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In Conversation With


16 Jul 2020

We caught up with one of our good friends and super talented artist Tori Ratcliffe. Tori has always been an inspiration to us from her breathtaking art which she creates to raise money for wildlife conservation charities of which she has raised £13,500 so far to her rescuing a dog from across the world to give him a loving home with her (check out her Instagram to see how cute Spud is).  Tori is always doing good for the planet and inspiring us. This year she’s only buying secondhand / vintage clothes all year to do her bit to help reduce so many clothes going to the landfill each year. We caught up with her to hear more about this and what actions she’s taking in her life to live more sustainably (I think we can all take note!

Why have you chosen to only buy second hand this year?

My shopping habits changed when I became more informed about the reality of ‘fast fashion’. Modern clothes are made with cheap materials and cheap labour, designed to only be worn a couple of times before they are thrown away. As a result of this, we are sending around 11,000,000,000 pieces of used yet still wearable clothing to landfill every year in Briton alone! That blows my mind. I just keep thinking of it all just sitting there, not going anywhere because the fabric doesn’t biodegrade (a lot of cheap fabrics involve types of plastic). It’s such a waste, in this day and age we really can’t afford to be living like that. Reusing, borrowing or buying second-hand/vintage are easy solutions!

Was there one thing that made you change your view and take action?

Earth ‘over-shoot’ day falls earlier each year. This is the day when we have used the maximum amount of our planets resources that it is able to regenerate in a year. Each year, it falls earlier and earlier. last year we reached it in August, which means for the last 4 months of 2018 we were eating into 2019’s quote. Eventually we just aren’t going to have the resources to meet our planet’s needs, and then life is going to start getting really uncomfortable. Reusing what we already have is paramount to resolving this, and shopping second hand is a huge step solution given that the textile industry is the 4th biggest polluter on our planet.

How are you being sustainable in the rest of your life?

I am constantly on a journey to become more sustainable in the way I live my life, it’s been a long journey starting from when I first learned about climate change aged 12 up until where I am today. You don’t have to flip your life round in one go, you just start small and adapt bit by bit. I slowly started giving up single use plastics, I have a compost bin for food scraps, I buy most of my furniture second hand and even my curtain fabric is all linen because it’s natural and built to last. I also do a lot of fundraising through my work for various wildlife conservation charities. Protecting our planets forests and other wild spaces is of upmost importance when it comes to securing the future of our planet, we can’t just keep taking things out from the planet, we have to start putting things back.

Where do you shop for your second hand clothes?

Not long ago I discovered the joy of the app Depop which has honestly made buying second hand clothes a piece of cake because you can literally search for what you want! There’s so many nice things on there. However, I have noticed that many items are listed as “never worn” or “only worn once” and that does again demonstrate the fast-fashion trend where people are buying without thinking. It’s a very wasteful mindset. That’s why I love vintage shops like the Hippie Shake, because it’s about the longevity of clothing, the antidote to this ‘throw away’ culture.

What small changes do you think people can action which will make a big difference? 

Just start with one thing – buy a resuable coffee mug, try Meatless Mondays, buy a few pieces of clothing second hand. Make changes step by step, it can’t happen overnight but it does need to happen. Educating yourself is key, reading up on the reality of climate change or the negative impact of the textile industry – it’s all good motivation to help you make changes and allows you the opportunity to educate others. Starting the conversation with friends and family and being vocal on your social media is just as important. We have to make talking about this stuff the norm – at the moment most people just don’t want to think about it.

What upsets you most about the current world we live in? 

I think it’s the attitude that a lot of people have when it comes to issues like climate change. I think so many of us feel disempowered, we are informed about what’s happening but we just don’t feel like there’s anything we can do, and the reality of it is too much for us to want to even want to think about it. We need people to feel inspired and motivated – with this comes change!

Do you think there’s a positive movement and change happening as people become more aware of today’s issues? 

I genuinely think there is, certainly with the younger generation who seem to be a lot more eco-aware. I think the older generation can’t be bothered with a lot of it, they certainly seem to be a lot more narrow-minded about issues like climate change – their response to the current Youth Strike movement started by Greta Thunberg demonstrates this.

Is there anyone / anywhere you look to for advice for how to live a more sustainable life? 

I follow some really good instagram accounts, and since I find myself on there everyday it’s a great daily dose of motivation! My favourite is Venetia Falconer because her whole vibe is so energetic and positive and that’s so important because positivity is what engages us and allows us to feel inspired to make change. She really motivates me to be more sustainable in the way I live, she doesn’t define herself with any labels (like “zero-waste” for example) she just promotes ‘conscious consumption’ which I think is such an achievable mindset for anybody to follow. In addition, I’m in a whatsapp group with some friends and some of my instagram followers who wanted to join me for Plastic Free Week which we did by ourselves in January. The groups has stayed active and we now use it to discuss environmental news and to share eco tips which is great it’s like a little support group filled with like minded individuals!

If you could solve one issue in the world what would it be?

 I would absolutely halt the destruction of our natural wild spaces. Habitat loss is one of the main reasons we are experiencing a mass extinction of our wildlife. By damaging and destroying our ecosystems we are only hurting ourselves – for example we are destroying coastal mangrove forests in countries like Indonesia because we want to build beach huts and shrimp farms, ignoring the fact that Mangroves store 3 to 5 times more carbon than rainforest, support a huge amount of wildlife and can even reduce the impact of tsunamis by absorbing some of the waves energy. Thank goodness for wildlife conservation charities who are working their socks off to protect areas like this, we just have to wait for the rest of the world to catch up!
Instagram: @toriratcliffeart
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