Each month we post conversations we have with cool people who live mindfully whether it’s living with less or being healthy without doing harm to others. This is not an interview series but more a down-to-earth catchup over a casual cup of tea.
Today we catch up with Lindsay Miles, passionate writer behind Treading My Own Path.
We’ve been following Lindsay’s blog for a little over a year now and love her tips on how to how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Sustainability is an area we wish to improve in our lives so our chat with Lindsay came at a great time!
In this conversation, we learn about why Lindsay is so interested in sustainability, why she started blogging, and the value of being part of a community.
If somebody asks you what you do for a living, how do you typically respond?
I’ve always hated that question!
I guess because when I used to work in retail management way back, I never felt like it was the right fit for me.
But today I’d say I’m a sustainability educator. It’s not a full time job. It’s a collection of little things. I’ve been lucky enough to grow a reputation in Perth in the zero waste movement. As a result, I’ve been able to run sustainability workshops that are paid for by the local council.
I’ve also got a book on my website which I sell. None of these things are full-time income but it’s been able to fund all of the other things I like to do.
On your about page you’ve got quit a few personal commitments that you’ve made e.g. simple living, clean eating, ethical consumption and community. When did you start developing all of these values?
Even when I was a young kid, I’d always been into waste. I remember going through the rubbish bins and telling my parents that they should be recycling items. I also remember being really into sustainability in high school.
When I heard about plastic-free July in 2012 it was when I first started thinking about how I could take action instead of being one of those people that complained about the government, supermarkets and any other external sources. Prior to that, I remember thinking, “people should do that”, or “organisations should change”. But I never did anything myself to change.
So plastic-free July was my big realisation that we could make a difference as individuals if we could just start and do something. So that was my big epiphany.
With the simple living thing, it happened around the same time. I moved from England to Australia in 2011.
I think I started realising that all this stuff I had accumulated wasn’t really necessary.
At the time I had just gone through a break up and I wanted to get rid of everything. I suppose I didn’t make the link with minimalism. I just knew I wanted less things.
Clean eating came from giving up plastic. You realise you can’t buy processed foods and all of that rubbish. Then you find yourself buying whole foods in bulk or going to the markets. And then you realise how delicious this food is and think, “what was I thinking!?”
However it’s also had it’s challenges. Glass is not recycled in Western Australia. So I realised that buying in glass is not all that practical.
In relation to community, plastic-free in July was it. But until I got involved with that I don’t think I ever really knew what community meant. I used to live in Bristol, England and it has always been considered to be a green and sustainable city. I used to think because I lived in Bristol, I was already part of a sustainable community, which clearly wasn’t the case at all.
So when I moved to Perth I was trying to connect with like-minded people and that’s when I saw the plastic-free in July campaign. I started going to events and the more I started to see the benefits. I realised that all of this was bigger than myself, and that’s what community is.
When and why did you start a blog?
I started in March 2013.
I started blogging to document my journey in plastic-free in July. I thought that nobody was going to read my content and I can’t talk about plastic forever, so I stopped.
I had zero technical background and I was shy but I wanted to connect with other people. So I liked the idea of writing as it was less intimidating than making videos. And I thought, “hey, I could write a journal.”
The first year I didn’t have my name on my blog. I was experimenting with being anonymous so I didn’t have to completely put myself out there. However I later realised that it makes it hard to connect with people without a name!
So once I revealed myself, things started to grow from there.
What have been some of the benefits of blogging?
When I first started my blog, I didn’t quite understand the idea of commenting, sharing and connecting with others.
People genuinely want to read your blog and you genuinely want to read theirs. And even though at times, it’s similar topics, it comes from a different perspective.
So community has been key to my blogging journey.
Do you feel that your relationships have changed as a result of your values. If so, how have you managed that?
I feel like I’m a better writer than I am a talker. I tend to get my point across better with the written word as opposed to talking and potentially mumbling up my message.
So I found that the blog was a good platform for friends and family to learn about the changes I was making without me having to necessarily explain it to them in a conversation.
It also helped that when I moved to Australia, I was pretty much connecting with like-minded people straight away. So I was growing and developing with others.
Over the years with your research have you found linkages between sustainability and animal cruelty?
In the 90s nobody knew what vegetarian was but now you can feel that veganism is becoming a really big movement.
I don’t eat meat. But way back before plastic, I always felt that I could never give up dairy. I think deep inside I knew it wasn’t a good industry.
When I started giving up plastic, I changed the way I cooked (not deliberately). I stopped buying cheese. Then I was experimenting making nut milks and keeping them in bottles. I looked around and realised that I was hardly consuming dairy anymore!
At that point I started to accept that giving up dairy is probably something I should of done before.
Whilst I had given up dairy, my husband hadn’t. Then he watched Cowspiracy and decided to give it up.
I wrote a blog post on how I’m plant-based but eat eggs because of B12. The vegan community showed up in the comments full force advising otherwise. I guess it’s that situation where you tell yourself things based on what’s portrayed in the media.
Even just killing 50% of the chicks that are born is crazy. That doesn’t work on so many levels.
We’ve seen you talk about a film called Bag It, can you tell us a little about it?
Even though it’s been around for 6-7 years, I really think it’s one of the best documentaries about sustainability and waste. It’s got lots of facts but is also funny. You follow the journey of this average guy who gives up plastic.
It’s really relatable and as a result it made me increasingly aware of the problem.
In 2012, I gave up plastic bags and thought I was doing a great job. But it’s the little things you overlook. Even just going to the supermarket with your own bag to realise that half of the things you buy off the shelf are wrapped in plastic.
So Bag It opened my eyes to the issues and made me aware that I could do something.
Do you have any tips for people to get started the sustainable living?
Like any new change, it can be overwhelming at the start. So I recommend taking little steps.
Here are some quick actionable examples:
- Get a reusable water bottle or coffee cup. Very basic but you still see people buying bottled drinks off the shelf.
- Dine in rather than getting takeaway. Think about all of the waste you contribute towards when you get takeaway. Considering all of the plastic cutlery, packaging and bags!
- Go to the farmers markers instead of the supermarket and take your own bags.
- Have conversations with people who trying to do similar things. Facebook groups are a great resource.
So start small. Do one thing, then do another thing. And keep going!