In today's interview, we chat with Arti, the creative mind behind @forageandsustain - an online publication based out of Toronto, that aims to change the way we live through sustainable practices and slow living. Forage & Sustain evolved midway through 2017 after Arti felt like something was missing from her life of freelance writing and running her online boutique paper shop. Read on to learn how she got started running her platform, her best low-waste transition tips, and more!
What is your story?
I usually describe myself as a “Jane of all trades”, simply because I’ve always had so many interests and never really settled on just one! If you were to look at my career trajectory, it would be all over the map (figuratively and literally). I studied Communications and Business at Wilfrid Laurier which granted me the chance to study in France for a semester. I’ve worked at startups in Toronto, lived in Shanghai teaching English, worked at a luxury home goods atelier in Mumbai, and started 2 of my own businesses. While my experiences might seem random, I definitely believe that everything we do prepares us for and leads us to that thing that we’re meant to do. In my case, all signs pointed to Forage and Sustain.
What inspired you to start your platform?
Waste, overconsumption and unethical work practices have always bothered me, and it wasn’t until I hit a rut in my freelance writing life that I realized I could do something about it. My experiences in other countries (both as a traveler and expat) educated me on ethical practices, minimalism, skilled craftsmanship, and intentional design.
I’ve always been a writer with a passion for design and aesthetics. I brought these things together as a way to talk about sustainability, while demonstrating that eco-living doesn’t have to compromise on style or comfort. It’s incredible to see in the short 2.5 years since launching, how the conversation around sustainability has blown up. When I started FAS in 2017, it was still such a “concept” versus a way of living as it’s become now.
What is your mission with your platform?
Sustainability encompasses such a wide range of things - it’s about choosing better, living simpler and making decisions not based on the individual, but on the collective. Asking how something was created, who made it, and how it got here is critical in being a conscious consumer, as is understanding how one’s decisions affect someone else’s. For me, it’s largely about slow living, minimalism, and consciousness on all levels - we don’t need to be doing it perfectly (I always say “progress over perfection” because trying to do it perfectly is not just next to impossible, but a quick way to alienate others from even trying).
I want to reach as many people as possible and help them alter their way of thinking (one that has mostly been instilled by the media and advertising), and show how small changes can lead to huge impact. Empowering people to take responsibility themselves and create change by being advocates for the earth and marginalized folk is important. I also want to take a step back in time and revive the crafts, lifestyles and practices of our ancestors that not only preserve the earth (natural dyeing for example), but that also reconnect us to the land. I do this via beautiful, hands-on workshops where we connect with each other, ourselves and the earth.
What does a typical day look like?
Flexible schedules usually mean there is no standard! Every day is often different for me. Sometimes I have a busy week with meetings, co-working dates, and lots of planning, creating, and scheduling, whereas other weeks are slower and I have the luxury of cooking fun meals, going on walks, and restoring my equilibrium.
Favorite part of your job?
There are so many aspects to it that I absolutely love, and working for myself is a non-negotiable at this point! I love being able to have slow days, time to myself, and a schedule that is targeted at wellness in business, versus overwhelm. I also adore meeting like-minded people in similar spaces as me, and exercising my creativity in many forms, from digital to hands-on.
Most challenging part about running your own platform?
Doing it solo! As much as I love having my own business, when things get busy or tough, it can be challenging having to navigate everything on your own. I’m grateful for the community I’ve fostered, and the growing number of especially women entrepreneurs who are just as interested in creating containers of support for each other as I am.
Best advice for someone just starting to learn how to transition into a more low waste lifestyle?
Be easy with yourself and go slow! This is a marathon, not a sprint, so make changes that feel good, manageable and affordable. It can feel daunting, like you have to overhaul your entire kitchen/lifestyle etc., but slowly switching out old for new is the key to long-term sustainability within sustainability!
If you weren’t running your platform, what would you be doing?
I don’t think I’d be doing anything else work wise, as Forage and Sustain is truly where my heart is. But I wouldn’t be opposed to languid afternoons in the south of Italy, gorging on homemade pasta and visiting art museums :)
What has been one of the most rewarding experiences being in your line of work so far?
Cultivating a community of incredible people, mainly women, who blow me away with their ideas, actions and support! It’s also been so so special and rewarding to see people make changes in their daily lives, to hear how things I’ve shared have helped even the most change-resistant amongst us make better choices, and how my messaging and words have uplifted and inspired others to take action - it fills me up!
Best piece of advice to others that are wanting to start blogging/creating an Instagram platform?
Make sure you know your “why” - many people seem to want to become influencers for the free stuff and glam life, but that lifestyle will peter out quite quickly. Have a real intention and goal with what you’re sharing, be authentically you, and do it from the heart.
Life motto you live by?
I don’t have a specific inspirational quote or quippy saying to share, but I always live by thinking of myself at 80 years old - what will I look back on and smile at, what will I wish I had done, will I be able to feel like I lived fully? This type of thinking is what propelled me to move around the world so many times, start businesses and plunge into the deep end, even if unprepared. I really do let my heart guide me because life is short and we have to soak in every beautiful droplet we can while we’re here!
What’s next for you and Forage?
A few fun things! I’m going to be launching my 2020 workshops very soon, and this time we’re adding lots more than just the one we did last year. Each workshop is an experience in itself, one that fosters connection, community, and a new skill or craft. I’m also going to be focusing more on the business side of things, so stay tuned for new business services offered from Forage and Sustain :)