Since becoming a mother, pursuing an ethical and sustainable life has been a high priority for Dutch TV and radio presenter Milouska Meulens (43). Below, Milouska reflects on her sustainability journey and offers sound, practice advice for others. Lucy von Sturmer reports.
Like many young women, sustainability wasn’t always the driving force behind Milouska’s purchasing decisions.
“When I went shopping in my early 20s, I only wanted to look good, and when I ordered something to eat, I didn’t think too much about where the ingredients came from.”
However all of this changed when she became pregnant.
“It’s a cliche, but I suddenly had this instinct to do whatever I could to protect the planet. I had this immediate feeling that I didn’t want to put any more pollution into the world.”
Small Steps – Buy Less & Start Swapping!
One of the simple ways Milouska and her partner Joris Marseille, (also a news presenter, and yes – they did meet on the job), have worked to become more sustainable is through simply consuming less and eating vegetarian.
“I feel fortunate because within my circle of friends, we share and exchange baby clothes and other things. It’s a nice experience, and because the children are all of various ages, we almost completely avoid having to buy new things. ”
Sustainability – What does it mean?
For Milouska, sustainability isn’t just about individual actions such as using less plastic or reducing her carbon dioxide consumption. It’s bigger than that.
“Sustainability is about reaching out and connecting with one another, and also with nature. It’s about having an awareness that when we destroy the environment, we destroy ourselves.”
Ditching the High Street
If it were up to her, she might just wear her favourite sweater each day while presenting in her current role on “Early Birds”, a Dutch TV show dedicated to exploring themes around animal welfare and the environment in The Netherlands.
However, her stylist Chananja de Kok, has different ideas. Last year, when Milouska expressed her interest in only wearing sustainable clothing, the two of them embarked on a journey to find attractive, yet sustainable clothing brands.
“I knew exactly which fast fashion stores I wanted to avoid, and the “no” list was long, but we soon realised our “yes” list was empty.”
After some initial research, they found a few brands which promised safer materials and working conditions for those who made them, but Milouska couldn’t identify with the look. “It was too “outdoorsy.”
“I didn’t always want to look like I was on the verge of climbing a mountain, so it was a relief when my stylist found sustainable fashion stores like Charlie + Mary.”
Sustainable Fashion – An Urgent Issue
Today, fast fashion is widely recognised as the second most polluting industry in the world, and almost every month horrific events unfold such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in 2013 and the death of over 1000 workers, or child refugees being discovered on the supply chain.
Pursuing sustainability in fashion has never been more urgent, and Milouska believes we can no longer afford to keep our head in the sand.
“My generation was really able to say “we didn’t know” – because we didn’t. But we do now! Today, I refuse to wear things that I know were made by others in oppressive or dangerous situations. And I struggle to understand how we can ignore this.
Milouska believes that fashion is not only about how good something makes you look, but how good something makes you feel.
“And this is not only about your appearance, but who you are in the world too.”
- Follow Fashion Revolution – a not-for-profit global movement calling for greater transparency in the supply chain. Follow “The Garment Worker Diaries.”
- Explore the blog sections on Well Made Clothes – an Australian based website which promotes sustainable clothing. Start with “There’s Political Power in Rejecting Overconsumption.”