Plant stylist, regenerative gardener, 'Mommygrapher', slow-living enthusiast, Shweta Mukherjee, wears a lot of different hats. Known by a lot of us as Sustainably Mili, she is an eco-influencer from Goa who chose to switch to slow and sustainable fashion four years ago. And what better way to mark Earth Day than a candid chat with a sustainability advocate?
Read on to find out more about our conversation with Sustainably Mili where we talk about everything under the sun (quite literally) from life in Goa, to eco-friendly motherhood, gardening, Shweta's initiative, ‘A Million Forestsʼ and much more...
What made you begin your journey towards sustainability?
Almost eight years ago I started a documentary project with artisans around India. I learnt about fairtrade, fair practices and handmade products. That is when I started making a gradual switch towards Sustainable fashion. Eventually, I understood that sustainability is a way of life. It demands us to come out of our selfishness and comfort zone for a bigger cause.
What does gardening mean to you? How did practicing gardening/growing your own produce help your sustainability journey?
"The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway." - Michael Pollan
Gardening and interacting with soil plus working with soil has changed the meaning of the way I live my life. In the last three years I have built a mini jungle around the rented space where we are living. We love the biodiversity around our home now, watching different species of birds, butterflies, insects. I am growing a small food produce as well, eliminating the need for plastic packed salads.
Could you tell us more about your initiative ‘A Million Forestsʼ?
A million forests is my brand that I launched during the pandemic. I closed the retail shop later on where I was selling handmade planters.
I am now working on a preloved concept where every sale will also contribute to a tree. I am also building sustainable community activity through A Million Forests. The brand should be re launched soon now.
What made you move and settle in Goa? Has the move contributed to your sustainability journey?
Right before living in Goa we were in Delhi. Pollution was the biggest reason why we moved to Goa. We like Goa, it is a fair place to live. There is so much more respect towards nature and humans over here.
What has been your biggest challenge in your sustainability journey?
Habits, changing habits.
Letʼs talk about motherhood and family; Has it been harder to make eco choices as a mother? Whatʼs one piece of advice would you give to mothers who are trying to practice a more eco-conscious lifestyle?
It has never been hard to make eco choices as a mother. We do not need plastic toys, we need kids climbing up the tree and playing in dirt and sand.
Kids love watching us and mimic what we do. Habits, we need to change our habits, they will learn what we do.
In your journey of advocating a conscious lifestyle and sustainable habits what is an important lesson you learned in the process?
I have learnt that too much of anything is bad, right now it is about too much of the human brain. Something as simple as running is now automated into a treadmill that is a part of many regular households.
We don't make our nimboo pani now, we buy it. Remember beating coffee when we were young? It involved physical activity, now we take our car to get the fancy take away coffee
(on a regular basis ), pay for that and then pay for the gym also. Too much of using our brain is making humans foolish. The lesson learnt is that simplicity is the key. A little bit of brain and a lot of compassion for humans and nature is what I have learnt.
As a sustainability advocate, what are your plans for Earth Day 2023 and beyond?
My plans for earth day is to clean up the neighbourhood beach with my community and continue the process.