Bitesize Blog

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Niamh and I am a teenage environmental blogger from the Welsh mountains. Although my blog is relatively new I have been passionate about the environment from a young age. My mum has taught Ecology and Environment at an FE college for 17 years and is now setting up an online training program. As such, I have grown up learning about the threats humankind pose on the natural world. When I discovered the budding plastic free community I decided to see if I could do my bit to promote companies and see how hard it would be to become zero waste. Therefore, my blog represents the journey I am on and is hopefully a realistic viewpoint that people can take inspiration from. I am obviously still learning and often ask as many questions as I answer, but I am trying my best! 

Where can people follow your blog?

I have an environmental blog on Instagram by the name of @phoenixfeather2017 and a blog for longer articles on a website by the same name.

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What made you start your blog?

As a student, I have been exposed to a range of people from a range of backgrounds and it has been a little distressing to realise how little people know about what is going on in the world – environmentally and otherwise. I started off trying to educate people about body confidence and fast fashion and slowly ended up blogging about the environmental impact daily life has. Although very few of my friends are aware of my blog, I hope that others my age take the time to read what I have written and take inspiration from it. So many of the young generation are actively trying to make a difference, yet there is still far too much complacency in teens and this must change in order to become enlightened adults.

What are your thoughts on Climate Change?

My mum has a book on her shelf called Hockey Sticks and Climate Wars, which when I was younger I always imagined as a book about St Trinian type people fights in wars about the climate. As I have grown up and begun to understand the terminology, I realised that it is a book about how fast the temperature is rising (in a hockey stick type shape) and what scientists are trying to do to combat the effects. Yet, that idea of a group of young people fighting to keep their planet safe is still so relevant. To me, climate change is a complicated affair and I don’t have the qualifications that people like my mum have to untangle the riddle. As I understand it, the climate is in a constant state of flux as it ranges between hot and ice ages, yet right now it is getting too hot too quickly which is thus too rapid for the flora and fauna of the world to adapt. This is almost undoubtedly caused by human activity. Therefore, it is now our duty to change our global society as radically as the industrial revolution in order to shape a world worth inhabiting.

Have you changed much about your lifestyle?

From the age of about twenty my mum lived off the land, therefore, although I have grown up in a house, we have always had a relatively low impact lifestyle. We are in a rented house meaning that we are restricted from living exactly as we want to, however we try to be careful with water and use Ecotricity as an electric supplier. I also work in a fruit and veg shop, which is mostly plastic free, and shopping there has considerably lowered our plastic use. In recent months I have started using plastic free cosmetics and am trying to be as conscious as possible when eating out. I have found that it is the little things that are often the most difficult to change and I am constantly coming up with ideas of how to improve. The most recent addition to the house has been a bread maker, which has come in handy for not having to buy lunch when out in town. Unfortunately there is always room to improve. We live somewhere that means that you have to get in the car to go anywhere, especially seeing as there is only one bus into town a day. Our next big step includes building a tiny house from reclaimed materials so that we can finally live a life we want.

What sort of reactions do you get from people who come across this?

Coming from a Welsh farming community there are always mixed emotions from people about lifestyle choices, however it is less the plastic free side that causes contention and more being vegan. A lot of my close friends are interested in the environment to some extent and have made changes in their lives to try to have a less of an impact. Moreover, my grandparents own an upland farm and are part of many environmental schemes. I have found that as long as you can back up your decisions with conviction people don’t tend to question you too much. I recently discovered that the biggest problems arise at Christmas, when people suddenly seem to forget that you have asked them not to buy you things that will not fit into the way you live your life; the only plastic in our house has been bought for us by others.
Last year I had the opportunity to attend a week long course at Oxford University on the topic of The Earth’s Future, which also gave me the opportunity to learn about how people from all sectors are working together towards a sustainable future. I feel that it was an invaluable experience, for it was an opportunity for a group of young people from a range of backgrounds to voice their opinions and ideas on our future.

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What changes have you found the hardest to make and what have you done to overcome them?

I have discovered that I am fairly stubborn and it feels so right to live naturally and simply that it wasn’t as difficult to begin the process as people may think. I did, however, encounter small difficulties, for example with shampoo bars, as my hair did not agree with them. Therefore, I went through many different ones before I found one that worked for me.

What is your biggest fear about the future?

I would say that the thought of not being prepared for whatever is coming scares me the most. I am only at the beginning of my life and there are a lot a predictions for what the future holds that terrify me. No one really knows what will happen.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

That’s a difficult one to answer! Generally, I would have to say my mum. She is one of those multi faceted people who always has a million and one projects on the go and still has time to help with whatever I need. She believes that nothing is beyond your reach and works constantly to prove this. She has devoted her life to the natural world, as she says that is where she feels most at home, and through teaching she has been able to enlighten so many people. Of course, David Attenborough has also always been a massive inspiration to me. I have been watching his programs as long as I can remember and I have learnt so much from him. I am glad that there are influential people who as making the environment a priority in the eyes of the masses. I am an English student, therefore I cannot help mentioning J. R. R. Tolkien as a great inspiration. He gave the trees a voice and emphasised the simple beauty of the natural world and how quickly it can be taken away. But that’s three, so if I had to pick one it would be disloyal to say anyone but my mum!

What is the one thing you would like people to take away from this?

Not to be scared by the future and all of the fatalistic things people say, but to instead use this as inspiration to do the best you can for the environment. We all have different backgrounds and different capabilities, so your contribution will be invaluable whatever it is. Change doesn’t have to be scary and neither does activism – I have never been to a march or anything like that. If I can do it, why not you?

Do you have any advice for Appletree and Avalon?

Just carry on being amazing! I love the natural beauty products you have to offer and have even placed an order myself! They’re great for my skincare routine & I’ve even reviewed these online.

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What do you think about what Niamh has to say? She’s clearly a massive inspiration for all generations! If you have any questions for her, please ask below & if you want to check out more about her work, please follow the links above.

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