Water bottles, iced coffee cups, picnic supplies…it’s no surprise that summertime brings global awareness around waste, plastic use and how we are interacting with the outdoors. For Plastic-Free July, we wanted to chat with our favorite source of wisdom on sustainability—Sustainably Aimee.
Aimee, is a social media consultant and expert on sustainability practices. She also happens to be our founder, Rachel’s twin sister. She passionately shares this knowledge with businesses who are looking to up level their social media strategy and working to “kick wasteful habits.” We love her for this (and for so much more!) and we think you will too, so let’s dig in.
1. We’re so excited to chat with you, for those who don’t know you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
My name is Aimee, and I work as a social media consultant and sustainable lifestyle content creator helping people reduce plastic waste and live with less. I have two businesses under Sustainably Aimee, I use my own platform on social media to help people reduce waste and live more in line with the planet with their habits while also helping individuals with their own social media strategy.
2.We’re suckers for stories here in the studio. Can you share a bit about the origins of Sustainably Aimee, when you got started and what inspired you to learn more about sustainability and educate others on the topic?
My story started when I was living in Sydney, Australia 2015-2018 where I fell in love with the ocean. The waters are incredible and one day in 2017 I had a photoshoot on the beach where I physically had to move plastic waste to use the beach. That was my “aha” moment.
I began researching why our waste had escalated so quickly and how we could help. I knew I wanted to change my ways and help others do the same. I told my current social media audience that I was transitioning to sustainable living and if they wanted to stay, then great. If not—I was happy for them to leave. I then began to share little tips I was learning and how I was transitioning into a less wasteful lifestyle. That rebrand also showed other businesses and individuals how I successfully use social media and show up authentically each day without the overwhelm.
3. In honor of Plastic-Free July, we wanted to chat with you about sustainability and entrepreneurship, two things that are very central to your life. Can you share a bit more about your mission? Also, can you explain what Plastic-Free July is?
Yes! And this is incredibly fitting because in 2018, I participated in my first Plastic Free July challenge to reduce waste. You can read about how mine went here. Plastic Free July is an international challenge for 1 month to help individuals reduce single-use plastic habits. Every individual can join the challenge to audit their plastic habits and take steps to reduce them.
My mission with Sustainably Aimee is that I want people to know they don’t have to give up luxury living when choosing to live a low-waste life. By being more conscious about your habits you end up appreciating things more and living a more intentional life; less truly is more in the long run.
4. Sustainability is a huge buzzword these days and it’s no secret that a lot of people and brands talk a big talk and their actions don’t match. How can we distinguish greenwashing from the real work being done?
It’s important to do your homework when seeing if a brand is actually taking ethical and sustainable approaches to its products or just joining in with trendy words. There are a few questions we can ask:
Can you source the materials being used?
Who makes the products?
Are there concrete facts and figures to support them giving back to the planet?
Is there a third party backing them up? (Is it a fast fashion brand but has 1 sustainable line?)
Are they a part of any environmental certifications? (B CORP, 1% For the Planet, Certified Organic, LEED, Leaping Bunny, etc.)
Don’t be afraid to get curious. Trust your gut.
5. We know a lot of your work is about small swaps individuals can make in their daily life to be more eco-conscious but what about entrepreneurs? How can business owners create more sustainably-minded brands? What is your advice on how to get started?
The first thing I tell anyone to do with reducing waste in their life is to start by auditing their current habits. What areas of the business do you see an opportunity for improvement? Here’s some quick tips on where to start:
Use fair-trade, natural ingredients
Ship in plastic-free packaging
Donate/ support environmental initiatives
Encourage green activities with your employees
Confirm you’re using energy efficiently (LED lights, water use, etc.)
Have a sustainable business audit and see how you score
Make your client base inclusive and representative of the whole population.
These decisions all take into account ethics, sustainability, and being more environmentally conscious for the long term.
6. Do you have any resources or recommendations on where someone could start educating themselves on living a more sustainable lifestyle?
7. Making the commitment to live a less wasteful lifestyle can be challenging. What are some obstacles you’ve had to overcome or are currently experiencing and how have you weathered those challenges?
1. Saying no if I don’t need/use an item. Just because it’s sustainable doesn’t mean I need it. Reducing waste was the goal and because I work as a sustainable content creator doesn’t mean I need to partner with every single item/brand.
2. Finding the balance between constantly trying to be more environmentally friendly and also accepting that we sometimes can’t avoid it. Many places still use disposable products. I try to give myself grace to make changes where and when it’s possible, this is better than shaming myself and others about what we can’t avoid.
3. Taking a break from social media is SO important to me as a content creator and manager for other accounts. I have to give myself a break so I stay mentally grounded and balanced and avoid doom scrolling.
“…I try to give myself grace to make changes where and when it’s possible, this is better than shaming myself and others about what we can’t avoid.”
8. What about the good stuff, what would be on your entrepreneur highlight reel?
I’ve had the opportunity to partner with some incredible companies and I love seeing people take on better habits. My favorite moments are when I hear from individuals that they are finding my content inspiring and helpful for them to reduce waste and live more sustainably. I want people to see that these changes aren’t scary. The conversations I have with my community are what inspire me to keep showing up and are the best wins.
9. Can you share a bit about the evolution of your brand with us, how it’s changed and how you’ve pivoted throughout the years?
When Instagram came on the scene in 2009, I was an influencer just posting the highlight reel, because I was using my page to highlight my modeling work. I quickly realized that that wasn’t me at my core. I hated it and would ask myself ‘what am I sharing that’s valuable to my audience?’ When I pivoted to reducing waste, I stopped caring about the likes and followers and focused more on the conversations I was having with people. I would share tips from my own life with regard to my sustainable journey, how I was making changes, what I was reading, listening to, where I struggled…so people felt connected to my own journey and sharing theirs.
Now, I share sustainable living with regard to reducing waste in daily life—favorite products, conversations, places to try plant-based meals, how to travel more waste-free, and also where I still use plastic and why it’s okay. I’m not perfect and I don’t claim to be, showing up as authentically you is better than perfect.
I tell my clients with their own social media pages too, don’t focus on getting “followers,” focus on the conversations you’re having with your current audience. That’s where the true influence happens and the audience growth will come.
“I’m not perfect and I don’t claim to be, showing up as authentically you is better than perfect. “
10. We know you just did a beautiful site update. Can you share what you have coming down the pipeline in your business? What should we be keeping an eye out for?
Yes, I’m so excited about my new website. I wanted a place where people could read more about my services in both content creation and social media consulting. If you’re needing help with your social page you can read more about those services and see past work. More will come to this new website like Plastic-Free Consulting but for now I’m really happy with these two areas of my business.
11. What is some advice you’d give to someone looking to live more sustainably but is overwhelmed by where to start?
Pick one area and start. Don’t focus on being perfect! Focusing on little swaps at a time when you run out of something. And, DO NOT throw something away because it’s plastic. That’s actually more wasteful. Use up what you have first.
Also, If you have friends or family who want to also reduce waste, make changes together; we’re better together and it can be less overwhelming, too.
12. We’d love to know, how do you stay inspired and creative in your business? If you have any book or music recommendations, we’re all ears!
If you would like to understand our waste problem more read A Waste Free World, by Ron Gonen. I love listening to music and my latest is Aesthetic on Spotify. But I try to also allow myself time away from the creative space so I don’t get over stimulated with content. So walks out in nature, phone breaks, and sunshine are my favorite ways to recharge.
13. Anything else you’d like to add?
When it comes to sustainability and social media, start by asking yourself where you can make changes to better serve yourself and those around you. Don’t be afraid if you don’t have all the answers, just start and make adjustments as you go.
If you need help reducing waste, I work with tons of small brands and have discount codes here when you’re ready to replace a disposable item or habit.
14. Lastly, let us know where we can find you and stay connected!
You can find me on all social media channels (Pinterest, Tik Tok, Instagram etc.) as SustainablyAimee. Feel free to check out my website and if you need help with your low-waste journey or social media pages, let’s chat. Or just come say hi 🙂
Thank you, Aimee, for inspiring us to always remain mindful and intentional in business and beyond. We hope everyone has a beautiful, plastic-free summer season ahead and if you need any tips, you know who to ask!
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