Text: Beth Mark
Photography: Sandra Freij
“I feel deeply that where there is more disparity of income, then more conflict is likely to follow. I feel every time you spend your money, you spend it on a vote for the future.”
founder of an online zero waste shop, Climate Reality leader, educator and mother of 2.
Surrounded by her husband and two children, aged 12 and 7, Vivina kindly took time out from her family holiday to talk to me. Describing the natural landscape of her surroundings, she remarks, "The beauty allows the weather to take a back seat” – very important during a UK staycation.
Originally from South India, Vivina worked in finance and accounting for a major bank. Since 2009, a combination of witnessing mass consumption, dangerous levels of pollution and the birth of her first child, Vivina decided to take environmental action. Step by step, she embarked on an earth-friendly transformation. Vivina takes great joy in telling me,
"I started very small – every year I had a goal to change something and it's been a constant progress since then. I started by avoiding the use of plastic bags. Now, when I look back, it's a trivial thing, but it went on to resonate to plastic bottles, to using eco-friendly products, to being plastic-free, to gardening, composting, learning more about climate change and even giving talks about it… even veganism happened.”
I asked Vivina about her main motivators, she remarks,
“Initially it was for the kids because I wanted a better future for them. It then grew into exploration and a thirst for knowledge. I was initially unaware of how much impact we were having, but with every progress, and with every conversation, I was able to move to bigger and more concrete changes…now I do it because it's the right thing to do. It gives me a lot of peace and love. I no longer need motivation; it has become a way of life.”
After seeing the positive impact of how knowledge influenced her to live a life in sync with nature, Vivina wanted to help others through education. She came across a course to become a Climate Reality leader and explains what drew her to the project,
“Climate Reality was founded and is run by Al Gore, the former US vice president. I joined to learn more about climate change, to have the information to educate others and apply it for myself. The training provided us with ten talks on activities and climate leadership, along with loads of resources to train us up to give talks in schools and public places. The information was all there and up to date so it became very easy – it was a good place to start.”
As a trained Climate Reality leader she developed her network, branched out and adapted her new expertise to co-found a project called Climate Ed, which focuses on educating school children about climate change, she explains,
“We moved to the six-week Climate Ed model to give children the best chance of understanding and absorbing the information. We began to understand consistency was needed. You can’t give a one-off talk and expect it to have a profound impact.”
As her youngest child hit school age and the requirement to get back into paid work increased, Vivina decided to start an online zero-waste business that enveloped the sustainable and ethical practices she preached. Vivina founded her online shop ‘Ecofully’ two years ago and explains her ethos behind the business,
“I come from a culture where we say don’t cook if you’re angry, because the vibes pass on to the food and to the person eating that food, meaning whatever you do in life you should do with love.
With this in mind, it was important to start a business where I understood the supply chain… if someone is manufacturing a product or providing a service without a feeling of acknowledgement or without being paid well, then I think that passes on to you eventually.”
Vivina takes great pride in knowing exactly where her products come from and how they’re made, making personally sure that people and planet are treated fairly throughout, but it wasn’t always this way…
She adds honestly,
“When I started off, I sold five or six of my products on Amazon, but when I learned that Amazon was not very ethical this needed to change - I wasn't prepared to support a company that was dividing the pay gap further. I feel deeply that where there is more disparity of income then more conflict is likely to follow. I feel every time you spend your money, you spend it on a vote for the future… that is not a future that I want for my children.”
Vivina now uses her online shop to inspire others to make ethical shopping choices, and uses her platform to raise awareness of subjects she holds close to her heart - minimalism and animal rights. She pretty much uses all aspects of her life to educate, from her customers to her friends; she tailors the conversation to suit.
“I like to customise my approach depending on whom I speak to. I look for opportunities where change is possible as not every person connects to every aspect of climate change in the same way. There is no hard and fast rule. My hope is that every piece of information has the potential to empower someone further.”
From the very start of her journey, Vivina upheld the importance of knowledge and influence as key tools for change. This reminds me of a famous quote from Albert Einstein,
“Never regard study as a duty but as an enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later works belong."
I believe this is Einstein referring to our 'legacy' and how it should intend to benefit future recipients on their journey. This insight ties in nicely to explain why many people who live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do so to feel at peace with themselves but also to influence others and therefore strengthen their impact.