22nd April 2022
What's Earth Day & when is it?
Teva speaks with couple Jayden and Rachel who both share a passion for the outdoors and advocate for ecological responsibility and we find out what Earth Day means to them.
Earth Day, held on the 22nd of April 2022, is a global event that celebrates the natural environment and raises awareness of environmental issues. This year the theme for Earth Day is to invest in our planet.
We caught up with the Kiwi couple Jayden Klinac and Rachel Mataira who both share a passion for the outdoors and advocate for ecological responsibility to find out what Earth Day means to them and how they ensure a lighter footprint.
Tell us a little bit about yourselves?
Jayden: I’m the Founder of For The Better Good, a company producing circular packaging and implementing the systems and infrastructure needed to design waste out of the system. Along this journey, I discovered composting and small-scale regenerative farming.
I love anything to do with nature and collaborating with it, from spending time in the garden, hiking and exploring, or heading out for a surf.
Rachel: I’m a landscape and documentary photographer. My work focuses on the contrasting genres of landscapes and social commentary, photographing the beauty of the world but its harsher realities too. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time in nature, cold swims, and spending quality time with the people I care about.
What does Earth Day mean to you?
Earth day to us is kind of like Valentine’s Day. A good chance to reflect and to celebrate what you have. Having a special day for it acts as a nice reminder of what is inherently important to us every other day of the year. The only difference is you can’t break up with the earth (unless you’re Elon Musk).
What are some initiatives you are hoping to support this year within your community?
Jayden: I have found a lot of meaningful impact within community-scale regenerative urban farms. An initiative I started in 2019 was Edible Earth whereby finding an abandoned bowling green and converting it into a compost hub and urban farm. This was done in partnership with a charity called Well-Fed and has a goal of feeding the community.
However, when done in a regenerative way, feeding the community also leads to positive impacts such as food waste diversion through compost, regenerating the soil and ultimately sequestering carbon (reversing climate change). Edible Earth has scoped out multiple new sites in Auckland and Wellington and is planning the conversion of more under-utilised land into edible earth.
Alongside this, For The Better Good is shifting focus to assist other businesses design and implement circular packaging options within their supply chains.
Rachel: I have a simple yet beautiful way of capturing our natural surroundings through photography. Making these available for people to purchase in their homes allows people to have a daily reminder of the outdoors and nature through arts.
Over the past year, I have been working with EECA on a large project to capture and tell the story of all of the key renewable energy sites that New Zealand has to offer - the project will be completed this year with the hopes of educating the public on energy production and serving as a timestamp of where New Zealand’s at.
I continue to work closely with New Zealand Geographic as a photojournalist to tell stories related to New Zealand’s environment.
What does living sustainably mean to you?
Sustainability to us is less about what we do, and more about how we do it. For example, people who decide to eat meat - if that meat is farmed in a conventional way it results in damaging greenhouse gasses. Whereas on the flip-side, regenerative farming practices have proved to sequester carbon and be beneficial for the environment.
In both situations, meat ends up on the person's plates. However, being conscious about the life-cycle and knowing how our food came to be, makes all the difference. Similarly, with any product we buy, taking a holistic view can ensure that the footprint of that product is as light as possible and in some ways ideally beneficial.
On a deeper level, the meaning of sustainability is to sustain the cycles of life, or in other words to remain where we are. Unfortunately, with the lack of sustainability over time we have gone beyond our boundaries. Regeneration on the other hand simply means not only to do things better but to remedy damage from past practices. So taking a regenerative approach to living wherever possible feels more productive.
What steps do you take in your own daily lives to make an environmental difference?
We are both very aware that in reality, we consume things every day. And everything we consume has a footprint. In an attempt to be as light on the planet as we can, we buy our produce from our local market, The Shed Collective each weekend.
It’s simple, you chat to the person who grew your food so you know exactly where it came from and how it’s grown. For clothing and other products, it’s a little more complex. We both try to choose and support brands that are taking the life cycle into account and the ones who are on a journey to genuinely be the best that they can be.
There are more and more brands popping up all the time who take this approach which is exciting to see and we believe are the ones that will be around for a long time.
How do you recommend encouraging others to become more mindful of their environmental impact?
We believe that wherever possible it’s important to broaden your thinking beyond the stage of you owning that product or eating whatever food you enjoy. Asking questions like 'Where did this come from?', 'What did it take to get here?' and 'What happens to this after I’m finished with it?'.
Having a level of awareness may cause us to make different choices in consumption.
We aren’t sure if it’s too altruistic to think that knowing these things will encourage individuals to make a change. We are all so busy and it's hard enough to find things we like, let alone know everything about them.
Also, the reality is that not everyone is passionate about the environment. However, the reality is, if it’s not good for the planet it’s probably not going to be too good for us or our bodies.
So even if you don’t care about the environment or it’s a bit too confusing, having the understanding that locally grown organic food, natural cleaning products, natural beauty products, natural clothing and essentially everything that is good for the planet, is much better for our own personal health in the short and long term.
Tell us about how you like to enjoy the outdoors and spend time in nature?
We have both always been drawn to nature and the outdoors in our own individual ways through using storytelling to advocate for its importance or trying to protect it. We recently did a hike on Great Barrier Island with friends, which was an amazing reminder of how important it is to connect and recharge ourselves and how special it is to do with friends.
On a day to day basis, we live in Titirangi purposefully so we can enjoy the many bush walks, beaches and its peaceful setting and have a contrast to our day to day work demands.
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