This week we sat down with Lara Shannon, advocate for the environment and founder of EcoChick Adventureswho shared with us her career journey, what we can do to be campaigners for environmental change at home and how she finds the time to keep doing the things she loves.
1. Share your journey with us. What first sparked your passion to give back and do more for the environment?
I have always loved animals and being outdoors. We lived in front of a river so I spent most of my childhood playing amongst the trees and bamboo passages that lined it. I also grew up with dogs, cats and a horse to look after in my teens, so its been in my nature to care for animals for as long as I can remember.
Ive also always wanted to make a difference in the world so after Uni I went on to work for a number of media outlets in a variety of production, writing and marketing roles.
Then one day in my early 20s I saw a show about the orangutans and it was a light bulb moment. I knew I wanted to do more to raise awareness about wildlife conservation, so I quit my job and two weeks later saw a job for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) as their Corporate Relations Officer.
Whilst here I became a regular guest presenter on kids TV shows including Cheez TV, Saturday Disney and Totally Wild and since then I have been working as an environmental campaigner and media spokesperson on behalf of many causes in Australia and the UK, including Planet Ark, Keep Australia Beautiful, The Orangutan Project, The Jane Goodall Institute and others.
2. Along with being an inspiring advocate for environmental and social change, what are some things that you love to do?
Given my love for animals and being outdoors, after selling my house 18 months ago I decided to stop being a slave to an unnecessarily high mortgage and downsize my behind-the-desk commitments to follow my passions even further.
So I started up a dog walking and minding service which allows me to spend time with animals, keep fit and work on developing my Ecochick Adventures documentary series and year-round digital platform once the dog walks are done.
3. Living such a busy lifestyle, what are some of your top wellness tips and healthy habits?
Definitely taking the time to stop and smell the roses is an important one.
When I am walking around the park some days I find myself madly typing away on my phone checking social media, sending texts or checking emails and then I stop and remind myself to put the phone away, take deep breaths and experience the joy the dogs are getting out of running around with their friends. This makes me laugh often, which is another top tip to keeping well.
At the moment I dont work out at the gym, so it is just the walking and some stretching and occasional yoga.
I also eat a pretty good diet. I enjoy a red wine and dark chocolate but avoid fast food takeaway and cook almost every night. I try to buy organic where feasible and eat plenty of raw vegetables. I avoid dairy and really only drink water and black tea during the day, so the only sugary drinks I would consume is the red wineand that is full of antioxidants right?
Taking good quality vitamin supplements when feeling run down also helps give me a boost when I need it.
4. What are a few of the easiest changes people could make in their daily lives to begin to reduce their environmental foot print?
There are many easy ways to cut down on wasted energy around the home, which will also cut down bills. I see so many people leaving their lights, heating and appliances on that with one flick of a switch could massively reduce their CO2 emissions over their lifetime. Or chucking one or two items in the washing machine and dryer.
Transport is another massive one. Get out on foot more when heading to the shops or running local errands. Put a basket on the back of a bike and bundle your shopping in there, get fit at the same time too.
Eat less or avoid red meat totally if you can. Meat production and consumption has such a negative impact on the environment as well as on our bodies at the rate Australians consume red meat. And if buying any meat or seafood, find out where it comes from. Is it free-range, sustainably fished, locally produced etc. Making a commitment to purchase more ethically and sustainably produced meat, poultry and seafood is better for the local economy, the environment and animal welfare.
5. What advice would you would you give to your younger self?
I wish I had more confidence in myself and my abilities when I was younger, mind you it is something I still struggle with these days. so I would say just go for it, follow your dreams and dont let anyone try to tell you your ideas are too unrealistic or hard.
6. Whats next in store for you on your life journey?
Im looking forward to finally settling down into a new small home after living in transit for 18 months and having the time to work on the ongoing EcoChick Adventures TV documentary series. This will see me undertaking some more big outdoor and wildlife adventures that really do push you to your limits and change your outlook and attitude to life with every experience. I cant wait!
Tune into Lara Shannons debut EcoChick Adventures documentary, The Trans Borneo Challengescreening on Channel Nine this Saturday, 15th August at 3.00pm and encoring on GEM on 19th August World Orangutan Day.