The Influence of Sustainability with Besma Whayeb
We spoke with Besma Whayeb, a sustainable fashion and lifestyle blogger behind Curiously Conscious for our sustainability podcast, (Re)action by Homethings. Throughout the chat over a cup of tea, we discussed politics for the environment, how switching your bank account could be the easiest sustainable switch you make and laughing at that picture of pigeons wearing cowboy hats. Besma also runs a platform called Ethical Influencers, for bloggers, influencers, creatives – anyone working within the space to promote sustainability in their own authentic way.
Homethings: What inspired you to create the Curiously Conscious blog; were you born with a sustainability head or is this something that you’ve become passionate about more recently?
Besma Whayeb: I was definitely not sustainable, or 100% sustainably minded, for a good number of years. We obviously had recycling at home and bits and pieces that were slightly more sustainable but it wasn’t something I was totally focused on. It actually came to the forefront when I was at University and moved to Paris as part of my degree. French food was all around me, I started to really get into French cooking, and suddenly my focus shifted to where my food was coming from. I would shop from the local market next door and speak to the Farmers about produce and when it was available, and it really got me thinking about my consumption habits and the sustainability of what is on my plate. When I moved back to the UK after my placement year, I decided to use this knowledge and experience to write my dissertation on sustainable agriculture, which was a great insight into policy and how there are big systems that also govern the little things, such as the food that ends up on your plate. From there, it spiralled to me questioning everything else – where does our fashion come from, how are my beauty products being made, what is going into my household cleaning products, etc etc. Lots of little steps that have led to a (now) sustainable lifestyle.
Homethings: Thumbs up. From that point to where you are now, how engrossed have you become within the world of sustainability?
Besma Whayeb: I feel like I live it. The difficulty is that I don’t think that anyone can claim that they are 100% sustainable, it’s not really possible. I actually wrote a post last year on Eco Perfectionism and what the effect is of certain individuals claiming that they are at one with the woods – it’s just not realistic. I do love my work and I am always questioning what we can push, what can be changed, what there is to learn and who can I talk to about it; hence the name Curiously Conscious. We are so fortunate now that there are so many individuals and brands, like Homethings, out there and trying to do their bit sustainably and also in a way that means that I actually want to have these products in my life and in my home. I want them to be beautiful as well as effective, and have them out on the shelves, rather than hide them away and pretend to my friends that I’m not secretly a hippie.
Homethings: The sustainable sector has changed so much from being seen as a niche knock-on movement dressed in hemp to an area that can be celebrated for creating desirable products without costing the earth.
Besma Whayeb: Completely. I believe there shouldn’t have to be that much sacrifice when you’re making sustainable switches. Sometimes you may need to change your own behaviour, for example with fashion, buy less but buy better might be a good example, but I don’t think there should be a sacrifice when it comes to style – and that’s across everything these days. Everyone is aware of this, from the big multinationals to the independent brands, and we need to support that and continue to vote with our purchases.
Want more? Listen to the rest of the interview with Homethings and Besma Whayeb on Spotify here as well as iTunes and Acast. Just search ‘Reaction by Homethings’. And if you want to be more sustainable in your household cleaning, check out Homethings here – launching on Kickstarter 31st March.