Words from Sustainable Birds X Joa Arias

We are so happy to speak this week to Joa Arias. From falling in love with her pictures of her beautiful boys and her wanderlust lifestyle this admiration has grown in to full appreciation for her lifestyle, outlook and output into the world. Thank you Joa for being a wonderful inspiration.

An introduction to Joa in her own words...First above all a mama to my two little wild boys, who make my heart sing of happiness 🧡 I’m an educator, photographer, crafter, a forever student, a big dreamer and nature addict and the  person behind the camera of @theazizbrotherhood and the maker of @made.by.joa 

What's the weirdest thing you’ve recycled? 

Well one of the biggest challenges of sustainable living was asking friends and family not to send us greeting cards. Whenever I received them, I’d recycle them. I once used them for an art and mindfulness workshop I ran in my area for families and children with special needs. 

I’m not sure if this is a weird one but I constantly reuse packaging. Any boxes, bags or whatever arrives usually gets recycled and send on to the next person. 

 

First memory of being sustainable/waste reducing etc (ie mum using ice cream tubs for school lunch etc)

Growing up with a very hard-working family around me was the start of my journey in to sustainable living. My mum and grandmother were pretty smart and resourceful, so we didn’t buy much. The clothes they made for us were made from old blankets and our uncle’s shirt 🤦🏻‍♀️ (Not the cool style we wanted as children and teenagers at the time) but the best start anyone could ask for. Now, thinking back, I thought that was how everyone was living their life. We also had a lot of hand me down clothes & toys from our eldest cousin, so hardly anything was bought new. 

I think I have always been influenced by my family, to save everything, reuse and recycle; so, for me sustainable living started pretty early. It has now become a huge trend, and there are a lot of companies now profiting from it. This isn’t a trend for a lot of people, it’s how we have lived, and continue to live our lives.

When the 90s came around I hated wearing my grandmother’s homemade clothes and dresses, so in an act of rebellion I decided to only dress in black, this meant a pair of back trousers and a few black tops. 

When it came to food, our neighbour had a farm, so any leftover food would go to her animals, and the rest would be left for composting.

 

What does sustainability mean to you? 

Being sustainable for me is like being conscious. It’s about taking responsibility for what we consume, and as individuals trying to reduce what we take from this planet’s natural resources.

For most people it takes a lot reading and a real conscious effort to step out of old, learned ways of living, and for others it’s how they grew up. There can be a mis-understanding of what ‘Green living’ means, and this misconception that you need money to make certain choices in order to do this. But on the contrary having a sustainable lifestyle could serve better financially, as you can make choices that reduce costs when it comes to carbon footprint, transportation, energy consumption, diet and what we wear. 

‘Green living is a lifestyle that is naturally balanced, consistent, sustainable and respective of our symbolic relationship with the Earth’s ecosystem’


What has been the hardest thing to let go of in your sustainable journey? 

I think the hardest was body and beauty products, including switching to the menstrual cup. Back when I stopped using these, I was 18 and there wasn’t a lot on the market, so I learnt to make everything myself. When I was younger time was an issue as I always had to keep re-filling, however, over the years I’ve become better, more organised and more efficient.

Looking back, I think it was a great opportunity for me to learn, as I became a self-taught herbalist and built a collection of the most amazing books full of natural recipes for beauty products.  

I feel that our lifestyle is very different to some of our family and friends, but being kind, and accepting that we all have very different journeys, is the key to a non-judgemental mentality.

 

Who do you admire in the sustainable living community? 

One of my biggest inspirations is my partner who is an incredible researcher and sustainable conscious human, who only owns 10 black t-shirts (and a suit and a kilt) and two pairs of jeans which he will make last years. Whenever his t-shirts look old and faded he dyes them to bring them back alive. If they become too holy they’re reused as dusters or something. He is also a big fan of my darning skills. He taught me it’s ok to pay a bit extra for things which will last like his rugged wax jacket:

 

Tips for shopping sustainable

Harmless though it seems, fast fashion is one of the most polluting industries on the planet. So I’ve pledged that whenever I acquire something new, it will be recycled or upcycled to support a local cause and/or be environmentally sustainable.

We have a love for learning in this house, and maybe it’s a bad habit researching everything to a deeper level, but it means we can make sure we know exactly what we’re consuming or where we’re buying from. I’ve been a lover of eBay since forever 🥰, charities, school jumble sales (a great way to introduce our children to reused preloved clothing and toys) car boot sales, local give away websites, and of course for those who can afford it always find and support small sustainable brands that you know hold ethical values towards the consumers and environment! 

Buy local products (and support Fairtrade)

 

How do you create less waste - tips/tricks 

As I mentioned Green living is a continuous opportunity to practice spiritual mindfulness. So doing little things like  composting , recycling, repairing, reusing, eco-wise shopping, conserving water & energy and other eco-friendly acts are all deeds of sustainable living and wellness. 

 

Who to follow?

@ssustainably_ educational graphics IG 

@carbonbrief report of climate change science 

@ecouniversity evidence base fact on sustainability 

@earthrise.studio 

@get.waste.ed amazing tips on zero food waste and incredible information. My favourite. 

@greentipsgarden

@beclean.gogreen

 

Future goals 

Dreaming is the food for the soul so I like to dream big. I would love to be able to live off the grid one day, and grow at least 80% of my food.