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Climate talk

Kiki Boreel is a Dutch model and Climate Ambassador of the future.

“I am very happy that nowadays I get asked for my inner self instead of my outer self”

1. How would you describe yourself as a climate professional?
I am a climate professional in the way of how I look at how we can change individual behaviour. According to IPCC changes in our behaviour and lifestyle, with the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place can contribute to 40-70% greenhouse gas emission reduction.

2. You are a climate ambassador of the future, what does this mean?
The ministry of economic affairs and climate named 6 individuals as climate ambassadors of the future. We followed a course on how to be a climate ambassador. Each of us comes from such a different background and we all have different interests. We all have our own project, where I am focusing on the climate influencer side. Everyone brings such a specific theme to the table. It's very interesting to learn from each other.

3. Where does your curiosity on climate change come from?
It started during modelling I was quite unaware of the impact of the fashion industry and was moving thoughtlessly through live . I read a book, written by Jelmer Mommers in which he explained a division between a green future, where we start taking concrete climate action and a future if we don’t do anything. This made me realise that I was not on the right side at all. That is why I decided to speak out about the enormous negative impacts the fashion industry has. And really make some noise, especially as a model, because many people are unaware of these impacts. Besides that, I have started a study on environmental sciences because, when I want to share my opinion about something, I feel the need to understand the scientific basis first.

4. How do you minimize your own footprint?
For 8 years I’ve been eating vegetarian, I take shorter showers, I always turn off the lights, and I have put foils behind my radiator. It’s very interesting to see how creative people get, now that electricity and gas prices have increased. I almost never buy new clothes anymore. If I want to shop, I try to either rent it, borrow it from or swap it with a friend, and if there is nothing else I will buy it second-hand. I try to limit my footprint on items, the way I consume and the way I shop, meaning: shop locally, invest in human capital, and limit virgin resources. I also made the decision that I only take jobs that are within train distance. For example, the Vogue shoot I did was in Edinburgh, a 10-hour train ride from Amsterdam, which might seem long to people, but it was actually amazing. Great train connection, relaxed, and with beautiful views. Let’s all swap the plane for the train more often.

5. Is there anything you still would like to change within your own habits?
It’s still very hard to make your way around plastic packaging, especially for food. I would like to stop buying stuff that’s wrapped in single-use plastic. We need to reconsider our behaviour when consuming.

"There is a rule for mental happiness, the 3-3-3 rule. You must live 300 meters from a green area, see at least three trees or plants and, 30% of your neighbourhood should be green. If you want to live happily make sure to connect to nature."

6. What amazes you most about the current state of the fashion industry?
It amazes me that fast fashion brands keep gaining more market share. Yes, the second-hand industry is growing and people are becoming more and more aware, but for example, ultra fast fashion brand Shein was the most popular brand in most countries this year. Even with all the articles and documentaries coming out about their horrible practices, disregarding people and the environment, people still buy their sh*t (excuse my French).

7. How is it working for the Fashion industry, are there jobs you reject?
Yes, there are many jobs I reject. There is a lot of greenwashing happening. That is why I always dive into the brand’s sustainability report before I decide to work with them. I especially try to look for what they’re not saying. It is important to me that brands report about concrete steps they take. That means, if a brand says: "We aim to reduce our carbon footprint", that does not tell you anything. I want to see numbers and solid plans, promises on living wages, and recycled materials for example.

8. What are your favourite sustainable brands/organizations?
One of my favourite platforms is Renoon, it offers a collection of sustainable brands and asks you for your personal values. You can for example filter on female-owned brands, vegan brands etc. I also like rental platforms such as, the Circle Closet. I recently discovered Rhea which is a brand that’s using blockchain technology and climate-friendly fibers that you can trace back to the factories. SheepInc, is a brand that uses regenerative wool, which is carbon positive, or carbon negative, depending on the way you look at it. And I also shop a lot of vintage. There are so many things that you can do before buying something new. A platform which everyone should use is: Good On You, this is where you can see how brands are rated, on the environment, animal welfare and human welfare. If I work with a brand, it should have at least 4 stars on Good On You.

9. What is important to think of while purchasing new products?
If you want something new, first think about if it has to be new. It could be in your closet, in the closet of a friend or there might be a possibility to rent it or buy it vintage. If not, try and buy something that will last longer. Look at the quality of the material, I prefer natural materials such as linen or cotton. Look at certificates, such as GOTS and B Corp. If the item is made of one material it is often recyclable, while items that are made from multiple materials are very hard to recycle.

10. Are there any docu’s, books and podcasts you would recommend?
I recently launched my own podcast which is called Climate Leader Diaries, in which I invite climate leaders and ask them about their daily life, their values and their look on the future. Through this podcast I want people to think “That could be me”. Everyone can be a climate leader.

A number of other podcasts I like:
– The age of plastic
– Outrage + optimism
– De Onbehaarde apen (NL)
– Science Weekly by The Guardian
– ESG now
– How to Save the Planet
– The YIKES Podcast
– Think: Sustainability
– Koplopers BNR

Some docu’s that I would recommend:
– The true cost
– Waterbear (platform with multiple great documentaries)

My favourite books:
– The future we choose
– The 8 master lessons of nature
– Eating animals
– We are the weather
– De stem van de noordzee (NL)

"Most important things, are not things."

11. What are you hoping for in the future?
I hope that we can change the norm of consumerism. Nowadays there is this almost compulsive consumption fueled by marketing and trends. I hope that people stop thinking of themselves as consumers and start thinking as individuals. I would like them to find different forms of happiness. Instead of buying a new jeans because it makes you happy, take a stroll through the woods and connect with nature. We can change the capitalist way of thinking, by connecting with other people and getting back to the core of what we live for. Because most important things, are not things.

Search for happiness on the long term and make sure to connect to nature. There is for example a rule for mental happiness, the 3-3-3 rule. You must live 300 meters from a green area, see at least three trees or plants and 30% of your neighborhood should be green. I hope we can all start rethinking about what gives us joy on a deeper level.