We speak with Zara Williams, who we will be collaborating with as part of the Who Made My Activewear fitness festival on 28 April 2018, in support of Fashion Revolution Week.
You’re a sustainability consultant at Eco-Age and a barre instructor. Tell us how you got into these two areas of work?
I studied Geography at university which I really enjoyed. After graduating, I interned for the UK charity CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) where I learnt more about what businesses were doing to tackle environmental and social issues. I wanted to facilitate further change in the private sector, encouraging companies big and small to lower their environmental impact and to support and empower the people throughout their supply chains, which lead me to sustainability consultancy. I have now worked in sustainability consultancy for two and a half years and I really love it. I've been able to work with a variety of companies across different industries, advising on a wide range of sustainability issues.
As for barre, I’d danced since the age of four, taking classes and examinations both inside and outside of school. I continued to dance throughout university, competing and choreographing for the annual shows. After graduating, I discovered barre. It was the perfect medium between a typical fitness class and a dance class. I really enjoyed the classes I’d attended so I decided to become an instructor. I trained with the amazing PT and instructor Chiara Pellegrino to teach her BarreBodyLondon method. I’ve now been teaching barre for a year and a half and I thoroughly enjoy it; it’s a wonderful way to work out and boost your mood after a long day. I’m also currently studying for my Level 3 Diploma in Pilates.
You are obviously kept very busy. How do you maintain a sustainable lifestyle, from the sense of maintaining balance?
Finding balance is certainly not something I’ve mastered quite yet! I try to switch off at the weekend and only work if I have one of my monthly barre events. I’ll usually spend the weekend just relaxing with my boyfriend, Ollie, and catching up with friends and family. During the week, I have a long commute from Haggerston to Chiswick which is where I catch up on my emails, organise my social media and take some time to read or listen to a podcast. Ollie and I have got into a really nice habit of reading before bed during the week lately too which I find is amazing for winding down. I also try to avoid looking at my phone right before sleep and first thing in the morning - though can't say this is something I always stick to!
Other than Adrenna (of course!), what are your top 3 favourite sustainable brands?
That’s a really difficult one! Right now I think I’d have to say:
Though I do get most of my clothes from vintage shop Beyond Retro - there’s nothing better than finding a high-quality, unique, vintage gem!
What sort of things do you do in your everyday life to make it as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible?
Day-to-day I’d say I just try to make responsible choices whenever possible. Whenever purchasing anything I always do my research, looking for products or services with a lower environmental impact or a positive impact on the local community. I take my time to find exactly what I’m looking for and would rather go without than with something I don’t really want. I get really excited when I find a more sustainable option and love to support companies aiming to operate in a more responsible manner. For example, today I’m getting my hair cut at Ralph and Rice in Shoreditch; a salon aiming to offer a more eco-friendly experience. They use well-respected in the sustainability space hair care brand Davines, support local companies through their procurement of coffee and plants to name a few, and are fitted out with second-hand furniture and lower impact materials such as cork. There are loads of companies now offering more sustainable products and services, especially in London, you just have to do some research and make the switch! I also try to avoid single-use plastic as much as possible, carrying around my reusable water bottle, coffee cup and tote bags.
What would you like to see happen in the next 12 months in the fashion sustainability space?
From brands, I'd like to see greater transparency. I want to know who made my clothes and I'd like to see fashion brands sharing the stories of their supply chain. I'd also like to see more initiatives to ensure the people throughout the textiles industry are sufficiently supported and feel empowered rather than exploited.
From consumers, I'd like to see more support for local makers and brands with sustainability at the heart of their business. I'd like to see more people buying investment pieces that they wear time and time again, as well as renting pieces for special occasions.