Have you ever thought about the impact your diet has on the environment? Allison has! This conscious creator, photographer and blogger went vegan to help animals and combat climate change. Her goal is to inspire others to make more sustainable choices through her stunning photography, without the added eco guilt.
Welcome to our “Sustainability Spotlight” series: We’ll be using this space to feature some absolutely amazing people in the environmental sphere. Watch this space and be on the lookout for more interviews and guest posts with eco influencers!
This time, we're featuring Allison Carol, a sustainable photographer and content creator who loves dishing out tips and tricks for staying eco. She especially loves vegan and thrifted fashion pieces which she loves featuring in her stunning photography. This is her story.
1. How did you get into sustainability?
I became interested in sustainability in college after I was vegetarian for a while. I decided to add a minor in Sustainability and was enjoying my classes. I later had a random college roommate that was vegan, and shortly after I went vegan too.
2. How did you start your website/blog/podcast/etc.?
Once I moved to California from Arizona after college, I started to take social media a bit more seriously — and I had more time too! At first I would just post aesthetic fashion and travel photos, but within the last few years I started to niche down a bit more and bring attention to things that mattered to me.
3. Which topic of sustainability do you cover/care about most (ex: zero waste, veganism, renewables)?
Once I sipped the vegan tea (metaphorically), there was no going back! I originally said I would cheat every once in a while and not put pressure on myself, but the more I learned and adapted the more it made me never want to go back. I started off just eating a plant-based vegan diet and then slowly started shifting my wardrobe, household, beauty/hygiene products, etc. to be vegan as well. Veganism isn’t something you can just jump right into one day, it takes time to transition your lifestyle and it’s important to give yourself grace.
I’d love to be zero waste and vegan, but honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever quite get there. I am a vegan foodie and there are some products you just can’t make as good at home (vegan cheese, sour cream, treats, etc.). Veganism will always be my priority, but I love incorporating low waste practices and products into my lifestyle. My husband isn’t vegan and unfortunately doesn’t care too much about sustainability, so sharing a space together you have to be flexible with one another. He’s already annoyed at the eco bamboo toilet paper and reusable tissues I buy haha.
The neighborhood I live in in California, surprisingly, isn’t very eco friendly and public recycling is very limited. We live in an apartment without a patio and without recycling (I have to drive my recycling to a nearby dumpster). Compost bins or a collection service is not a thing here either. Once we move into our house, have a yard, garden, etc. I think composting and a more low-waste lifestyle will be easier.
4. What’s one ecofriendly thing you do on the daily?
My neighborhood is very walkable in Old Town Seal Beach, so I walk to my pharmacy, to ship packages, to restaurants, to the pier, to my fave natural vegan soap shop, to the grocery store, etc.
5. Favorite eco hack?
My favorite eco hack would be bringing reusables with me everywhere! This includes various types of bags, containers (my favorite are silicone pop-up ones because they are lightweight and pack well in purses), utensils, 4 types of straws (silicone smoothie, metal cocktail, metal regular, and metal bent), water bottle, collapsible silicone coffee cup, etc. Bringing reusables has cut down on so much of my waste!
6. What eco products are you loving right now?
I recently just bought the Leaf razor and I am loving it! I also just bought a few Guppy Friend washing bags to use at the laundromat but I haven’t had the chance to use them yet. I love stasher bags, zero waste soap with soap sleeves, Dew Mighty facial serum bar, Grove Collaborative plastic free cleaning supplies, Youth to the People skincare, Thinx period panties, pretty much anything from Lush Cosmetics, Sodastream, etc.
7. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
If I could change one thing, it would be to make the world more vegan to combat world hunger. So many people die of starvation every day, but if more of the world adopted a more plant-based diet and if this food was more accessible we could end world hunger. Think of all the crops that are being fed to raise livestock; now imagine giving just a portion of those resources and food to humans instead. It’s truly mind boggling when you put it in perspective.
In addition to this, if food was more accessible and better distributed we wouldn’t have as much waste or hunger. So much food is wasted or thrown away before being able to be consumed. It’s important to support companies like Imperfect Foods, Misfits Market, Hungry Harvest, etc. that are trying to combat this issue.
We can’t change the decisions of others, we can only change our own decisions. However, if we lead by example and educate, hopefully we can make a greater impact on the world and influence others to do the same.
8. What have been some of your biggest challenges (in terms of sustainable living)?
As I mentioned above, accessibility is huge. Not having a garden, patio, laundry, recycling, garage, compost service/bins, etc. has been a challenge for me. In addition, sharing space and living with others who do not have the same values or interest you do in sustainability.
9. In your own words, how can we make sustainability more accessible?
I think a lot of the accessibility stems from the city, their budget, and their priorities. The neighborhood I live in is a much older community and there isn’t much emphasis on sustainability, but if you drive just 15 minutes away it gets better, and if you drive further into Los Angeles it gets better again!
There are monthly composting services that are available in Southern California, but then you are paying out of pocket to get rid of waste which is something not everyone has the privilege of doing. These composting services also have a driving range, and now that I have moved just 15 minutes south I am also out of range.
I mention these examples because I am trying to be a good and eco-friendly citizen, and the city and surrounding areas have made it increasingly difficult and hard to access.
Sustainability is complicated, and accessibility requires planning at a city infrastructure level to help make it convenient for people to learn to easily do the little things that can add up to big things.
Sustainability isn’t all recycling and composting though, other ways we can make it more accessible is to normalize reusing, repairing, and reworking what we already own, swapping clothing or items with locals (try your neighborhood Buy Nothing Facebook group), buying things secondhand, getting groceries & produce from places like Imperfect Foods that combat food waste, shopping locally, etc.
10. One piece of advice for someone wanting to make a change in their lifestyle?
My biggest piece of advice would be to take baby steps and not be too hard on yourself. You don’t have to fit all your trash in a jar and only eat salads to make a positive impact on the planet. Start small and make easy swaps, then once you feel comfortable with that, start to introduce more swaps.
People get intimidated with labels like “vegan”, “plastic-free”, and “zero waste” because it makes people feel like a failure if they aren’t perfect at it. Stop that mindset and think positively! You don’t have to label yourself and you can make it whatever you want it to be.
It’s better to have 10 people doing vegan, plastic-free, or zero waste, imperfectly than one person doing it perfectly (which by the way, doesn’t exist anyways). Just by considering making more thoughtful and conscious changes to your lifestyle, you’re already doing much better than most and you should be proud of that!
Do you have questions for Allison? Leave them in the comments!