We’re introducing a brand new feature to the blog, called PALA Meets, where we’ll be regularly catching up with superstars from the world of fashion and sustainability and those who share PALA’s views on consumerism with a conscience.
For our first interview, we spoke to Kaméa Chayne, who is on a mission to enable us all to thrive in our personal wellness while supporting a sustainable planet. She regularly consults and partners with brands on sustainable creativity and innovation, all with the goal of helping our world to become a healthier place to call home.
Kaméa, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. You describe yourself as an eco creative; you’re also a published author, qualified health coach, and soon to be podcast host, all in the field of personal wellness with a focus on sustainability. What led you onto this path?
Having grown up with parents in the healthcare industry, health-consciousness was ingrained in me as a child. At first, my love for wildlife was perhaps superficial; I simply thought animals were cute. Once I learned that so many species were endangered, I wanted to help out at conservation programs. So, I volunteered at the Sea Turtle Conservation in Ostional, Costa Rica, and the Panda Conservation Center in Si Chuan, China throughout high school. However, it wasn’t until I took Environmental Studies at university, that I learned how everything connects, and how much the health of our planet impacts not only the health of wildlife populations, but also our own health as humans. To me, health and sustainability go hand in hand; there’s simply no escaping the fact that we need clean water, clean air, and rich biodiversity in order to be well. Once I realised this, there was no going back for me. I now stand between two worlds that feel so separate, but which desperately need to be connected and seen as one.
The title of your book is ‘Thrive: An environmentally conscious lifestyle guide to better health and true wealth”. What did you hope to achieve by writing the book?
The goal really was to help broaden our current view of “wellness,” which mostly entails fitness, diet, and rest. My impression was that mental wellbeing wasn’t being addressed sufficiently and was still seen as an abstract concept, and that we haven’t been able to connect the dots between the health of our planet and our health as individuals. So, in addition to covering physical health, I explored what we can do to strengthen our mental wellbeing, which in turn supports our physical energy and health. And equally, what we can do to support our planet’s wellbeing, which provides us with cleaner water, cleaner air, and richer biodiversity – meaning less disease, more nutrient-rich soils, and more nutrient-dense foods for us.
The book examines how we, as consumers, can impact some of the environmentally harmful practices of big business, through the choices we make. Can you share any examples of where you are starting to see this happen?
I think humans are innately problem solvers. So when people started to learn how pesticides are unhealthy for our ecosystems and can also be toxic to our own health as consumers, and consequently started buying more organic or biodynamic produce, demand for these products increased. Today, even in mainstream or budget supermarkets, we can find lots of organic products. There’s no doubt consumers can help drive demand for a healthier world.
You have a particular interest in sustainable fashion and work with a number of brands in this area. What constitutes ‘sustainable fashion’, and as consumers, what factors should we consider when deciding which brands to spend our money with?
To me, “sustainable fashion” is an ideal to strive towards. And no brand single-handedly can claim the title of “sustainable fashion”, no matter how green it is independently. This is because sustainability doesn’t depend on a single brand’s practices alone. It also depends on how the raw materials were harvested or collected, how far those raw fibres travelled throughout the supply chain before arriving in the hands of the brand, the wearer’s shopping habits, how well the wearer takes care of his/her clothing, how they wearer passes on his or her clothing at the end of use, and so forth. So, sustainable fashion is an ultimate goal that all clothing-wearers, and everyone throughout the supply chain and a product’s life-cycle can play an active role in.
As consumers, I think what’s most important is to first understand your personal priorities. Everyone approaches sustainability in a different way depending on his or her values, accessibility, style, shopping preferences, skin sensitivities, etc. Then after that, beyond supporting second hand clothes, hand-me-down’s, and buying less and buying better overall, we can ask ourselves the following questions to determine if we want to shop with a brand:
1) Personal priorities: Do the brand’s values and style align with my own? Is it in my price range?
2) Material choices: What fibres and materials are used? Ideally, prioritise low-impact, biodegradable, non-toxic materials, or otherwise materials made from up-cycled, recycled, or deadstock fabrics. (Pro tip: Look out for factual information, for example, what the specific material is, rather than descriptors like “eco-friendly” which is overused and is really subjective).
3) Business practices: Is the brand knowledgeable about where its raw materials came from, what the supply chain looks like from start to finish, who made its products, etc.? In addition to the brand’s own practices, does it also support social and environmental causes? It’s difficult for brands to be absolutely perfect in every step, but it’s key that the brand is aware of its impacts and processes first and foremost in order for any improvements to be made in the future.
You will soon be releasing your first podcast. What should we expect?
The Green Dreamer Podcast will be specifically for sustainability-focused creatives, visionaries, and entrepreneurs striving to do what they can in their own lives, and in their passion projects to help our planet thrive. So, you can look forward to me bringing on guests who are mega entrepreneurs in the space, who are global movement creators, who are pioneers in the field, etc., for us to learn together how we can elevate the impact of our work. At the same time, you can expect holistic sustainability to shine throughout the show – this means I’ll be emphasising not only the wellbeing of our planet, but also your individual mental and physical wellbeing, since only when you’re in optimal health can you be as innovative and creative as possible, and bring about your best service to this world.
Links to Kaméa