The top sustainability influencers to follow on Instagram: From veganism to plastic-free living – The Independent

the-top-sustainability-influencers-to-follow-on-instagram:-from-veganism-to-plastic-free-living-–-the-independent

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I

t can be difficult to navigate a sustainable lifestyle, especially when just starting out.

With dozens of influencers advocating “veganism” and “eco-friendly” travel plans, some might be left feeling a little overwhelmed, but it’s never been more important to begin living more sustainably.

In December, the UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) set out in detail the steps we will need to take over the next 30 years in order to effectively end Britain’s contribution to the climate crisis.

Almost every aspect of British life will need a complete overhaul, from the cars we drive, to what we eat and the products we buy, if we are to meet the target of net-zero emissions by 2050, according to the government’s climate advisers.

If you’re looking for some inspiration on social media, here’s who to follow for the best advice on how to do your bit for the environment, with tips on slow fashion, vegan recipes and how to give up plastic for good.

Slow fashion: @emsladeedmondson

With a huge rise in slow fashion – that is, fashion that involves buying better quality garments that will last for longer – Emma Slade Edmondson’s Instagram offers bags of inspiration on how to make your wardrobe more ethical, all while still looking bang on-trend.

From renting clothes, to re-inventing what you already have and hunting for vintage steals in charity shops, Edmondson’s tips are practical and her background in retail, branding and marketing means she knows what she’s talking about.

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Edmondson also started Charity Fashion Live—a movement that re-creates London Fashion Week looks in real-time using only things found in a single charity shop. 

Speaking on her Instagram account, Edmondson said: “Wouldn’t it be cool if we made rewearing our clothes something we feel proud of, elated by even. We need to put down respect on it every time we see our friends and family doing it.

“When I see someone wearing something that I have seen them wear before I’m going to be intentionally saying things like ‘I love seeing you in that dress.’ Or ‘I love that you get so much wear out of that dress.’”

Fair fashion campaigner: @venetialamanna

Famed for her sustainability activism, Venetia La Manna gives expert guidance on everything from slow fashion to throwing a low waste wedding and why we shouldn’t be buying the charity “Stay Home” t-shirts advertised on Instagram throughout the pandemic.

Le Manna also founded the Slow Fashion Exchange on Facebook, which gives people a safe space to talk all things slow fashion as well as swapping clothes and ideas for campaigns, and uses her influence to call out large fashion brands on issues such as green-washing and fast fashion, including Missguided, Topshop and H&M.

Speaking to The Independent, Le Manna added: “Many fast fashion companies are run by billionaires who have proven time and again that they prioritise their fellow people at the top while consistently failing to pay their workers a living wage.

“No more excuses: we must consider the entire supply chain and rally for the rights of the people making our clothes – now, more than ever.”

Slow fashion: @ajabarber

Passionate on issues spanning body positivity and the misrepresentation of black women, American-born, London-based Aja Barber’s Instagram is filled with self-styled second-hand finds, as well as tips on how to re-style the same piece of clothing.

Her feed also raises awareness about fast-fashion in the news, as well as encouraging the hashtag #IGaveUpFastFashionBecause.

Barber is also a huge advocate of buying second-hand, and her tips on how to reduce your fashion consumption – while still staying stylish – are simple and easy to follow too, advising that you “find your personal style” and work from there.

Barber adds: “Second hand purchasing has always been a part of my life and it always will be.⁣⁣ I hate the stigma around second hand shopping so much…

“I hate that people ask me how I can afford this clothing and assume that I’m rich or well off because I like nice things. I’ve been acquiring these pieces for years and years. They were hunted, hard fought and won, each one with its own unique story.⁣”

Anti-plastic pollution: @lizzie_outside

An activist focused on fighting plastic pollution, Lizzie Carr founded @onplanetpatrol in 2016 with the hope of protecting the planet and wildlife from the increasingly dangerous amounts of litter we produce.

Originally a local network of people dedicated to cleaning up the planet, it has since grown to recruit volunteers all over the world to pick up plastic from rivers, beaches and parks, as well as raising awareness about the dangers of single use-culture.

Carr also uses her paddle boarding skills to pick up plastic along global waterways, and her Instagram is awash with volunteering opportunities, tips on cleaning up the environment and how to live plastic-free, such as using recyclable wrapping paper and non-synthetic clothing. 

Sustainable living: @blueollis

Whether it’s vegan recipes, sustainability hacks or how to make your own eco-friendly cleaning products, Blue’s Instagram is all about being an all-round ethical human being.

Her account offers handy instructions and inspiration on ways to upcycle or mend old clothes, grown your own herbs, give sustainable gifts to friends and family, and cook vegan treats such as lemon cookies.

She recently shared a DIY dry shampoo recipe with her 24.9k followers, which is easy on the environment and makes your hair smell like chocolate.

Green beauty: @veganbeautygirl

Having turned vegan in 2007, Whittle offers ethical, affordable and sustainable alternatives to your favourite beauty products across her social media platforms, including vegan and plastic-free lipsticks, fake tans, deodorants and foundations.

Speaking to The Independent, Whittle said: “We’re battling a climate crisis and the beauty industry is responsible for its part in over consumption, exploitative supply chains and harmful ingredients.

“I began exploring sustainable beauty as a way to ‘do my bit’ by making my own beauty routines more eco-friendly. Now, fortunately, there are so many incredible indie beauty brands setting new standards and prioritising ethics within their businesses. It’s something I’m hugely passionate about and I love sharing my findings with all of my followers.”

Climate justice activist: @mikaelaloach

Edinburgh-based Mikaela Loach is a medical student and climate activist, who has been nominated for the Global Citizen Prize: UK’s Hero Award.

With nearly 100,000 Instagram followers, Gregory uses her influence to support anti-racist movements as well as raising awareness about climate justice movements.

Through her Yikes! podcast alongside co-host Jo Becker, she breaks down the meaning behind concepts like “intersectionality” or “climate justice” and prior to the Covid-19 pandemic Loach regularly took direct action approaches like camping outside Westminster with Extinction Rebellion in October 2019, to demanding politicians listen and act on the climate crisis.

Speaking about her journey from ‘slacktivism’ – that is, minimal commitment to bringing about social change – to activism, Loach said: “Social media activism isn’t all that activism is. I do think it can be a real, important, accessible form of activism.

“The folks that you follow, the ones whose names you know, the folks who do public facing work: they aren’t doing the ‘best’ or ‘most important’ work. They’re just doing one type. The majority of organising – which drives real change – happens behind the scenes.”

Veganism: @madeleineolivia

Researchers at the University of Oxford recently found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by up to 73 per cent, meaning that turning vegan is a good place to start on your eco-friendly journey.

Based in Brighton, Madeleine Olivia’s social media accounts are a great source of vegan foodie inspiration if you’re not willing to scrimp on taste.

Shunning plain vegan dishes, Olivia shows her 83.2k followers how to make comfort food that is tasty and plant-based, such as her vegan mac and cheese, spiced apple loaf, and pumpkin pie with homemade chips.

Her YouTube channel – which has 500,000 subscribers – also has useful videos on how to recrate each dish with handy step-by-step guides, and her book, Minimal: How to Simplify Your Life and Live Sustainably, is out now.

Seasonal eating: @feedtheswimmers

The foodie influencer uses her social media account – which has 92.3k followers – to advocate for zero waste, environmentalism and sustainable eating, offering tips on how to cut down on food waste as well as seasonal recipes, including smoked salmon, cream cheese on homemade sourdough, and almond rainbow cookies with matcha.

Fergus says: “I am seasonally driven (I love the farmer’s market!), avoid processed foods and focus on whole and organic (mostly plant-based, but not exclusively) choices.

“In my home, my family has a variety of eating preferences from plant-based, gluten free, refined sugar free to full on omnivore.”

Climate change education: @queerbrownvegan

Los Angeles-based Isaias Hernandez is the creator of Queer Brown Vegan, where he makes accessible environmental education content based around veganism, zero-waste, and environmental justice.

With useful tutorials on topics such as “Is lab-grown meat sustainable?” and “What is conscious consumerism?”, Hernandez makes climate change conversations easy to tackle while raising issues surrounding diversity within the sustainability movement.

Speaking to Vogue, Hernandez said: “I created Queer Brown Vegan after realising that environmental education should be accessible for everyone. Through my lived experiences facing environmental injustices, and having a degree in environmental science, I wanted to create a safe space for people to talk about the planetary crisis.”

Green travel: @earthwanderess

Evelina Utterdah has been a freelance travel writer, blogger and climate activist ever since she quit her corporate day job.

Though much of her Instagram grid shows Utterdah standing in front of beautiful waterfalls, gorgeous beaches and impressive landmarks, she is seriously committed to sustainable travel – so much so that she travels without flying. 

Her inspirational account offers responsible travel tips such as eco-friendly hotels and campsites to vegan restaurants and eco-tourist ideas – like hiking, volunteering and kayaking.

Utterdah also offers advice on how to give up air travel, with guides detailing ways to travel across Europe without flying, as well as getting from Scandinavia to Ireland without setting foot on a plane.

Speaking to The Independent, Utterdah said: “When I began researching how high plane emissions are, I was confused why no one was talking about it, or acting on it.

“And because people are literally already dying from effects of the climate crisis, I just could not justify my flying anymore so I decided to quit the very same day. Now I enjoy traveling way more and I no longer take it for granted. I’ve stated looking closer to home rather than as far away as possible. It’s madness how I’ve been all around the world but never visited some of Sweden’s most beautiful places, like Gotland and the far north.”

Sustainability hero: @gretathunberg

From starting a school strike for climate change to urging the Swedish government to act on global warming, the 18-year-old is the queen of environmental campaigning and has since inspired millions to follow suit.

With more than 10.5 million followers on Instagram, she uses her account to post pictures of her campaigns and raise awareness about the on-going effects of global warming, as well as encouraging people to stay home during the global pandemic.

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