Niomi Smart on how to live more sustainably
Wellness blogger Niomi Smart has been fighting the good fight, encouraging her 1.5m Instagram followers to live more sustainably for the good of the planet. Having just partnered with Holland and Barrett for their zero-waste week #ZeroWasteZeroWipes campaign to ban all single-use wet wipes from their stores, we sat down to talk about all things sustainable from conscious shopping to marine-friendly skincare.
What’s your definition of living sustainably?
I think it’s all about becoming a more conscious individual and choosing the most eco-friendly option that you can, really questioning whether you need that new item and considering the actions we take in our everyday lives.
Aside from being plant-based what’s the largest lifestyle change you’ve made to become more sustainable?
I would say shopping more sustainably. Buying new things can have a huge negative impact on the environment so just becoming aware of this and trying not to buy new things all the time. I make sure that I’m making use of the things I already have by upcycling them and becoming more familiar with sustainable brands.
Personally, what’s the one thing you struggle to cut out the most?
I would have to say is travel. Whether it’s in the UK or abroad I’ve realised how much harder it can be to be sustainable because things like water and food come in so much plastic. You just have to be really organised and make sure that you’ve packed a tote bag so that you don’t have to use plastic bags, that you have your reusable water bottle. In the bigger picture, if your flying, which causes a lot of carbon emissions, you can use a website called ClimateCare to offset your emissions there. The site estimates the emissions from your travel and gives you a small fee, around £5-10 for a short-haul flight, which goes towards charities and other initiatives that work on the environment.
What are some of your favourite ethical and sustainable brands?
There are so many! In terms of beauty, Caudalie is doing great things at the moment. They just brought out a suncare collection where they don’t have any of the nasty chemicals that damage our coral reefs and marine life. I’ve also just discovered a fashion brand called Kapara London, which supports children and women in India, providing jobs and teaching them skills in how to weave. They also provide equipment for children in schools so they’re a brilliant brand, and the clothing is absolutely beautiful as well. Adidas is also doing great things with their partner, Parley, which is all about saving oceans. They have a whole collection with Parley that is made from plastics that have been recovered from beaches and the ocean.
Do you support any specific sustainability charities or initiatives?
I created something called SmartSwap which is an initiative to encourage people to swap clothing rather than buying new pieces. It’s about slowing fashion down and I run events where I invite people to come along with clothes that they’re no longer loving. We display everything in a really beautiful boutique style and have a couple of drinks so it’s a really lovely event and the whole initiative is about sustainability within fashion.
Do you have any plans to give something up for Zero Waste week?
I’m giving up single-use wet wipes in favour of muslin cloths and cotton pads that Holland and Barrett sell now. It’s a really big one that I would love to see other people join in on.
How did your partnership with Holland and Barrett come about?
I’ve been shopping in Holland and Barrett for years, even before I moved to London and was living in Brighton. Since I got into this career of speaking about wellbeing online, Holland and Barrett has always been my go-to to recommend to people. They got in touch and we talked about their initiative to ban single-use wet wipes in stores and it just seemed like such a perfect and authentic partnership so I’m so pleased to be working with them on this initiative.
Why are wet wipes so detrimental to our environment?
So I was shocked to find out that 9.3 million wet wipes are flushed down the toilet in the UK alone every single day. When they are flushed down the toilet, not only are they clogging up the sewage system but they are also damaging marine life. By simply cutting out those wet wipes and using a muslin cloth instead is such a brilliant and simple thing to do. If everyone in the UK could do that it would have such an incredible knock-on effect.
Niomi Smart is a wellness blogger and ambassador for Holland & Barrett’s #ZeroWasteZeroWipes campaign, which aims to encourage people to stop using single-use wet wipes due to their impact on our oceans, and replace them with more sustainable alternatives.