Parents should act as role models for their children when it comes to the environment and its treatment. The most influential people typically in a child’s development are their parents. If parents can show in their behaviour and attitude how to positively affect the environment, children are likely to emulate their point of view and behaviour once they have grown up. An example of this is for parents to become vegan and explain their choice of diet to their children in positive terms for the planet. This is not to say they should in any way force behaviours on their children, but rather illustrate how their actions can have positive impacts, in the hope of inspiring their children to do the same.
As part of my series about what we must do to inspire the next generation about sustainability and the environment, I had the pleasure of interviewing May Deldari.
After becoming sick and tired of fast fashion’s devastating impact on the environment, May decided to launch her own vegan, consciously made lingerie and loungewear brand. This did not come without sacrifice, as May had to leave her promising career trajectory of becoming a criminal lawyer to fully invest in this new environmentally and socially conscious venture. May is now a Canadian social entrepreneur, who’s main goal is to create a positive impact by changing the way people consume and think about fashion.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I was diagnosed with a skin sensitivity issue from an early age. This meant that my skin immediately reacts to anything made from latex or other synthetic fabrics, such as polyester. When I was growing up, it was hugely disappointing that I couldn’t wear whatever I wanted like my peers, who could wear any number of exciting outfits that were denied to me. However, my biggest problem was with sleepwear, because due to my skin problem, I could only wear clothes that were breathable, soft and made of natural fabrics at night. This was incredibly limiting and frustrating. During my teen years, I started to think there should be an easily accessible alternative to these synthetic, fast fashion style clothes. After some research, I realized that there were only a few brands that offered semi-synthetic clothing and barely any that used purely organic materials. And so, the seed of an idea was planted to start a slow-fashion brand in my teen years. After I finished my university degree and I again had time to think about it, this is when the idea really took root. This was partly in thanks to all that I had learnt about the nefarious world of fast fashion. Now I understood that creating clothes like this would not only help people like me who suffer from an aversion to synthetic fabrics, but also be helping to create a world not dependent on the terrible practices of fast fashion. So instead of pursuing a career in the law, I chose a different passion. One that I had a personal affinity with and one that I knew I could take pride in. Both in terms of helping people and helping the environment around us for a happier and better world.
What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?
The mission of our company is to introduce an innovative, cruelty-free, PETA-Approved Vegan alternative to traditional silk. Persian Lotus Silk ™, our signature luxury fabric can be used to make durable and long-lasting garments, with very minimum damage to the planet. These clothes would represent a better-quality alternative to fast fashion clothes, which are worn little and then thrown away, adding to landfill problems, and perpetuating the vicious demand for new clothes catalyzed by changing fashion trends.
Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?
– We use high quality PETA-Approved vegan, natural fibers such as organic modal and our signature Vegan Silk ™ that is ethically crafted from organically farmed lotus plants. We have eliminated the use of harmful and toxic materials in the construction of our garments.
– Using effective yet environmentally friendly packaging for all our products. These include recycled and biodegradable plastic as the outer layer to ensure the package is waterproof (very important to do in Canada), organic cotton bags, and reusable cardboard boxes.
– We promote conscious living, caring for the environment and proper thought and care when it comes to the clothes people wear.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?
Business policies which promote sustainability and environmental consciousness have long been associated with additional costs and financial drawbacks. However, this is an outmoded concept, as many large multi-national businesses have proven that not only does adopting these types of policies not compromise profits but can actively drive them towards new heights. In fact, showing customers that your business is in some way environmentally conscious is good for profits in terms of a sales perspective. As people become increasingly aware of the world’s environmental problems, they have become more cognizant of purchasing products which report to have some sort of positive relationship with an environmental issue.
A survey conducted in 2019 by the Center for Sustainable Business in New York, showed that shoppers are increasingly likely to opt for products with some sort of green affiliation, and not only that but that they are willing to pay more for them. What surveys like this one is that being seen as a ‘green’ company, can boost your reputation in the public eye and therefore customer’s willingness to buy your products. An example is the eco-friendly kitchen ware brand bambu, (small b) which sells compostable dining ware. Although their products on average cost more than disposable plastic knives and forks, they continue to grow as attitudes to green product change and these products have become increasingly sought-after despite their higher cost to the consumer.
The youth led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.
Number 1– Parents should impress upon their children the beauty and wonder that the natural world can offer. This includes showing them how amazing natural spaces can have a positive effect on people’s mental and physical health. The Scouts, which is a long-established group that teaches children to be self-sufficient and prepared in nature, has championed this goal for many years. They encourage children to explore nature to understand how doing so can make you feel better both in terms of physical benefits and in terms of mental clarity. Parents getting their children involved in organizations such as this develop a respectful attitude for nature in their children.
Number 2– Parents should introduce their children to media which is dedicated to celebrating the environment and its protection. Books, films, TV and especially internet-related content will be especially useful in showing children the value of nature but also inform them in the multiple ways in which our actions can be responsible for the improvement or destruction of it. Getting a child invested in the work of people such as David Attenborough is a great example of how parents can achieve this. Not only does Attenborough highlight the splendours of the natural world, but he also draws attention to how we as a society are damaging the planet and ways in which we can reduce our harmful impact. If children are determined to consume internet content, as is the norm in many developed societies these days, they may as well watch something with an inspiring message about the preservation of the environment.
Number 3– Parents should act as role models for their children when it comes to the environment and its treatment. The most influential people typically in a child’s development are their parents. If parents can show in their behaviour and attitude how to positively affect the environment, children are likely to emulate their point of view and behaviour once they have grown up. An example of this is for parents to become vegan and explain their choice of diet to their children in positive terms for the planet. This is not to say they should in any way force behaviours on their children, but rather illustrate how their actions can have positive impacts, in the hope of inspiring their children to do the same.
Number 4– Parents can volunteer for or donate to an environmental charity to show support for positive change in this sphere. For example, they could donate to a charity which removes plastic waste from the ocean. The important thing here is to combine these efforts with an explanation to the young person as to why they are taking this action and the good that will come of it.
Number 5– Parents may also inspire their children to care about the environment by becoming an environmental leader in their community. This could mean starting a green project in the area or joining campaigns to encourage eco-friendly practices. An example could be starting a litter picking group to clean the local beach, park, or public spaces. Another may be working for a local trust which preserves woodland areas or nature reserves. In this way, the child will be able to see environmentally positive behaviour close to home and understand its effects on the people and area around them.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
–There will always be people that laugh at your ideas and do not believe in your potential, don’t be discouraged by their views.
– Don’t forget about your physical wellness and mental health. Try to not get overwhelmed by the frantic pace of modern life and make sure to find time to concentrate on your wellbeing. It will pay dividends in the long run to make sure that you practice self-care and ensure that you are monitoring your mental and physical equilibrium. In doing so, you are less likely to burn out and in the long run you will be more productive.
– Being an entrepreneur can get lonely. Make sure you have a great support system to help you through any challenges that you may encounter on your way to success.
– Maintaining your relationships can be tough. It is important to invest time in relationships that are meaningful to you. As an entrepreneur, it is hard to keep up with relationships and create a perfect work life balance, so it is important to prioritize connections that are valuable to you or risk their disintegration.
– Surround yourself with winners and strong-minded people. As an entrepreneur you don’t want to have to waste energy dealing with overly critical or stubbornly obstructive people. Having these positive people in your life will bolster your confidence and invigorate your passions.
You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
If I were to inspire a movement, its principles would be based on creating increased awareness of the catastrophic impacts that the fast fashion world is having on the environment. Even though the general public may not realize it, fast fashion, by which I mean the production of cheap and poor-quality clothing for the fulfillment of new trends, has a much wider impact than they might at first realize. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has calculated the fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions every year. As well as water pollution, air pollution and waste problems, fast fashion is also associated with several human rights and labour issues.
The movement I would like to generate would use the media, public demonstrations, and informational campaigns, to exert pressure on fast fashion brands and the public in order to get them to change their behaviours. This pressure would also extend to the government to lead them into enacting new policies to penalize the damaging practices of these organizations.
Do you have a favourite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?
For me C.S Lewis penned the best life lesson quote that I will always remember: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending”. For me this encapsulates perfectly how so many people are caught up wishing they had done things differently in the past, that they don’t start trying to make things better in the present. This especially resonated with me when I was having problems trying to reconcile my choice to leave my pursuit of being a lawyer. Instead of getting bogged down in what I thought I might miss out on or the life I could have led, I focused on what I could do in the moment to pursue my dreams of changing the world of fashion forever.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am grateful for the people who told me I couldn’t do it. You know, sometimes people try to project their own insecurities onto you. They keep whispering that you are not good enough or smart enough to rise to the challenge, to have a voice or to start your own business. They try so hard to dim your light and shift your focus. But what I learnt is to stay committed to learning, bettering myself and be grateful for my blessings. No matter what they think or say; I keep believing in my abilities and know that with hard work everything is achievable. So, in a strange way there isn’t so much one person that inspired me but a group of people who inspired me to prove wrong.