The sustainability mantra with Kate Smithers

The sustainability mantra with Kate Smithers

May 16, 2019 0 Comments


Kate is our sustainable light here at LAKA and has been pioneering efforts in her home, work, and personal life that mirror a more sustainable version of well....everything. We tapped her on the best places to start practicing sustainability, why it's important, and what on Earth to do about those friends of yours who are still buying cases of plastic water bottles. 



What is sustainability? Sustainability is living in balance with + at one with nature and our environment. Mother Nature herself is the most beautiful portrayal of sustainability - nothing wasted, everything regenerated or redistributed as needed. This is a hard concept to fully grasp and an even harder one to put into practice, as we have moved so far away from it but it is still possible! I think looking back to our ancestors even as far as our grandparents and great grandparent's generations can help us to move in this direction - before modern conveniences that allowed us to be thoughtlessly wasteful you really had to use what you had and make do with the rest! Sustainability moving forward is all about re-establishing our balance with natural systems if we want to continue living on this planet.


In your opinion, what is the biggest need for sustainable practices industry wide right now? I would say we are still in the stage that the biggest need is awareness. This is step one - once something comes to the forefront of your consciousness you can't push it back! Creative solutions for the modern day are definitely key - alternative technologies for packaging + localizing products as much as possible are very important for business sustainability. Especially for fresh food products I think the localization movement (which again think back 100+ years - there was only local food) is the key.


What are the Environmental impacts of non-sustainable practices? Agricultural? Ahh! Haha.... they are infinite - most importantly that non-sustainable practices are essentially ruining future generations chances at a happy, healthy and stable lifestyle that we all have the luxury of enjoying in many areas of the world. Large scale, industrial mono-culture (single crop) farming is depleting soil nutrition to the point that you eat the food that comes out of it and are still malnourished. Large scale production also increases chances of pest infestation, drought, crop loss, famine, leaches toxic chemicals into the soil and our bodies. Food surplus doesn't do us any good when all of these issues come along with it. I won't go on - but a good takeaway message is to know your grower! Even for those of us who live in a city - you have the chance today to find your favorite small scale farmer at the market on instagram - check out their grow style. See what real organic food practices look like - it's incredible! A lot of hard work, not huge machines churning out thousands of pounds of something but beautiful, nutrient dense food coming out of healthy soil and not covered in toxic herbicides.


Give us a brief of your favorite ways you practice sustainability in work, at home, in self-care, and in health? My husband and I strive to grow a good foundation of our own food in organic and sustainable ways here in the yard. We try to use everything - scraps for compost, soups, chicken food etc. Living on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific means a lot of our food here is shipped in - and we are still guilty of monthly trips to Costco to stock up on some staples, but the majority of our diet we try to live off the local produce. Farmers markets + our own food make up most of our meals. Small habits are the hardest to change but trying to buy things only in glass or aluminum (80+% recyclable vs plastic which can sometimes be only 3% recyclable) is important. I stopped buying plastic shampoo bottles - have found awesome alternatives like shampoo bars, or making your own! I make our own easy counter-top spray instead of buying it in a plastic bottle, share food with friends instead of having waste that gets thrown out and re-use everything we possibly can. I know with a busy modern day lifestyle it's hard to make things yourself but you will find so much fulfillment in making your own pickles, mustard, kombucha, ginger beer, sourdough bread, etc. Just try some of these once as a fun project, you may be surprised how worth it the time is and the waste it saves you :)


The simplest (and cheapest) place to start when shifting to a sustainable mindset? If it is accessible to you, go first to the farmer's market and last to the grocery store. Look for glass or aluminum before plastic. Last resort try to at least buy things in bulk (no tiny single use anything, it is unnecessary waste!)


Words of encouragement/how to break the seal to your friend who still buys (gasp) cartons of plastic water bottles from Costco? First step - get yourself a trendy refillable water bottle and some kind of filter. What if you didn't have to take out your trash every other day? Just start with something small and continue the progression from there. If you think you will ever have children you have to start now or these selfish practices will continue to have negative ripple effects now and into the future!


How do you carry your practices with you while traveling or abroad? Similar to home practices - bring all your own everything. No tiny single use bottles for toiletries (I fill small re-usable ones myself), bring your own straw, silverware, cup and little dishtowel as a napkin. Each time you can turn down a single use anything is a huge win. And your doing so will show everyone else how easy it is! Even when we travel we still visit the local markets wherever we are and buy only as much as we need - still cook some or most of our meals depending on where we will be traveling and do a lot of walking and biking.


When I practice sustainability, I feel….. whole. The word that seems to fit the best is in Hawaiian: 'pono' which means goodness, rightness and also refers to true nature (for example the sun rising in the East and setting in the West is pono - simply the true nature of how things are). I also feel like an educator when I do so, which if you know me you will learn this is one of my favorite roles to fill :) When I am practicing sustainability in all of its forms I feel like it sets an example or at least shows some of the possible ways you can move towards this ever elusive balance with nature!