Eco-Stories: Fiona Martin

Eco-Stories: Fiona Martin

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Eco-Stories: Fiona Martin

My name is Fiona Martin and I started The Eco-Interviews in October 2019 as a platform to share the stories of people who have awoken to the seriousness of our climate crisis, and have made changes in their lives and/or businesses to be better stewards of the planet. I guess I’m one of those people, too, so here is my eco-story.

I was “awoken” to the state of our climate crisis by my husband, who in turn had been influenced by his brother. My brother-in-law has been moving his life off-the-grid for the past few years and his family didn’t understand the reasoning behind it. My husband supported him and was turned on to many climate change resources and groups. 

As my husband told me about the dire state of melting sea ice, carbon ppm in our atmosphere, the disruption of the jet stream, and increased intensity of weather events, I felt quite helpless to make a change. We live a typical American lifestyle - I have to drive a car to work since there is no public transportation where I live, and we have to use air conditioning to make the South Carolina summers, which last almost 6 months at this point, bearable. 

That feeling of helplessness, like there’s nothing I can do to make a change, was the most upsetting part of realizing that we’re barrelling down this path to human extinction. Then I watched the documentary Cowspiracy in December 2016. This documentary focuses on the environmental impact of eating meat and dairy, which was the first I’d ever heard of this, and it clicked - I could stop eating meat and dairy! 

This realization gave me agency to start making changes in our lives. Going vegan was a 6 month process for us. We were getting married in April 2017 and I didn’t have time to plan a vegan wedding, but this gave me 4 months to do research, learn how to cook, and slowly make changes in our eating habits so that they’d become long lasting changes. You can hear more about my motivations to become plant-based in the video below. 

BodyUnited Interview with Fiona Martin

Changing My Personal Habits Decrease Carbon Footprint

This is an ongoing process for us, but it has been incredibly rewarding. I won’t go into the details of all of the changes that we’ve made, but here are some of the most significant ones:

  • Started a home garden. My husband is the one with the green thumb, and he started with 1 raised bed 4 years ago and now we’re up to 5 with berry bushes planted around the property as well. While we’re not completely self-sufficient with our garden, we do get beautiful, tasty, 100% organic fruit and vegetables from our garden throughout the year. This helps the environment, and our physical and mental health with all the yumminess.
  • Composting. Hand in hand with starting the garden, my husband started our first compost pile. We put all of our kitchen scraps in it (easy since we don’t eat meat), and other items that can be composted like paper towels, compostable parchment paper, some cardboard, newspaper, and compostable packaging. It has reduced our weekly bags to the landfill from 3 to 1.5. I would love to get down to zero bags to the landfill one day.
  • Avoiding single use items. We don’t have them in our house, and I try to avoid them as much as possible outside of the house. This means I bring reusable tote bags and produce bags to the grocery store, we have reusable water bottles that we take with us instead of buying bottled water, I use glass containers to store food and leftovers in the fridge, and if something is single use, I try to find a compostable version so it doesn’t go in the landfill.
  • Choosing not to have children. I know this is not an option for everyone, but it’s something that works for us.
  • Bringing awareness to our clothing choices. My husband and I do not buy clothing often, but of course, sometimes it’s needed. I’m having fun finding sustainable clothing brands like Rothy’s, Outerknown, and OORR Cycling. The items are more expensive than what you’d find in fast fashion outlets like Marshalls, but the quality is high, they last longer, and I feel more comfortable that they’re not exploiting people and the environment in their manufacturing process.

Changing My Business to Align with Environmental Goals

As consumers, they tell us that we can “vote with our dollars”. Much of what I outlined above falls into that category and just takes a bit of research and awareness. But as I progressed on this journey, I found myself with internal conflict over some of the clients I served in my digital marketing business FGM Internet Marketing.

One client in particular, a long term client, was really bothering me. I did digital marketing for a pest control company, which is a lucrative business here in South Carolina. Not only do they kill household pests, a very popular service was mosquito control, which involves spraying the entire yard with pesticides. My husband and I have never paid for professional pest control services for our home, and we certainly won’t going to bring these sorts of chemicals into our home now, where they could harm us, our dogs, and potentially poison the food we were growing outside. The cognitive dissonance of knowing these products are harmful, yet convincing people to use them finally became too much and I parted ways with this client.

Over the past 2 years, I’ve had to part ways with a few clients that have caused me internal conflict. It’s been very hard because I’m turning away money that is my livelihood. There are many people that think you should accept anyone’s money, no matter what they do. I know I’m not the only marketer who has struggled with this, and my struggle is on a small scale. There are marketers working for big agencies who do work for the oil and gas companies, GMO seed and crop companies, and Big Pharma. At some point you have to examine what makes you happy or unhappy in your life and make a change.

Part of me going through this difficult process is the hope that I can replace these types of customers with clients that I would love to work with. If there are pest control companies out there promoting their products, why can’t I promote sustainable products instead? This is the direction I’m looking in for 2020. I’m happy to have already started working with some dream clients in the health and wellness industry. I’d love to expand my client base to serve businesses in industries like sustainable clothing, plant-based nutrition, sports and physical wellbeing, and education/self-improvement.