#MySustainabilityStory: Miriam Habtesellasie

Find out how members of the isla team 'live' sustainability away from their 9 to 5.

Here at isla we think it’s important to practice what we preach, so in this series we take a deeper dive into what sustainability really looks like on the ground for members of the isla team. This week we hear from our MarComms Lead, Miriam Habtesellasie.

Sustainability loves

Food: My own homemade vegan pesto slathered on everything from organic brown rice pasta to new potatoes.

Drink: I love kombucha and am hoping to start making my own at home. Fix8 is a brand I’ve recently discovered, and it’s perfect for those who don’t want too much of a vinegary aftertaste.

Fashion: I’ve got a £1 charity shop that’s a few mins from my flat so I’m always browsing for bargains there. I’m also a fan of clothes swaps. Beyond that I do treat myself to the occasional personal shopping session at Wimbledon Department store Elys, and try to ensure the edit of items chosen use sustainable materials.

Product/Service: Backmarket. I’ve recently snapped up a Google Pixel 5a after 14 years of clinging on to my ancient Motorola Moto G. It’s nice to know that the products I’m buying are refurbished so that less goes to landfill.

Location: So many spring to mind, but I felt that Amsterdam with its cycle network and cute cafes and pops of greenery felt like a really liveable city.

Resource: I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but the Happy Cow app.

Quote:Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards,” Soren Kierkegaard. Not directly related to sustainability but it speaks to the idea that sometimes we need to take action before we fully understand what the ramifications of that action will be for our future.

How do you ‘do’ sustainability in your own life?

I’ve been vegan for around 5 years and vegetarian since I was 7, so that’s one way I’m doing my bit for the planet. I’m also fanatical about recycling, despite my flat not having facilities to sort food waste etc. I’ll haul my soft plastics to Sainsbury’s and my paper and card to my mum’s down the road as she benefits from a special blue bin that you can only get in the borough if you have your own front door. I also have a litter picker, on long-term loan from a local charity Sustainable Merton, so have been known to do a sweep of my street, much to the bemusement of neighbours and other onlookers.

As the daughter of African immigrants I’ve also been brought up with a minimalist mentality, so I never buy more than I need.

Are they any local sustainability initiatives that you’re excited about/have engaged with? 

There’s a local organisation called Go Inspire that’s doing really great things for community building and sustainability, including organising Wimbledon’s first sustainable fashion week later this month. I’ve attended some of their events and the founder Marina has amazing energy! Our local Library of Things and Community Fridge are also doing great things for reducing waste.

How do you connect to the natural environment?

Since the pandemic I’ve come to realise that I’m actually an outdoors person I used to think this was reserved for sporty types, seasoned hill walkers etc and feel really cooped up if I’m indoors for the whole day. I love a quick stroll and coffee around my local National Trust green space, Morden Hall Park – and have been known to partake in their yummy vegan scones as a reward for a 5-min walk 🙂 I’ve also recently discovered Beckenham Place Park, which I can get to via my local tram direct in 45 mins. It has a swimming lake, 96 hectares of grounds and of course that all important cafe. I’ve only been twice, but it feels a million miles away from London.

What one event that you attended really impressed you in terms of sustainability credentials and why?

I went to V2001 – yep that’s revealed my age – and while it may not have been advanced in terms of its sustainability credentials it was so small scale and considered compared to festivals of the same size today. I also attended Vegan Camp Out for the first time this July and while there was definitely room for improvement on sustainability, it was great to see combi generators featuring some solar panels, a 100% vegan F&B offering of course, pre-pitched tents from Circular Camping, water refill points and more.

What was your biggest aha moment when it came to climate change/the environment? 

I would say one of my aha moments came in the lunch hall at primary school. My brain made the connection between the meat on my plate and animals and I just couldn’t switch back after that. I also read a book called The Celestine Prophecy back in the 90s, which some may consider a bit ‘woo woo’, but it really emphasised in me the importance of protecting nature and nature’s ability to restore mind, body and soul.

Tell us something unusual about your sustainability journey

I attended a protest against animal testing in Trafalgar Square at the age of 10 along with a friend and her mum. Looking back on my old school reports at that time my teachers noted that I was concerned about the planet and I also remember drawing lots of ‘save the whales’ posters. Yep, I was that kid.

What’s on your sustainability to-do list?

I am borderline obsessed with the Tiny House/Van Life movement, so would love to build either one day (I’ve failed my driving test multiple times so it would probably be the former). It would be complete with a Nature’s Head composting toilet, solar panels, a water recycling system and that all important hammock for contemplating life with a cuppa in hand!

Read more:

                                                                                         My Sustainability Story: Jonathan Woodhouse

My Sustainability Story: Alex Camacho

My Sustainability Story: Malcolm Leach

My Sustainability Story: Susanna Zema

My Sustainability Story: Alex Schlacher

My Sustainability Story: Emily Shephard

My Sustainability Story: Megan Harris

My Sustainability Story: Kat Bednarczyk

My Sustainability Story: Rebecca Lardeur   


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