July Spotlight: Nadine Richardson

A Black Woman’s Journey Through A Sustainable Space

Growing up on the islands, I do not remember any sustainable practices being done in our household or anywhere else. No recycling, or the choice to use less plastic. We bought new clothes and shoes every chance we got. My journey towards sustainability started with my journey towards healthy eating. I wanted to care for my body the best way I could. This led me to start focusing more on whole foods and eating a more plant-based diet. In learning about all the chemicals and not-so-good stuff they put in food, I found out about the toxins that are in our cleaning supplies, household products, and personal care items.

So now I was tackling my body and my personal environment. I stopped using any OTC medication, and I also switched all my personal care items and household cleaning supplies to all-natural nontoxic options. I either decided to DIY them or buy from trusted brands. After cleaning up my personal environment, a light just went off. What about the rest of the environment? As I was using brands which were both clean and green, I started researching ways to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. What is the point in creating a healthier space for myself and my children if we do not help create a healthier planet? It seemed overwhelming at first, but I knew this was going to be a slow journey for me.

We are a family of four and lifestyle changes do not happen overnight. I started slowly, first with metal straws––carrying them around everywhere. I started using less and less plastic, and going for options I can reuse. I started composting most scraps to use in my garden. I then started to implement more slow fashion practices. Thrifting, buying secondhand, and supporting sustainable clothing brands have been such an amazing eye-opening part of my new lifestyle. Thrifting is another thing that is seen as “dirty” or “white” by some people in my community. But this could not be further from the truth. I want to use my platform and voice to show how much of an impact can be made if everyone was more mindful of our clothing purchases.

I must note it was awfully hard to find women of color in this space. Living off the land and being sustainable in our practices is something our ancestors did very commonly. But somehow, we as a community have strayed away from these practices. With so many systems in place that do not have our best interest at heart (like the healthcare system), it’s important we go back to the way of our ancestors and become more sustainable.

This is the reason I go so hard in sharing my sustainable journey. I want my diverse audience to know sustainability is for everyone––little things make a big impact.

Being more eco-friendly is also seen as a hippie-white-thing by some people in the black community. Yes, we as black people should do our own research, but nonetheless, representation matters. It is important for sustainable brands to be more diverse. When I look at some big sustainable clothing brands, there is a lack of diversity and often no black influencers––as if this is not a space for black people. Sustainability is a space for everyone, no matter race or socio-economic status. We all live on this planet, and it is our responsibility to take care of this beautiful earth. And we need influencers and brands alike to spread the message everyone is included.

Since then, I have found some amazing women of color who are using their platform to promote sustainability. This is the reason I go so hard in sharing my sustainable journey. I want my diverse audience to know sustainability is for everyone––little things make a big impact. And to the black community, yes, sustainability is our thing––has been for years. My goal is also for sustainable practices to be the norm for my children.