FRIDAY FOLLOW: ECOLIFECHOICES
CAN YOU TELL ME a little bit about yourself?
Hello! My name is Jihea Kim, my friends call me J or G, I’m 24 and I live in East London. I’m a Management Consultant; I’m currently full time on sustainability consulting projects. I absolutely love London; I first moved here to study for my undergraduate degree 6 years ago at the LSE.
Have you always been interested in sustainability?
As far as I remember, I’ve always been interested in sustainability but didn’t really know how to act on that interest. From a really young age (~10 years), I was conscious about lowering my waste, reusing and recycling. I remember having a recycling corner in my room- such a cool kid haha! I think it became a passion only in the past few years. I started my Instagram page just over one year ago and it really has helped motivate me as well as hopefully inspire others too. During my undergraduate degree I was lucky enough to choose ‘outside modules’ in topics that I was interested in, so I decided to study modules like Corporate Social Responsibility & International Labour Standards and Environmental Economics. Fast-forward a few years on my Management Consulting graduate scheme and I felt like something was missing. Helping large corporates improve their profit margins, retailers sell more, and introduce new technologies are all fairly interesting but definitely not a passion of mine. I therefore started my Instagram page as a way for me to express my passion for sustainability. I then subsequently decided that the Sustainability team at work was where I truly belonged! Since joining the team, my passion for low-waste, a circular economy, climate change, social issues has increased.
What advice would you give to people wanting to get into a more eco-friendly lifestyle?
Start with something easy! I started with a few reusables: bags, coffee cup, and water bottle. For me these small changes definitely helped spur larger changes. Don’t strive for perfection, but strive for constant progress and be kind to yourself. Celebrate every eco choice you make- I still do one year on- it’s what keeps you going!
What are the things you wish someone had told you at the start of your journey?
You don’t necessarily need to buy all these new things to be eco. Using what you already have is the MOST eco thing you can go! So reuse the hell out of whatever you already have and buy new/second-hand when you have to! Using what you already have saves you a heck of a lot of money too and who doesn’t love to save a bit of £££.
I see from your Instagram that you've gone litter-picking several times - how important do you think it is that people get involved in cleaning up their local communities?
I find this a tough one to answer because the litter shouldn’t be there in the first place. I think it’s so disrespectful that people don’t responsibly bin/recycle their rubbish. So whilst myself and others go round a clean it up to prevent it from entering our rivers and oceans, I often do question: why is it that I’m doing this? I don’t really want to be picking up pieces of crap but if not me/us then who? I think it’s important because of the consequences that plastic is having on our oceans and biodiversity but I don’t think it’s necessarily something we should have to do. If we all just took care of our own waste, then there would be no litter to pick up. Unfortunately, this ideal state seems quite far-fetched. I encourage people to litter pick but I don’t think it’s something we should have to do.
Tell us about a low-waste or eco-friendly product that you love.
Soap bars! I’m pretty sure the switch away from plastic bottles stemmed from the commercial motives of big brands. We have hand soap bars in our bathrooms at home and not only are they just as hygienic as bottled hand-wash, they are cheaper and last so much longer! Plastic-free and you can save money.
What do you not leave the house without?
My essential zero-waste kit includes: chilly’s water bottle, keep cup, a spare grocery bag for those spontaneous food shops and my bamboo cutlery kit. Helps me reduce my waste every single day!
What inspires you?
Loads of people! At this moment in time, all the students taking part in the climate strikes are an inspiration to me! Wish I was that proactive as a young adult. My favourite Instagram accounts are:
They are all inspiring women taking the eco space by storm! They have really helped motivate me on my eco journey.
Where would you like to see the world in 10 years time?
I’d like to see companies put sustainability at the forefront of their business plans and embedded deep into their corporate strategy. There is too much green washing happening right now. I want to see more sustainability roles on the c-suite of medium-large companies. I’d also love to see a shift in mindset of the average consumer. Right now there are loads of studies that prove that consumer want businesses to operate more sustainably, but this hasn’t yet materialised into their buying habits. Hopefully in a few more years, with a few more options, this will change. I also want to see sustainability become more accessible. It can be, at times, expensive to be zero or low-waste. I’d like to see some big companies lead in the change of making low-waste options more accessible to the average person in society, rather than only to those that are currently privileged enough to afford it. Having said that, there is also parts of low waste living that saves you money, such as reusables, buying second-hand and buying less in general!
All images have been supplied by the interviewee for sole use in this article.