Jennifer Nini - Eco Warrior Princess
This month I was lucky enough to chat with Jennifer Nini, Founder and Editor of Eco Warrior Princess. We just love her here at HB and were very inspired by our conversation. We hope you enjoy it too.
Was there a single moment (or series of them) that led you down the path of sustainability? What was it?
I had always been politically active taking part in several protest demonstrations, and used my communication skills to stand up for the voiceless, including the environment. Now in 2008, after studying Fashion Business, my then business partner and I - we were considering starting our own fashion label - travelled to China to visit cut, make, trim workshops and huge garment factories. I saw the less glamorous side of fashion, the part that advertisers, marketers and publicists don’t want you to see. I was shocked and because of my liberal political beliefs and advocacy for social justice, I decided that I didn’t want to take part in the fashion industry as it was.
When my business partner and I returned to Australia we never did get our fashion brand off the ground but what I saw stuck with me and I would tell my fashion story - about the sad piles of garments on the floor, the breaches in quality assurance, the despondent look in the worker’s eyes - to anyone who would care to listen.
In 2009 my new boyfriend Ben (who is now my fiance) encouraged me to start a blog as he felt very strongly that I should share my deep thoughts and viewpoints with the rest of the world. I hesitated at first. But then over a couple of weeks my mother started to encourage me as well. And when we had a friend and her husband over for dinner, a discussion about the current state of Australian politics and The Australian Greens ensued and my friend’s husband asked whether I had ever considered starting a blog. I try to follow my intuition and I saw the signs. I knew then it was something I just had to do. But I didn’t have the courage to do so right away.
Ben’s brother passed away in June 2010 and he was grief stricken. So we made the decision to leave Melbourne so that Ben could be closer to his family, most of whom lived in Queensland. We decided to move to his parents' 2 acre property in rural Queensland, in a town with 300 people.
I decided to start the blog before we left Melbourne. It was August 2010. I called the blog “Ramblings of an Eco Warrior Princess”. ‘Princess’ to signify my sheltered, stylish, life of convenience in Melbourne. ‘Eco Warrior’ to signify my new life living in the country where I would initially be living in a tent (I lived in this tent for 3 months) on his parents' vacant block of rural land.
In September 2010, my journey towards sustainable living officially began.
What is your favourite thing about living ‘off grid’ in rural QLD as opposed to Melbourne?
Being connected to the land and having the ‘space’ to focus on pursuing a ‘slow’ lifestyle that is aligned to my sustainability values. We bought a farm and now I live on a 120-acre rural property surrounded by trees and state forest and I feel more at peace now then I ever did in Melbourne. Being surrounded by nature soothes the soul and when you grow up in the city like I did, you don’t realise how tightly wound up and stressed you are until you leave. I remember thinking, Did I really live like that? No wonder I’m so stressed! The tree change has had this calming effect on me and now that I live here in this magical green wonderland, I couldn’t dream of living anywhere else.
I should also add that my home is completely solar powered so there is no guilt in using electricity as our energy source is completely renewable. I have room to grow my organic veggies and at last count we are growing 40 varieties of fruit, vegetables and nuts. We have about five 20,000 litre water tanks and collect our own rain water - we do not rely on town water at all, and don’t need to worry about fluoride in our water either. As for heating, we collect old wood that litters our property and use the pot belly to heat up our home in winter. We do the same when we want to heat up our water. We just fire up the water heater and it lasts about 3 days and if we want hot water again, we just do this all over again.
What do you miss most about the city life?
I’m a huge foodie and Melbourne’s culinary scene is amazing so that’s what I miss most - dining out and enjoying thoughtfully-prepared delicious food. Living in a rural community, there isn’t much choice outside of your usual pub grub and token Thai, Chinese and Japanese restaurants. I’ve also just turned vegan so the cafe and restaurant choices are even slimmer! Luckily Ben’s family are based in Brisbane and I fly to Melbourne every couple of months (my parents and siblings still live in Melbourne) so I get to indulge pretty regularly.
You wear many hats day to day with Eco Warrior Princess, The Social Copywriter, managing an Off-Grid Permaculture Farm and we’re sure many other activities, we’re wondering if you have time to sleep at all. What is your secret to fitting so much in?
I focus on one task at a time. I am a hopeless multi-tasker, which is actually a good thing because focussing on one thing at a time means I accomplish things more quickly than if I was doing multiple things all half-assed. I have also learned to say no to those tasks/activities/requests that I consider non-essential. I also turn my phone off and close non-essential windows on my laptop when I’m working so I am not tempted to look at social media notifications and messages. I also don’t have access to my emails on my smartphone so that I’m not wasting time checking my inbox (I reckon I used to check it at least 15 times a day before I deleted it).
If anyone out there is wishing they could live a more sustainable lifestyle but isn’t quite sure how to begin, could you offer one or two tips of where to start?
First what I want to point out is that ‘sustainable living’ looks different for everyone. Some people live alone, others live in a shared house, others have children, some live in an apartment, whilst others in the suburbs. Its important to remember that there is no ‘right’ way to live sustainably. The underlying motivation for everyone who embarks on this conscious journey is the same: to minimise environmental impact. Each day provides many opportunities to make a better choices and that’s where I encourage you to start: one decision at a time. So, when you wake up and decide to have a shower, choosing to limit shower time from 10 minutes to 3 minutes to conserve water is an act of sustainability. When you bring a recyclable coffee cup and reject a takeaway coffee cup, you are committing an act of sustainability. When you use your recyclable bag and avoid a single-use disposable plastic bag you are choosing sustainability. When choosing to shop at local farmers markets instead of big chain supermarkets, again you are voting for sustainability. When you begin to understand that we as individuals have the power to create the world as we wish, you begin to understand just how important our decisions are, no matter how small they seem to be. So start there. And if you’re not sure what the better choice is, head over to my blog Eco Warrior Princess or do a quick search and you’ll find the information you need to help you make the most sustainable choice.
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