SOMADINA meets... Marieke Eyskoot
It is very exciting to introduce you all to Marieke Eyskoot in this edition of SOMADINA… meets. Marieke is a sustainable fashion and lifestyle expert who through her 15 years of work in the industry has helped put conscious living on the map.
Many of you have probably already heard of Marieke after binging on her book ‘This Is A Good Guide For - A Sustainable Lifestyle’. Marieke’s book gives a clear and comprehensive guide on how to pursue a sustainable lifestyle, whether you’re a sustainability veteran or a newbie. I couldn’t wait to chat with Marieke about all things conscious lifestyle and how sustainability not only affects the environment but also our mental well-being.
One of the things that you discuss in your book is the relationship between fashion and body image?
The ideal we have to live up to in the fashion and lifestyle business is ridiculously limited. In short: you don’t look like you’re supposed to look and that it is only when you buy items of clothing that will you belong. Much of the messaging is specifically intended to make us feel bad about ourselves and then to offer the solution in the form of their products. We know it doesn’t work, and yet we keep trying. We are tricked into incessantly buying more and more, which makes it nearly impossible to become truly sustainable. This commercialisation of our body image lies at the heart of our struggle to change and our behaviour. We need to actively recognise and resist the way the industry makes us feel, to save both ourselves and the planet.
In the fashion and beauty industry a very narrow in terms of image and astandard of how we should look exists. For instance, if you buy an item online most of the time models don’t represent what you look like, so chances are that when your clothes arrive and you finally get to try them on they won’t look on you like they did on the model. This can sometimes cause us to feel inadequate or unhappy with how we look. That is why it is so important to change the attitude around body image and perception of beauty that the fashion industry portrays.
Sometimes, I feel as though whenever there is a movement it involves putting the other side down. For example whenever the ‘real women’ debate emerges it only ever seems to include curvy or plus side women. It tends to exclude women who have naturally smaller frames.
It is so important to consider this perspective. When we talk about models being too small, this is not to say that there is something wrong with that. It’s just that their size is not the only one – there are many more shapes and sizes out there, which should be welcomed and represented too.
I think that a lot of the time people don’t realize that they are doing this. We shouldn’t be forced into a debate that it’s one side over another. A sustainable view is one that embodies inclusivity across the board, regardless of body type. I think that the key take home message is that we need to view beauty through a wider lens.
One of the quotes in your book is ‘Do something that your future self will thank you for’ What message would you give your younger self, knowing all that you know now?
When I look back on my younger self, I realize now that I spent so much time worrying that I wasn’t ok. That I was too big, or I that didn’t fit in. But now, I realize that these things don’t matter and that it was such a waste of my time. If I could go back in time, I would tell myself that ‘you are enough’ and that ‘you are ok’. I recognize that I'm not perfect by any means but that’s ok! This book is about good and not perfect. That is one thing that people sometimes misperceive about sustainable living, it isn’t possible as a human to be completely sustainable but what’s important is making as many positive steps as possible no matter how small. Sometimes trying to be perfect can prevent us from taking the necessary steps towards positive living, which would be a waste of all the progress that we could have made!
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I aspire to wisdom. I'm in awe of so many wise women, which is so inspiring to me. I would like to be able to set myself up in a way that as I get older that I still remain fit and healthy in mind and body so that I can still inspire others and remain an active, positive part of society.
If you had to take away three key points from your book what would they be?
1. It’s about being good not perfect. Don’t sell yourself short and acknowledge the positive steps you're taking. Don’t let not achieving so called perfection, stop you from taking steps towards a living a more conscious lifestyle.
2. Try and recognize and actively resist the pressure that we face from society to look good. Sometimes, I think that due to the pressures we face on our body image we get caught in negative cycle that isn’t helping us move forward towards a more inclusive and open society.
3. The belief that ‘you can’. Sometimes it’s easy to think that your impact may not mean much in the bigger picture but sometimes it’s important that we see things in another way. Just think, if everyone in the world made positive daily choices we would be an unstoppable force.
How would you describe your typical day?
Oh gosh, I don't really have one! Many days are different, which is usually great, and I am grateful for the various things I get to do. Typically a day at least contains a work-out of some sort, porridge breakfast and lots of herbal tea - and in between doses of meetings with inspiring people, public speaking about sustainable lifestyle, hosting or moderating a meeting or event, consultancy for (starting) ethical brands or stores, and other advocacy like social media and press related activities.
What is the best part of your job?
Being able to empower people who want to live more sustainably, but don't always know how. All the messages I receive from people who read my book or took part in an event at which I spoke are just everything you do it all for. It is such an honour to hear that they now for the first time really know what to do, that they will only buy from stores or brands in the book, that it's their favourite gift for friends and family, that they've realised what they want to study or become.
What is the worst part of your job?
Being on your own, and not being able to do everything. I have a tendency to feel slightly lonely, which still seems to be a taboo in society. But I sometimes very much miss being part of a team, discussing, conferring, and just belonging. It of course has its up sides to be completely independent and free, but there are down sides to freelance-ness too. Also, there is just me, so I can't do everything I would want to or am approached for, which can be frustrating. There is still so much out there to sink your teeth in :)
What are the 5 things in your wardrobe that you have applied the 30 wears rule to?
This was so hard to choose!
1. Puffy-sleeved grey sweater, second hand from Etsy. I love the combination of cool, modern, with wide, exaggerated sleeves. My style is very much minimal with a twist.
2. Crew neck black jumpsuit with open back from a second hand from charity store. I adore a good jumpsuit, how easy and versatile they are. This item is one of the ones I get the most questions about.
3. Cobalt blue crew neck top, second hand from Etsy. Cobalt blue is my favourite colour, and I aim to wear a bit more colour (I tend to go for navy, grey and black), this one really pops.
4. Breton stripe navy light knit sweater from People Tree organic/Fairtrade cotton. This is the perfect staple, from one of the most important and iconic ethical fashion brands out there.5
5. Grey natural felt slippers, a gift from husband. What can I say, I love warm feet (and him, of course ;)).
What are you top 3 vegan/vegetarian dishes?
1. Three ingredient banana cookies: my friends' favourite, I always get asked to make them: banana, shredded coconut and cocoa powder combined, yum...
2. Veggie burgers/patties, from either beetroot or shredded parsnip or broad beans/peas or... chick pea salad, with whatever is leftover in the fridge, the perfect way to not let anything go to waste (or put the leftovers on top of a cauliflower pizza)
3. Oatmeal porridge anything: mostly breakfast with (warm) apple, banana, cinnamon, nuts/peanuts, but I will also eat it savoury, with mixed veggies, protein, spices (to be honest this is my real favourite, I can always eat porridge!)
What are the three main ways that you have integrated sustainability into your home?
1. Almost our entire interior is second-hand, from the floor to the bed frame to the sofa to the table. There is so much great, high-quality stuff out there that can be re-purposed or up-cycled.
2. We separate not only paper, glass, plastic but also organic waste, and make compost in our garden, which means that we can grow a few veggies, herbs and fruit that we can integrate into our recipes!
3. We often shower together to save water (yes, only for that reason ;)).