Hi Jen, Can you introduce us to Sustainable(ish)?
Sustainable(ish) is all about imperfect eco-action. It’s an online community, blog, podcast, and philosophy that tries to make ‘sustainability’ accessible for everyone. There’s no judgement, no preaching and no guilt, and it’s very much about encouraging people to get started with small steps that add up to make a difference when it comes to the planet and the climate crisis.
Brilliant, what inspired you to start?
Back in 2012/13 I rather naively decided it would be a ‘fun’ challenge to spend a year buying nothing new as a family. I thought we were already pretty green as were diligently doing our recycling each week, but hadn’t really joined the dots between the things we buy and the impact they were having on the planet. It was a real eye opener, and changed not just how and where we shop, but how I see my place in the world. It helped me to recognise the huge power that I have (that we all have) as individuals – our choices and our voices are more powerful than we know.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in those early days?
When I first started blogging to document the year buying nothing new, the biggest challenge was probably the tech and getting my head around social media. I’m really not very technically minded, but with the help of endless internet searches I managed it in the end.
What has been your greatest achievement?
Having my books published! The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide came out in Jan 2020, and The Sustainable(ish) Guide to Green Parenting came out in March this year, both published by Bloomsbury. Having a science background, I never really saw myself as a writer, and would never have imagined even 10 years ago that I would have written and published two books.
Congratulations! How has coronavirus pandemic impacted what you do, what lessons have you learned?
When the first lockdown happened it took me a long time to figure out whether or not it was still ‘ok’ to talk about sustainability and the climate crisis when everyone was so consumed by this much more present and immediate threat. But as things settled down, I realised that there very much was still an appetite for content, and in May 2020 I ran the first ever Sustainable(ish) online festival, with 40 talks, panel discussions and workshops, and over 2500 attendees.
It’s also meant that any talks I do have now all moved online, which actually suits me much better, meaning I don’t have to worry about childcare logistics and can still reach people from my study at home!
What is the most rewarding thing about running Sustainable(ish)?
Hearing from people when they’ve made changes. One of the things I say at the end of every talk I do is “nothing changes if nothing changes”. I can write books, churn out podcasts and blogs and social media posts, but ultimately I can’t make people change. Hearing that they’ve been inspired to make a start, or to make another change after hearing something I’ve written or said is definitely what keeps me going!
What’s coming up next for you?
My focus for the rest of this year will be on publicising the new book, and growing the Knackered Mums Eco Club, which is my membership group providing support and resources for knackered mums (and dads, and aunts and nans!) to get started with all things sustainable(ish).
I’m also starting up a 6 week online course – Sustainable(ish) for absolute beginners, and also hoping to run some carbon literacy training.
Sounds great. Where can people find out more?
The website is www.asustainablelife.co.uk and I’m @sustainableish on social media!