Anna Audare, a second-year Contemporary Communication student from Liepaja, Latvia, is interested in sustainability and eco-friendly lifestyle and is always willing to share her knowledge with others. Anna is a part of the LCC Habits Club, which helps students be more aware of environmental issues and helps the community become more eco-friendly and live a sustainable lifestyle. What are the challenges of living eco-friendly? How to start? And why is it important? Anna answered all of these questions and shared her insights on how you can change your lives for the better.
Anna, you are promoting a sustainable and healthy lifestyle. Where does your interest in an environmentally friendly lifestyle come from?
It started when I was still in high school. First, I became a vegetarian, then vegan, and after that, I discovered more about these lifestyles. For example, veganism is not only about health benefits and saving animals, but it is also about the environment as it’s thought that animal farms are one of the main contributors to climate change. I watched some YouTube videos and documentaries which made me realize how great the problem is. After that, I started to research on my own and decided what I could do to improve the situation.
You are a part of the LCC Habits Club. Could you share about the club, its purpose, and what the club does to make LCC more eco-friendly?
In our club we are trying to make students become more aware of environmental issues; telling them why it is important for us to do something about it, and helping students live a more sustainable lifestyle. We put recycling containers in the dormitories and are currently planning events and workshops to give students practical knowledge and skills to be environmentally friendly. Additionally, we are developing a student newspaper on campus. I am planning to have a newspaper section about sustainability where I will share some tips, easy vegan recipes, research, and other ideas that might be helpful for others.
Speaking of videos, you also have a YouTube channel where you share your experience of living environmentally friendly. How did you come up with the idea to vlog your experiences and share it with the Latvian audience?
It goes back to my high school years. I actually wrote my final high school project about student awareness on environmental issues. After the project, I organized some events in my hometown. We had interactive lessons and workshops with students, but I felt like I wanted to do more. This is why I created my own YouTube channel where I could document my journey. It is specifically produced in Latvian because I think there are not enough bloggers in my home country who discuss environmental issues. I like how people react to my videos. I was actually asked to do videos in English because more foreigners have become interested in my experiences as well.
More people around the world are trying to adapt to a more sustainable lifestyle. What challenges will one face when adjusting to this new lifestyle?
Every day we make choices, and some we are not always aware of. Sometimes people have good intentions in mind, but in reality, only make things worse environmentally. For example, they throw away good plastic containers in favor of new glass ones. People think they need cute water bottles or beautiful containers to be eco-friendly. In this way, there can be a misconception that it is expensive to be sustainable. Eco-friendly lifestyle is not about buying more sustainable things, but instead it is about using what you already have. It is amazing if you can afford things like metal straws, but it is not necessary to buy them. At the beginning of the process, people are embarrassed to ask others to put food into their own containers or use their own mug in a coffee shop. There is a fear of rejection or judgment from friends or people around, but later it gets much easier and more comfortable.
Anna, you live in a dorm among your peers, and you can influence them one way or another. What about the older generations? Do you see them noticing the problems the world faces?
I talked to my parents and we decided in our home we would recycle, reuse containers, and shop with our own tote bags. Also, my parents try to cook more vegetarian food, not only for health reasons but for environmental as well. Coming back to my high school years, my teachers were participating in workshops and classes that I led, and afterward said that such classes that were needed as part of the school curriculum. I have noticed that a lot of adults are also watching my YouTube channel, so I hope I am able to influence older generations as well.
What would you advise someone who is making the first steps to become more environmentally friendly?
First, accept that you will not immediately do it perfectly. It is easier to start with small steps like shopping with your own bag or using your own coffee mug in coffee shops. Step by step you will become more comfortable, you might try to make your own toothpaste, switch from bottled shampoo to a shampoo bar, or even try “Meatless Monday.” Patience and motivation are really important for beginners. Remember it is not a failure if you can learn from it. You may forget your bag or reusable cup, but next time you will remember to put them into your backpack, just in case. I faced this too when I switched to a vegetarian diet.
Secondly, research for yourself. There are a lot of useful videos for beginners., Think critically and be open to the challenges of a new lifestyle, in the end, you will be able to make an impact globally, even if it starts out by taking things slow.