Through fashion, tourism and blogging, these inspiring planet savers prove going green can be a way of life for all.
When Eliza quit her job as a graphic designer in an advertising firm five years ago, she had become weary of promoting products she didn’t believe in. Together with Wuen and another co-founder, Kelly Hotta-Moung, they set up Touch The Toes (TTT), a multi-label store along Haji lane retailing sustainable fashion and yoga items. “TTT was born out of an exhilarating 30-day yoga fund-raising challenge, where our teacher inspired us towards ‘seva’, or service for the betterment of society,” says Wuen, “Coupled with a personal green outlook on life, our little vanity project took off!”
“We aim to make sustainable products fun, quirky, informative and more accessible at the same time,” Eliza says. “living an eco-conscious lifestyle starts with being less attached to stuff and creating less trash by taking pleasure in owning less and being ultra-mindful when you make every purchase.”
Going Back To The Roots
Their store carries only environmentally-friendly brands they’ve carefully selected from asia to the US and Europe, ranging from organic cotton clothes to yoga mats made out of recycled plastic bottles. “We try to balance four factors in a product: They’ve got to be eco-friendly, ethical, functional and well-designed. Sustainable fashion shouldn’t feel like a chore; it should be fun without sacrificing your personal style,” Eliza adds. The space also has a workshop area, where they plan to hold a variety of yoga classes, fashion and sustainability events that are both educational and fun for consumers.
Beyond selling sustainable fashion, the team also hopes to bring eco-consciousness and transparency to the forefront of the fashion world. “Sustainable fashion is about knowing the material you wear, but also how it was made,” Eliza says. “Our clothes are made by people who are like us, with families, worries, feelings, and whose eyes get tired from working long hours. Once people can identify with the issue and the story behind the clothes, they buy not just the clothes but an eco-lifestyle too.”
It all started with a love for the ocean, a poignant documentary and a serendipitous encounter with a whale shark. “I was very emotionally moved [while watching Sharkwater], seeing images of sharks being killed or having their fins cruelly cut off before being thrown back into the water still alive,” Kathy recalls.
In 2011, the avid diver found herself snorkelling alongside a whale shark in the waters of Exmouth, australia, a chance event which propelled her to quit her job as a teacher of seven years and dive headfirst into marine and shark conservation. “I decided I couldn’t be a hypocrite to my students any longer, just talking about conservation but not doing anything about it,” she says.
Her first order of business was building The Dorsal Effect, an ecotourism project that works with fishermen in Lombok, Indonesia, to end shark fishing by providing them with alternative livelihoods. instead of fishing for sharks, they take tourists on snorkelling trips to see the beautiful creatures up close.
But it wasn’t all smooth-sailing. “Contrary to popular belief, talking to the shark fishermen wasn’t the hardest part; in fact, it was the easiest. The hardest part was starting something from scratch without any prior business knowledge, but with a lot of emotions,” Kathy says. “Finding the balance was, and still is, a great challenge, but I’ve met good people along the way who have helped me by sharing their experience and marketing or business expertise!”
Influencing The Future
“I used to get very angry talking to skeptical people who would scoff at me for saving sharks, no thanks to the negative image of sharks they’d cultivated from movies like Jaws,” she says.
“However, I now channel my attention more towards children and teenagers who are much easier to influence and spread the message to. Giving shark and marine conservation talks to young people in schools and institutions really invigorates and excites me, especially when I see the spark of curiosity for the oceans in their eyes. I believe the future of the world lies in the future generation, and I hope to inspire them to take action in their own ways. I guess you can’t take the teacher out of me after all!”
Before she became an eco-lifestyle guru teaching busy women and mums how to live healthier, greener lifestyles, Militza lived a regular city life. “I was constantly moving from one thing to the next – working, shopping, running around – feeling a little lost in it all. Until one day, I fell into natural living,” says the mother-of-two.
To be more precise, she discovered one morning that the baby products she had been using for her daughter was reported to contain harmful chemicals. “it stopped me right in my tracks,” she says, vowing there and then to begin using safe, organic products for her family.
Believing that everyone should have access to safe, effective and natural skincare, she was driven to DIY her own products and share her creations with others. Ergo, little Green Dot was born in 2011. “My passion is teaching people how to make really great natural skincare at home. I teach a workshop called SIMPLIFY Skin, where we use whole food ingredients like oats, plant oils and fruit to make natural skincare products,” she says.
The Beauty Of Creating
Green living didn’t come as second nature to her but Militza was determined to learn, investing lots of time researching ingredients and experimenting with different methods, while juggling a job and a family with young children. “I made it work by focusing on simple recipes that can be created in five minutes or less, using ingredients that most people can find in their kitchen pantry,” she says. “and if you love the idea of creating a home that’s intentional and peaceful, and a life that’s meaningful and positive to the world, small steps will get you there.”
“Knowing how to make something good, that nourishes your body – it’s a life skill. Even in this modern world of fast convenience, knowing how to care for yourself well and sustainably, to provide safer options for your family is important for anyone,” Militza advises. “People often think [living green] is a burden or a chore, but there is nothing more gratifying, fulfilling and inspiring than living the life that you envision for yourself.”
PHOTOS: ELIZA INOUE & WUEN LIN TAN, CAROLINE PANG, DENICA FlESCH OF SUKKHACITTA/123RF.COM