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Alice Forrest is a marine biologist and wildlife guide, with a passion for the natural world and the creatures who inhabit it. As a researcher but also a Divemaster & freediver, she’s a firm believer in the need to communicate the science as well as the intrinsic value of the ocean and what’s beneath the surface. Find out why she chooses to reuse with Modibodi.
Who/what inspired you to become environmentally focused?
The magic of the ocean, and wildlife in general. Learning about the issues facing our planet was a concern for me, but it wasn’t until I started to spend time in wild places that I began to realise my own personal impact. Volunteering with sea turtles opened my eyes to how my dietary choices (canned tuna or bottled water for example) could directly harm these amazing animals. Scuba diving showed me how the plastic I used every day could easily end up entangling a stingray. Seeing eye to eye with humpback whales made me realise that the most important motivation for me was to be a better member of this planet, to be part of cleaning up oceans and protecting them rather than being part of the problem. Ultimately it was experiencing how incredible these creatures are that made me care about what happened to them, and how I could impact them, and made me want to protect what I loved.
Were you a sustainable family growing up?
No, I don’t think we were. I grew up in a small town in northern NSW, cotton farming country. The lifestyle there was often tough because of the drought, and I don’t think I had much concept of how we humans could impact the planet. My dad works in the agriculture industry and works a lot with large chemical manufacturers, and we grew up eating meat for every meal. Being an environmentalist was seen as a negative choice, being a hippie or a greenie, and ultimately was also a luxury that wasn’t available to people who were just trying to get by and put food on the table.
What big/small changes have you made to be more sustainable in your life?
For me, starting with small changes in my own life was the best way to deal with the knowledge of mass extinction, climate change, plastic pollution, overfishing, and all the other ways we’re causing harm. Taking action was the best way to feel more optimistic. With this in mind, I started with changes like getting a reusable drink bottle & coffee cup, shopping at bulk stores & farmers markets to avoid plastic packaging, and cutting animal products out of my diet. Overall, I try to think about the impact of my decisions and choose options with a more positive impact.
Since then it’s kind of grown into a few huge changes – I now live in an off-grid tiny home that I built with my partner, made with largely recycled materials. We have a composting toilet, and use only solar power and rainwater (no fossil fuels). I eat a plant-based diet, without animal products (apart from honey from local bees & eggs from my neighbours rescued chickens) and buy local fruit & veg as much as possible. I try not to buy anything without knowing where it came from & how it was made, and most of my clothes come from clothes swaps. To some people, this may seem extreme, and to others it may seem like not enough. But for me it feels like doing what I can - I’m in a hugely privileged position to be able to live this way, and I know that this isn’t for everyone, but for me this lifestyle aligns with my values & just makes sense.
Has the environment always been a big part of your life?
I’ve always loved being outdoors, playing in the ocean, camping and wildlife. But I think until my early 20s I thought the environment was just the outside world. I now know that the environment is actually an integral part of my life – two out of every three breaths I take comes from the ocean, and the other from the trees. The environment now is not just something out there to play in, my existence is dependent on it’s wellbeing.
Now, I still enjoy freediving, hiking and adventuring, and work as a guide in some of the wildest places on earth, but I have a whole new respect for these places and their importance. And becoming a better custodian for this planet which keeps us alive is the primary driving force in my life.
What tips can you give your community to help make changes in their daily lives?
Don’t focus on the problems, or what you see people doing on Instagram. Instead, focus on what motivates you to care and make changes from a place of love & hope (instead of fear or guilt). Everyone has something unique and amazing to offer, find your own skills and passions and make the changes that you can. Don’t beat yourself up for things you can’t do, but do think about your impact & how you can make this a more positive one. Start somewhere and do the next right thing.
Would you consider working with brands that did not align with your values? Is this important to you?
That depends on how I’m working with them – I’m always happy to share information and ideas to help brands become more sustainable. However in regards to being an ambassador or supporter of a brand, it’s important to me to align with brands that are really making a positive difference. That’s why I support Modibodi – I really believe they’re creating change and their business is helping provide solutions & better options for women around the world. I think it’s hugely important to support businesses that align with my values, both for my own piece of mind and to help create a better world in the future where ultimately all businesses have a social & environmental conscience.