"I'm just a soul whose intentions are good...."
As I continue on my journey towards intentional living, I catch up with Larissa Stewart, former pearl now living a sustainable life on the West Coast.
Living it - THE Sustainable Life
An interview with Larissa Stewart, an extended part of THE pearl family living mindfully in Washington state
Q: There are so many terms and labels thrown around lately – Sustainable Living, Zero Waste Life, Minimalism. How would you define your lifestyle?
A: Honestly, I think if you can commit to living 'Sustainability' - then you've embraced bits of a zero waste & minimalism mindset. They all go together. I found it was really difficult to adopt one way of thinking and to just have it stop there. All of it became an obsession!
Q: What inspired you to start this journey?
A: I remember I was planning a trip to come home to Maryland & I had watched a YouTube video of an acro yoga, fruit eating, Austinite - and she traveled all the time with just a 20-liter pack. That’s it. All of her possessions fit in this small everyday sized back pack. I was JEALOUS! Right then and there I was completely INSPIRED to dive into minimizing my life.
Q: What are some of the initial steps you took?
A: Growing up, "thrifting" was a fun hobby that I had always loved. I was really into finding treasures and deals. So, when I started downsizing all of my belongings- I started with my closet first. I realized I could very easily shop secondhand almost completely. I quit fast fashion shopping. I cut out brands that advocate trends, and companies that don’t always value the safety and well being of their factory workers. Sure these trendy stores were fun and they were always filled with inexpensive and new goodies. But for what? The price of someones livelihood?
After tackling my closet space and my husband's things, everything just sort of started unraveling. How unnecessary my thought process as a consumer had been all these years. I grew up in a modest family, but as I aged, life became like most peoples. You know - filled with busy work days, long hours, traffic, drinking to 'relax', and it affected me financially. I always wanted to be wearing something shiny and new. It kept me feeling fresh, and on top of my game. Which seems silly but it’s not, it’s common. I feel like we're all in a place like that at some point, be it clothing, cars, etc. Purchasing material things to make us feel validated.
Moving out of the city and into a smaller town filled with less things and less big box stores, has given me the space I needed to create the change I had longed for. Since moving to another region of the US, I've quit eating meat, have converted our home to a vegan one, am on my journey to a zero waste kitchen (baby steps), condensed my closet to about 50 items TOTAL, and have even rerouted my career to really mirror my values.
And I'm definitely not done.
Q: List some of the challenges you’ve encountered, if any. How have you overcome them?
A: GUILT. When you start to take on all of these new and exciting changes it’s so easy to feel guilty about tripping up. You just can't beat yourself up over it. You're undoing everything you've learned and lived your whole life, so be gentle with yourself. You’ve taken steps towards giving yourself the best chance at an amazing and intentional life.
Also, I love snacks. I worked really hard to research and find all the vegan goodies. But about 90% of those come in plastic packaging. So I gift them to myself every now and then. I really attempt to not feel bad about it.
Q: Do you feel your partner, family + friends support you? Have any of them embraced this lifestyle as well?
A: Surprisingly I have a ton of support. As a born and raised meat eating Texan, I am definitely the black sheep of the family. But it’s been about a year and a half and since I started adapting veganism and now my husband, sister, business partner, and a few friends have gone meatless! You've got to remember that people LOVE you and they ADMIRE your truth and authenticity. Be proud of your change and confident in what you believe in. People eat it up!
Q: Describe a ‘day in the life’ of Larissa. Focusing on the biggest changes you’ve had to make to be more mindful of this new lifestyle.
A: Let’s see...
Well I've definitely made major diet changes. So I often drink my veggies and nutrients in the morning, in a GLASS straw! Always walking out the door making sure I have my grocery kit in tow. This is a sturdy and large canvas bag filled with mesh bags for my veggies, jars for my bulk items, and my to-go bamboo cutlery in case I go out for lunch. I never go anywhere without a container of some sort for my coffee, and water.
My husband rides his bike the 14 miles to work on most days. But if its rainy or cold, I like to drive him in. Having one car has worked out for us so far. It will probably change soon, but for those who think it can’t be done - just try it!
Grocery shopping is really quick and easy now, too. I just hop over to our local farm stand and fill up on fruits and veggies for the week. I typically leave with a total of $20. Keep in mind this is for my husband and I, dinner and lunches for the week!
When I'm out and about I definitely shop local before heading to Target or Whole foods. All of our local shops, also source locally and are pretty conscious - so in that sense I've really become very close to my community.
Dinner time! Cooking at home is really great and simple since you're using fresh ingredients and shopping minimally. Making enough for dinner and leftover lunches helps us save money and keeps our diet nice and clean. Nothing goes to waste, scraps get tossed in the compost bin, and all is good. I think we need to take out our trash maybe 3 times a month? And most of that is kitty litter!
And to end my day, grooming has becoming SUPER simple. I think I have about 4 products in my shower, and that can still be minimized. Even as an aesthetican, my skincare routine has been cut in half. All thanks to my diet, sleeping pattern, yoga, and environment.
Q: If someone wanted to start on this journey as well, what advice would you give? Books to read, blogs to follow, resources?
A: Documentaries and YouTube research have been my favorite way to feed my brain. I can watch and/or listen while I'm cooking, getting ready for my day, or before bed instead of regular television. I really like following vlogs of people that lead lives I admire. And I love Pinterest for ideas and inspiration!
A few of my favorite documentaries are found on Netflix:
Living On A Dollar A Day
The True Cost
These documentaries don't include animal abuse imagery and are really great for FACTUAL, sturdy information. Which is great, because it can speak to all audiences.
Q: Do you feel like you’re making a difference?
A: Absolutely. Being a service provider within the wellness industry - you have a huge voice. I feel privileged and grateful that I've found this motivation to change how l live. I feel even more honored to care for the women in my community, and am beyond happy to share any info or support.
Most of us really are doing our best. And I believe when you love and nurture yourself, you can without a doubt make all the difference to others. When you are well, and full of life you carry the space to help others and make that difference we all hope to find.