why did it become important to you?
Around three to four years ago, I started to feel uneasy about the way I was consuming. I was continually having inner monologues about my impact on the planet. I continued this self-reflection through yoga and meditation. Slowly, I began to notice that the values I picked up from my practice no longer aligned with my old lifestyle habits.
I made a commitment to myself to change that; especially my relationship with fashion. I felt so liberated once I woke up from the materialistic culture around me and realigned my public platform to advocate for a life of purpose and awareness. It’s been such an uplifting experience, and I feel so energised by the community. Everyone is so supportive of each other’s journeys!
From your socials we can see you’re very into urban farming, personally and professionally.
I got involved with urban farming because I’ve always been a plant geek at heart and have been very inspired by the grow-your-own-food movement. I also realised that plant parents are just such positive people in general (really, if you need a pick-me-up just go to the Urban Farmers (Singapore) Facebook group, the messages there will make your day!). There’s also a growing need for countries to be more self-sufficient with their produce, because if we can source locally we also reduce our carbon footprint. So, I see so many exciting things to come in this space!
I felt so liberated once I woke up from the materialistic culture around me and realigned my public platform to advocate for a life of purpose and awareness.
And you now produce for Rooted, a new urban farming learning platform. What’s it all about?
Rooted is an urban farming learning platform dedicated to enabling anyone, anywhere to grow a little of their own food. We produce bite-sized interactive stories which give exclusive access to content like interviews with professional plant scientists, how-to videos with seasoned farmers on setting up growing mediums and even follow along demos on how to create a dish or drink using the edible plants you’ve grown! It’s currently only B2B at the moment as we pitch the service as being a great fit for a company’s corporate wellness program, but we’re working on getting more funding to make it accessible to the public.
How has working in the media shaped or affected your relationship with consumption?
My work involves me doing a lot of research before deciding on what stories to run. One common thing I pick up on is that urban farming is so rewarding, but requires a lot of patience. When you realise the time it takes to grow your food, you grow to respect the effort it took to produce it and avoid wasting it. I see parallels to this with how I approach conscious living and consumption, especially when it comes to fashion. By making more mindful decisions, I also take care to consider the amount of effort it took to produce a piece of clothing and treat it as a valuable item.
Do you feel Singapore has made progress in terms of green initiatives? Where do you feel it needs to go?
Yes, and especially so in the last two years. I find it a little slow as compared to other countries, but something is better than nothing. One of the great things I see gaining traction is the movement to bring your own containers or drink cups. I’m noticing more and more people doing this when I go out to various F&B outlets. It’s good that more people realise that single-use packaging is such a wasteful resource. This way, we can save the earth’s resources and more money by bringing our own reusables.
One way we can go further is by the simple act of awareness and education from young! If you’re a parent, teach your kids the value and importance of sustainability.
Another way on a more systemic level is by enacting policies to make companies accountable for the waste they produce. Right now, the responsibility to reduce waste has been heavily shifted to the consumer, but the reality is that companies are often causing a much more significant impact on the environment. Canada recently did a ban on six single-use plastic items. They created incentives for companies to use recycled plastic and forced plastic producers to pay for recycling. This is just one example of how significant action can be taken on a systemic level. We can learn and pick up so many ideas from other countries who are already doing a great job!
Right now, the responsibility to reduce waste has been heavily shifted to the consumer, but the reality is that companies are often causing a much more significant impact on the environment.
How do you feel individuals and brands can be more #Down4Earth?
Remember to be kind to yourself and take things one step at a time. Don’t judge yourself and don’t judge others. It’s ok to not know how to do something. The great thing is there’s lots of resources out there to help you! I find that it also helps to join communities to learn from others; so you don’t feel so alone in your sustainability journey. It’s totally possible to change our habits so that we can be better caretakers of Mother Earth.
#Down4Earth is a social awareness campaign launched by ZERRIN on World Environment Day 2021. The campaign features Singapore-based sustainability advocates with a passion for urban farming, circular fashion, composting and more. They prove that there’s more to sustainability than the quintessential 3 R’s and there’s something everyone can do. Discover more about the campaign. Photography, styling and production by ZERRIN STUDIO.
Susannah believes better design can help create a brighter future. A former magazine editor, she now runs ZERRIN and works at the intersection of consumers, brands and sustainability advocacy.