Travelling to sustainability

Danica Ratte shares her story of culture and personal discovery as part of Biome's Blog Program. If you have an interest in sharing your stories with our Biome community, please contact Tracey.

A Traveller's Journey to a Sustainable Lifestyle

My motivation to live a sustainable life was a classic one; I was driven by my desire for a simplified and healthy lifestyle. However, my journey to it has been a bit off the beaten path. The inspiration for this change came after having lived in Australia as an expat for three years. I went on a five-week trip through Southeast Asia and was blown away by the unique culture and beautiful weaving handicrafts in Vietnam. Local people were struggling to keep their traditional weaving cultures alive. This moved me so much, I decided to pack up my things in Australia and live in Vietnam for a year in order to work with these artisans. Once I made my decision to move overseas, there was nothing that was going to stop me - including the idea of having to get rid of a house-full of furniture! A lot of it had been previously given to me and I had friends who happened to be moving into a new place, so I actually felt great about getting rid of it all and leaving with only a suitcase or two of my belongings. The relief I felt from not owning all of this ‘stuff' any longer was huge. I literally felt the weight of all the things that I previously owned lift off of my shoulders. I was free to move anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat. After completely going through my belongings, selling them, donating them and keeping only my very best things, I was ready to book a flight and move to Vietnam. Anyone that has ever travelled knows that travelling light makes your trip so much easier, especially when you have multiple flights and on-ground transportation to catch! I arrived at my temporary hotel with a backpack and only one suitcase. After one week, I lugged everything back into a taxi and moved into what I would call home for a month. I ended up moving three more times, a process which often involved me dragging my suitcase down small alleyways covered in potholes in the middle of a hot humid day, all whilst being stared at by locals. Constant moving required me to keep assessing my belongings and gifting unwanted items to my cleaners and friends (who always accepted eagerly). The constant evaluation reminded me what it is that I actually needed, and helped me resist accumulating 'stuff' again.

Living in Vietnam

The climate in Vietnam is very hot and humid, so investing in good quality clothing like breathable merino wool from New Zealand and sustainable brands focused on quality and artisanship, were extremely important, and made living there easier. The Vietnam weather is pretty consistent year round, with really only two seasons - the dry season and the wet season. I only needed three - four outfits that I could cycle through each week. I got around on motorbikes, therefore I would often stick to a pair of flats, and I tried to avoid heels and flip-flops at all possible costs! Working out of cafes or handbag and textile workshops didn't require me to put on a suit or fancy dress, so I kept my wardrobe extremely simple, keeping only the basics.

If you are living in a foreign country you HAVE to indulge in the local food culture! Which also means you are spending less time in the grocery aisles and are not as tempted to pick up things that are processed and packed full of sugar. While it is quite hard to come by anything organic, I often visited the local markets to pick out fresh produce. In between eating exotic Vietnamese dishes, I made salads and whipped up my staple- guacamole and pico de gallo for lunch.

Moving Back to Australia

Now that I am moving back to Australia, I am excited to have access to more eco stores, like Biome, and to start making my own personal healthcare products like toothpaste, shampoo and body scrubs. I have been inspired by those who live a zero waste lifestyle, so I would also like to start implementing some more changes in my own life. Through this process I have learned several things:

1. Living sustainably is a process- this lifestyle takes some transitioning time, requires research, and an understanding of what you stand for.

2. Living a sustainable lifestyle is defined in many different ways- you can choose what you value.

3. Try not pressure yourself or feel bad about not being able to achieve everything all at once - be kind to yourself, and understand that everyone goes through their own journey.

I truly believe that I am now happier, healthier and more motivated to achieve my dreams, because of the strong foundation that my sustainable lifestyle has created for me. I'd love to hear about your journey! Please share what you have learned in the comments below.

Related Links:

Follow Danica's story: Travelling to Sustainability Part 2.

Sustainable and Convenient Travel Tips

Top Tips to make Zero Waste Travel Easier

Taking the stress, weight and plastic out of packing.

More Travel & Adventure Stories

This style of travelling can often lead to you being somewhere with no power. Never fear! Our range of portable solar panels and chargers means you never need to be powerless.

Another must have for any traveller is an eco friendly phone case. We also have cases for your accessories and laptops.

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