SUSTAINABLE SISTAS: ANITA VANDYKE
Sustainable Sistas is a blog series celebrating women who run sustainable and ethical businesses or are doing important work for sustainable causes. We find out what sustainability means to them, challenges they face, what drives them and what they hope sustainability will achieve. Please contact us here if you would like to be featured or know a lady doing amazing work.
We have been virtual mates with Anita way back when we first started Urban Granola in 2015, she even guest blogged here a few years ago. Anita is a very impressive and generous person, her popular Instagram account @rocket_science shares her passion, knowledge and adventures with zero waste living. She has recently launched her very own website to help spread the zero waste message further. We thoroughly enjoyed Anita's answers and we hope you do too!
When you started your Instagram account @rocket_science, what was your motivation and vision? It’s really struck a cord, did you ever expect it to be so popular?
My Instagram account started as just a visual diary of the changes I was making to transition towards a zero waste life. I was struck by the damage that plastic pollution was having in our oceans and I felt overwhelmed with scary climate change statistics. The easiest place was to start with my home, by starting small, I finally felt in control of these seemingly ‘out-of-control’ issues.
Ha, ha – I didn’t ever to expect it to grow so much, it started with some dimly lit photos of plastic containers and it has grown to 14,000 followers! I think for me; I have always tried to be authentic and positive. We have so much negativity in the world, my Instagram account was a place for me to show that small positive changes can make a huge cumulative difference.
You’re an aerospace engineer, turned medical student and now soon to be author. How did this amazing career path come about?
My goodness – thank you for the kind words. I have always been a very driven person with a passion for the stars. As far as I can remember I always wanted to be an Aerospace Doctor so I could study the effects of space travel on the human body. I lost myself to the corporate world for a few years, but now I feel like I am finally living in alignment with my values. My goals for the future is just to be of service - to myself, the people around me and to the environment. I may or may not realise my dream of becoming an Aerospace Doctor, but I am learning to love the journey rather than to aim for a final destination.
I am SUPER excited about releasing my first book in June/July 2018 – which will be a practical and personal guide on living a zero waste life. It’ll be published under Penguin Random House Australia and I am so looking forward to sharing more tips and tricks about zero waste living with the world!
I think part of ethical and sustainable living is being kind to yourself, first and foremost. How do you unwind or practice self care?
Self care is the number one priority for me. I can’t care for my patients, care for my loved ones, or care for the environment if I don’t look after myself. I have a ‘joy list’ which are 5-10 things that are give me pure joy. They involve going to yoga, having a morning to myself in a café, going thrift shopping by myself. Whenever I feel my energy waning or I am feeling a bit down, I turn to my joy list and do one of these activities.
What does living sustainability mean to you? What are the challenges to living this lifestyle?
Sustainability means living in alignment with your values. It means leaving a gentler footprint on the planet. That’s it. I don’t try to define it too much because it means different things to different people.
I don’t think there are any real challenges, I just believe in doing the best you can. The biggest challenge is that I can no longer be blind to plastic pollution, rubbish everywhere and how consumerism has invaded every part of our culture. As they say, ignorance is bliss, but since I’ve educated myself on these important environmental issues, I can no longer ignore the state of our planet. It is empowering really.
You recently made the move to San Francisco after travelling between there and Sydney regularly. How has that been in terms of how you were living in Sydney. Is San Fran an easier city to be green in?
Sydney is always my home town, and I think it has really gained huge grounds in terms of bulk stores and sustainability goals. The City of Sydney Council are doing wonderful things such as composting workshops, e-waste recycling and having a ‘zero waste’ ethos.
San Francisco is a cool city; it is super welcoming city that embraces multiculturalism and has a great compost program in which the City collects all your food scraps and makes compost from it! This is great! I wish Sydney would do the same. Also, the thrift stores are insane here! Seriously, the best I’ve ever seen, I scored a cashmere Agnes B jumper, Maje wool sweater and Nike shoes today for less than US$8 a piece!
Do you have a personal philosophy or motto that guides you?
You do you! My friend from New Zealand taught me this expression, and it’s been my motto ever since. I try not to care too much what others think of me, and I’ve also let go of my own judgements. I truly believe everyone is trying their best – you do you!
What do you think the biggest challenges facing eco and sustainable Businesses are? What sustainable and ethical businesses inspire you?
I think the biggest challenge is the same challenge that everyone faces in business – how do we balance profits with people and planet. It’s hard to balance the financial realities with our moral obligations. My favourite brands who do this well are People Tree and Patagonia. I really love that they are so transparent and leading the way in terms of sustainable fashion.
What is your hope for the future in sustainability, positive?
My outlook is always positive! It has to be, when has negativity or hatred ever promoted long lasting change?
What are your favourite resources to read, watch or listen to that have helped inform your opinion on sustainable living, inspire you or offer an interesting perspective?
My favourite resources besides this wonderful blog are:
@thebroadplace Instagram page – Jacqui is my meditation teacher and she is the epitome of high grade living
foreign films – the latest being “Call me by your name” – I love French films in particular. Have you noticed the main characters all wear the same clothing again and again, none of this Hollywood ‘every scene has a different outfit’ – these women are real and have capsule wardrobes!
Minimalism books such as ‘Goodbye Things’ by Fumio Sasaki – there’s something so soothing about Japanese minimalism
What are some of your favourite quotes because everyone loves a good quote!?
My favourite quote is by the eternally wise Maya Angelou “When you know better, you do better”. Let’s all do better.