Akinda Muse: Heather Hurst

“Akinda Muse” follows the essence of conscious consumption by looking for inspiration from women around us. It is one thing to talk about sustainability, and another to live it.

When it comes to conscious living there are those that discuss it and there are those that embody it. Heather takes action. We lean in with Heather to hear how sustainability exists in her life - in simple forms elegantly tied together with a familiar theme of letting go and giving our chaotic lives a pause by living with intent and passion.

Heather paints the landscape of what it is like to step back, take a breath, and notice the beauty that surrounds her life. She dives into her beliefs on moving constantly forward with small actions to create impact both personally and environmentally.

We leave our chat with Heather with a lingering taste of simplicity and passion - to go at life with ease and dedication to finding purpose.

 

Q

How do you define conscious / ethical / sustainable living?

A

To me, living a conscious and sustainable life means considering the impact of my actions as part of a larger system when making choices. Who are my choices affecting? In what ways could my actions be causing harm to other humans, animals, or the environment? Are my choices creating or taking away from my dream life? My choices aren’t always perfect, but I think when we contextualize them this way, we begin to see ways in which we can better use our time and energy. I feel my most human when I am staying curious, learning, and improving every day.

Q

What inspires you to live the way you do?

A

Pretty morbid, but if I were to die tomorrow, I would know that I strived to make the little moments just as special as the big moments. I would distinctly remember concerts and trips with loved ones, but also the clinking of my fork on my breakfast plate in the silence of the morning, how it feels to breathe out of both nostrils after getting over a cold, the way my mom calls me “love angel”, and the tree that creates different shadows on my desk depending on the time of day. I also care greatly about inspiring joy and compassion in others by sharing my experiences in living mindfully and protecting our incredible home.

"if I were to die tomorrow, I would know that I strived to make the little moments just as special as the big moments."

Q

What is the secret to finding passion each day?

A

Knowing my purpose, my mission, my “Why”. I write out my Why in my room, at my workspace, and anywhere else I can find. The Why is so necessary because we are not always going to be motivated, and even our dream lives have certain unglamorous aspects that can make us question our path when things get hard.
Getting connected is also crucial. Knowing that someone else is going through the same thoughts, trials, and tribulations that I am at any given moment is so empowering and reassuring. Social media can be a valuable tool to stay grounded in your journey if you use it to reflect what is important to you. Mindlessly letting it manipulate you into feeling worse about yourself, or the state of the planet is not productive. My current idol is Lauren Singer (@trashisfortossers) who founded a package-free store of reusables to make sustainable living more accessible. All of her trash from the last 8 years fits in one mason jar. If she can do it, why not me?

Q

What is the most difficult part of living more consciously?

A

Confronting how far we are from where we want to be. We are so desensitized to plastic that when I started my sustainability journey I thought I was doing pretty well with my reusable water bottle and grocery bags. I soon realized almost everything in my house had some form of plastic with it. On top of that, I had a painful awakening upon reading Alan Weisman’s “Earth Without People” (read: lots of things could flourish without humans around). It’s difficult to reject the system we live in, but it enables us to develop wasteful habits. Additionally, finding businesses that are not just using “greenwashing” tactics to exploit sustainability as a marketing tool can be tricky! This is why it’s more important to start small, act imperfectly, and get the conversation going than it is to be perfect overnight. It’s all about the ripple effect.

"We are so desensitized to plastic that when I started my sustainability journey I thought I was doing pretty well with my reusable water bottle and grocery bags. I soon realized almost everything in my house had some form of plastic with it."

Q

What is your opinion on sustainable fashion?

A

We need to start treating our clothing as long-lasting, functional art pieces made by the earth’s natural resources, and not as throwaway items in a trendy costume closet.

heather

Fashion is inherently creative, so I think to be sustainable it is imperative for brands to switch the narrative from “how can we make as much as possible” to “how can we reinvent what we have already created?” The cycles for selling clothes used to operate in two seasons, spring/summer and fall/winter. Many fast fashion companies like Zara, H&M, and Forever 21 are now operating in up to 50 design cycles per year, meaning new collections are coming out almost every single week. This leads consumers to view fashion as disposable, so it feels inconsequential to impulse buy 5 items you kind of like, then throw them away. Out of control production and virtually zero recycling of old products is a huge reason why the fashion industry contributes to 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. (UNFCC).

If I think I need something new I will first ask myself how can I repair what is broken, borrow from someone, buy secondhand, or support a handmade, ethical business that uses sustainable materials? I now strive to own less, focusing my closet on a handful of high-quality basics that can be enhanced with unique secondhand pieces. My closet is two moods: either a $400 dollar Ulla Johnson dress or a used $1 bra I got at Salvation Army. I don’t feel insane for spending more money on a piece I will proudly outfit repeat in for 10 years, especially when most of my items are purchased pre-owned for under 10 dollars. Shout out to Akinda Suits for being a great brand for people looking to build a “forever” closet with versatile items that last in style and quality beyond a season. We are so disconnected from the effort and resources required to produce just a single piece of clothing, so I really appreciate the way that your brand slow-releases collections and stays rooted in production transparency and quality craftsmanship.

Q

How has living in this way impacted you?

A

I am so much happier, clearer-headed, and more passionate about life when I move through each moment as consciously as I can. I think most people live for vacation, that one great shot on Instagram, a holiday party, or waiting for something about their circumstances to change. When we do this we are missing out on so many sweet moments every day. I am getting to the point where enjoying my morning coffee at home can feel as luxurious as touring a winery in California. We can to tap into really living at any time when we choose to slow down and let our five senses do their thing. I get it, it’s 2019 and we’re all booked and busy, but I make an effort at least once a day to stop, look around, and actually feel everything I am experiencing in that moment. It’s life-changing.

"I am getting to the point where enjoying my morning coffee at home can feel as luxurious as touring a winery in California."

Q

Do you have a mantra you live by?

A

“I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.” It’s hard, but I am retraining my brain to get as excited about the tiniest good things the same amount that I get pissed about the smallest bad things. We get really negatively wrapped up in traffic, the news, umbrellas breaking, and misinterpreted texts but forget to savor a sip of wine on a perfect night, look too long at a dog smiling, or stroke the sheets of a clean, safe, soft bed we get to crawl into. Instead of sulking over rush hour traffic, I remind myself that now I have more time for a really good podcast that I wouldn’t have listened to otherwise. I believe strongly in the law of attraction, and that what you spend your energy on will find its way to you.

Q

How does your process of conscious living evolve?

A

Focus on working toward many changes imperfectly, instead of trying to do everything perfectly on one day, or a few times. We must show ourselves grace, and remember that if we knew better, we could have done better, but that when we know better, we have a responsibility to do better. I look back on my life and am horrified at the plastic bags, Starbucks cups, and Forever 21 clothing that constantly filled my routine. Then I come home and see the dog food in plastic packaging, and remember I drive 80 miles a day to and from work, so I still have a long way to go. And that’s ok. Action is a wonderful antidote for fear and anxiety. Start to give yourself more credit for how far you have come, stay rooted in your Why, and leverage the insights and support of others to stay inspired and create momentum. 

"Start to give yourself more credit for how far you have come, stay rooted in your Why, and leverage the insights and support of others to stay inspired and create momentum."

heather