"We have drifted away from community and forgotten how much we actually need each other and how connected we are with our environment. We do not think enough about how our choices impact others and how climate change impacts us."
What city and country do you live in?
On paper I live in London, UK but realistically I spend most of my time all over the world, as I travel for work several days a week.
Did you grow up there?
No, I grew up in Jelgava, a small town (well third biggest in the country!) in Latvia.
How did you end up in London? What drew you to that place?
Initially work, but what I love about London is the energy, the stories and the people! It’s such a diverse place where you can be different and find like-minded people at the same time.
How do you spend most of your days?
I spend most of my time working – I’m a model since the age of 16 and co-founder of a modelling agency; Ase Model Management. I am often travelling for work and ticking boxes off my “must do” bucket list. I am also raising a two-year-old daughter.
What is your passion in life?
My passion in life is nature. Being in nature, observing wildlife! Nothing inspires me more. That’s my way to recharge, find inspiration and motivation. Nature is my church. I’m a big fan of active outdoor sports – surfing, skiing, mountaineering, diving etc. I’m passionate about doing my absolute best in hope that generations to come will be able to experience the same beauty in nature.
Could you tell us a little bit about things you dream about achieving in life?
I hope to raise my daughter to be aware and conscious of the environment. I want to see my business bloom and develop along with the projects I am just starting now. I also hope to never grow out of exploring and being curious, so that I can continue to come up with new interesting ideas to fulfil.
What, in your view, is society’s greatest challenge and what can we as individuals do to address it?
I think it is individualism. We have drifted away from community and forgotten how much we actually need each other and how connected we are with our environment. We do not think enough about how our choices impact others and how climate change impacts us. We cling to our way of life, our beliefs, our values and refuse to see further than that. I am not saying we all need to agree, but we should acknowledge our differences and the impacts of our choices.
I find it saddening to see how many people are left hurt due political pressure, fear of “loss of face” or simply because of business and consumerism. Until we learn to accept each other and start teaching our children to do the same, we will continue to have a split society that is wasting its energy on fighting one another rather than lifting communities and tackling issues that are important.
On the other side of the coin – what is society’s greatest opportunity right now? What can we as a group do to seize that opportunity?
We have communication. We can connect people on different sides of the world in a matter of seconds, we can find answers to questions from our phones, we can discus and hear a million different opinions. It’s brilliant! We can use communication to learn about practically anything, we can raise awareness and educate ourselves.
What in your mind signifies “A Good Community”?
Consciousness. Consciousness is what allows people to make good choices and live a more sustainable life and what drives us to stand up for those whose voices are not being heard. It is what allows us to set aside our political, religious perspectives and come together as a powerful unity.
Why have you chosen to be part of A Good Community?
I grew up in a post-soviet country, people never really had much and capitalism wasn’t as permeating as it is now. People stood up for each other, they shared the little they had. As capitalism grew everything changed. I started travelling all over the world at age of 16. The more I travelled, the more I started to be aware of what was happening around me. And ever since, I cannot look away.
It hurt me to see plastic debris-filled beaches, so I started to clean it up. I know that flying around the globe isn’t good for the environment, but I make my everyday as sustainable as I can. From travel essentials to home products and food.
What, if anything, could the world benefit from more people getting engaged in things like A Good Community?
Studies have shown that our actions are very influential to those around us. I therefore believe that if we start making small changes in our daily life for the sake of the planet, we can get more and more people to do the same. For those who don’t seem to be convinced about the environmental crisis, I have another argument - think about how much money you can save by being conscious! Most coffee places offer discounts for people who come in with their own coffee cup. You can refill your water bottle practically everywhere - so you save money on each bottle of water you don’t buy. Annually, It’s a lot of money.
Have you seen any climate-related impacts on nature where you live?
How does that make you feel? What sort of action does that make you want to take?
It is saddening and sometimes it makes me feel powerless. Until we have governments taking real action against these major companies and countries, I try to fight against them by supporting good organizations that are fighting for sustainability, people and wildlife - like www.SumOfUs.org, TOGETHERBAND, WWF and individual wildlife Trusts. I try supporting local businesses, buy quality clothing and use only natural cleaning products in my household.
In the UK, as an example, 40 % of the population has at one point or more during the past year, returned a product that they bought online. That’s more than 26.5 million packages. In Germany, that same number reaches a staggering 43.7 million. What is your personal take on today’s consumption?
The modern way of life has become similar to a machine. There is so little time left for being human and taking time for ourselves. Rather than sitting down and taking five minutes to enjoy our coffee or lunch in peace, we have it to go. Instead of having a proper lunch, we quickly have a sandwich still at the desk and continue our workload.
People are being more and more enslaved by the daily rush. Same goes with consumerism. We don’t need most of the things that are being pushed towards us. We should love the clothes we have and wear them over and over and over again, not have it for one evening and then getting rid of it. Yes, quality comes with a bigger price, but a sweater that’s more expensive will last you for years and will remain looking as good as new for a long time.
Do you think that there is a way we can work together to change society’s current consumption into being more conscious?
If I were to live in a utopia and be the president of it, I would create a plastic tax. I would tax single use plastics and plastic packaged items making plastic the most expensive packaging. Driving people and companies to switching to sustainable options.
But honestly, I think that what we need to do is to keep doing our best, keep recycling, bringing our own bag to the store, not buying the vegetables that are packed in plastic (or putting them in separate plastic bags), or better yet – go to farmers market! Get a reusable coffee mug, refillable water bottle. Ask questions about the meat you are buying. Buy clothes responsibly and pick quality over quantity.
When I lived in Sweden, my daughter's kindergarten would save all the recycling and every couple of weeks they would go with the kids to the local recycling station and teach children about recycling - which package goes where. This is the kind of step that begins to raise a more conscious society.
Thanks for being part of A Good Community, any last words you’d like to add for the people around the world reading this?
There really is no such thing as too small of a step towards positive change. Every little bit counts, its a butterfly effect. Small changes result in a larger change. Do your best, start with the little things and in no time you will see what a great change you have made.