Meet our Model, Erin Shea

Erin Shea has modelled around the world, studies Herbal Medicine and Enviro Science and is on a journey to weave sustainability into the fabric of her every day life. As the partner of Guy Turland, the restauranter and head chef behind the iconic Bondi institution Depot and global brand Bondi Harvest, Erin has sustainability through food, fashion and life engraved in her DNA.

Here, Erin shares her journey with Cirkular.

 

Cirkular aims to increase the intention of consumers to purchase with purpose. As a model that shoots regularly with some of the biggest brands, are you seeing a seismic shift in brands sustainability and environmentally conscious efforts?

"I’m definitely seeing more trailblazing companies that are implementing sustainable, and even regenerative practices into their core ethos: from the way that the fibres are farmed, to the fair pay of workers and of course, in recycling, reselling and revisioning the way that companies are structured.

There is still a long way to go and so many factors that go into making a garment, but there are many great examples of companies improving nearly every step of the supply chain, which gives me hope for a future where it is mandatory for all companies to eliminate their environmental harm when making products. 

I think that time will come soon, and we have amazing examples to look for and how to implement them."

How do you implement sustainable practices into your daily life? And what 5 tips would you share with the Cirkular community?

 "Some of my key daily rituals include:

  1. Always sleep on a purchase to make sure it is truly needed (not just wanted on a whim).
  2. Only buy new things/clothes if they can be used in multiple different contexts.
  3. Make changes that are sustainable for your life— small, incremental changes that you can keep true to may be more useful than large, romanticised changes that you can't sustain.
  4. Preference buying biodegradable clothing.

All clothing comes from the Earth in two forms, either as:

    • plant or animal products (made into biodegradable fibres such as wool, cotton, bamboo, silk, hemp).
    • or as fossil fuels (make into plastic based fibre such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, spandex)

When we buy plant or animal based fibres, it can be returned to the earth & biodegrade (even in a home compost pile!), unlike fossil fuel based fibres. 

 

  1. Make your own medicine! Something I’m especially passionate about— Plant medicine is biodegradable and can be returned to the earth after use." 

 

You are currently studying Herbal Medicine and Enviro Science, what led you on this journey of healing?

 "I spent a lot of time on my Grandparents farm outside of Orange, NSW while growing up, and have always appreciated being amongst the gum trees, and my grandmothers garden.

 I started studying a bachelor of Environmental Science online while working as a model in New York, and at the same time, I was also trying to try as many new things as possible.

I signed up for a class teaching ‘how to forage plant medicine’ upstate in the Catskill Mountains and fell in love with Herbal medicine while learning to identify wild plants and making them into medicine, like all of our relatives would have done at some time throughout history.

 From there, I transferred from my Environmental Science degree into a Bachelor of Health Science & Herbal Medicine so I could work with plants hands-on and share the way plant medicine changed my life with others.

 I’m now in the clinical component of my degree (with 5 months to go!) and am supporting patients with Herbal medicine to support physical and emotional health."

 

Soil and Soul is one of your mantra’s, explain the meaning behind this for you?

"While studying environmental science we had lessons in soil science, something I wasn’t very excited about to begin with. But then I learnt about the work of scientist Susan Simmard and her discovery of Mychorrihizal fungi— that there is a symbiotic network of fungi that connects nearly all living plants together in a web that allows them to exchange information and nutrients and helps these connected plants to survive — I fell in love with the concept that the natural world (us included) is so obviously interconnected and the ’survival of the fittest’ is often trumped by those who can work together the best in order to survive.

On a broader level, I have applied this concept to most of my life— everything is part of an ecosystem, whether that means us in the context of our community, an organ in the context of our entire body, or one plant in relation to its environment. 

When it comes to herbal medicine, I use this philosophy to think about problems holistically. How is a health challenge impacting or impacted by other systems? How is it connected to the friends you have, the house you live in, the stress you experience, or the food you eat?

This really informs how I apply herbal medicine to each individual person I see.

A few inspiring resources that helped my love of ecosystems & soil include:

 

In between takes you were reading Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus, tell us more about this book and why you chose it.

"It's a novel about an incredible chemist in the early 1960s. It follows the life of a woman fighting for equality in the scientific world, but when life gets in the way, ends up hosting a TV cooking show and tries to empower the women watching it with both a chemistry lesson and life lessons alongside it. I loved it!"

Follow Erin's journey here

Fashion Sustainability

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