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Onze Sustainable Warriors: Brune

At Sungevity there are some 180 Solar Warriors that work towards that one goal: powering 5 million lives with sunshine by 2030. Making our office a fun place and passionately selling solar panels is however not the only thing they do for a better world. Sustainability does not end at our orange front door. That is why this summer we will interview some of those people that inspire us: our Sustainable Warriors. 

Brune is an excellent example of such a Sustainable Warrior. “I am probably the most sustainable person you’ll meet here” she said when asked about her sustainable way of living. Not only is she bright, funny, and a great Solar Warrior, she tries to do everything she can to cut waste out of her everyday life.

Hi Brune, you have set some high expectations for this interview. Can you explain why you think you are the ‘greener person’ around?

“Well, yes, I try to do my bit and that starts with a zero waste lifestyle. I try not to buy anything new and actually I don’t think I bought anything new since I moved to Amsterdam two years ago. The last thing I bought was for Christmas and it was not even really new. It was a Mud Jeans, which is a brand that makes old jeans into new ones. And I have my own veggie box, for example. Also, I moved twice with my boyfriend, and everything we have is from Marktplaats or we found it in the street.”

“It makes you creative. It’s not all that hard and when you think about it, it is also way cheaper not to buy new things. With the same baking soda you can remove stains from your shirt, make your own deodorant or laundry detergent.”

Have you always been very conscious about sustainability?

“I guess it was always somewhere, yeah. My parents are market people for example. They buy local stuff, but they are not necessarily super sustainable per se. Although most people who know my parents are not super surprised about me being sustainable, haha.”

“The sustainability button clicked most when I was in New York. I was working for a company where the boss suggested making savings by throwing away half of the stuff that we produced. So, producing more, would cost us less. And I was like: “No. That doesn’t work, let’s not do that because that is not a good idea.” So that’s where it really started, I wanted a change in my life. We get a lot of happiness out of buying. When you asked someone in high school “what are your hobbies?”, it was often something like ‘shopping with my friends’. I think that’s insane. I switched careers and I volunteered at the Zero Waste House in Paris. I met a lot of interesting people there who taught me a lot. When I moved to Amsterdam I immediately started with my veggie box, compost, those things.” 

You are getting married next year, congratulations once again! I heard rumors about a zero-waste wedding. I have never heard of it before, what does it entail?

“Well, it is actually not that complicated. We will use no disposables for the celebration. We are gonna try to rent our outfits or get them second hand. There are a lot of wedding dresses that are only worn once but are super expensive. For it only to be worn once makes no sense to me. And you can easily rent a nice tuxedo. We are thinking about putting on the invitation that we would like that nobody buys anything new. But that is of course a tricky one. And, the invitation itself will be of grained paper so that flowers can grow out of it.”

“The venue is on a beautiful location in France, and in September I will go there for roses cutting (‘stekken’). So I am going to cut from an existing flower to make a new one, for our own wedding.  We also don’t wanna do meat. Rather fish, because we are getting married close to the sea. There is gonna be carpooling, tap water of course, stuff like that. We might come across other ideas.”

Is your fiancé just as crazy about sustainability as you are?

“He is the perfect person to live with, considering the need for a sustainable lifestyle because he is very reluctant to change. I needed to convince him in a slow pace. Most of the time, people are just not aware of what kind of changes they can make themselves. It’s just little changes that are very easy to make.”

Can you think of ways to make it fairly easy for people to start being more sustainable (aside from getting solar panels)?

“I think there are two main starting points to living more sustainable. The first one is to look around in your bathroom, and realizing that from now on, you don’t need to buy new products. There are many ways to replace expensive and wasteful products with things you can make yourself. You’ll find that they are way cheaper and last way longer. But finish your products first of course, haha.”

“The second starting point is to take a look at your bin. There you can easily find what kind of waste is the most common and what thus can be used less.”

Do you personally find it hard to be sustainable?

“I think in the Netherlands it is particularly easy to live sustainable. We go to the market every Saturday morning, because it saves a lot of plastic. If you buy locally, it doesn’t need wrapping. And we love food, so we don’t mind spending a bit more there. 

“It is of course important to note that my boyfriend and I are the perfect target for this transition. We don’t have kids, we don’t have that many responsibilities. We have money for the market. However, in the end it is just a way of thinking. We have enough money for the market because we don’t buy new clothes. And if you take that extra mile, that small step from the supermarket to your local market, it already saves so much plastic. But there are many ways. If you take the bike instead of your car, it is not only good for the environment, but also good for you. Making sustainable choices can make your life a lot cheaper, healthier and happier?”

Are there any more things you would like to share?

“Well, I am glad you asked because I love this Amazonian legend":

“One day, a long time ago and in a faraway place, or so the legend goes, there was a huge forest fire that was raging the countryside. All the animals were terrified, running around in circles, screaming, crying and helplessly watching the impending disaster.

But there in the middle of the flames, and above the cowering animals, was a tiny hummingbird busy flying from a small pond to the fire, each time fetching a few drops with its beak to throw on the flames. And then again And then again.

After a while, an old grouchy armadillo, annoyed by this ridiculous useless agitation on the part of the hummingbird, cried out: “Tiny bird! Don’t be a fool. It is not with those miniscule drops of water one after the other that you are going to put out the fire and save us all! ”

To which the hummingbird replied, “Could be, but I’m going to do my bit”.”

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