Introducing Serena Lee
Initially, what prompted you to drive change?
I realised that for every wet wipe I was throwing in the bin whilst changing nappies, millions of other parents were doing the same. Most brands don't biodegrade. And that's just one tiny aspect of parenting! I realised I had the privilege to be more eco-friendly, and so felt like it was my duty to be more sustainable with my choices, and share what I was learning so that others might make change too.
What has been the most rewarding moment of your journey so far?
I had my guidebook, Vegan London, published in late 2018 — it was a rewarding experience after an exhausting period, involving proofreading the finished manuscript to my baby aloud as she lay on the nursery floor! I wrote it throughout my pregnancy, between my baby being six weeks and four months old. I've worked with so many restaurants over the last five years through Vegans Of LDN, and it's great that my favourite places are now in one solid book for Londoners and tourists to check out.
What change-maker/s do you look up to and why?
My friend Emilia Leese is about to release a book called Think Like A Vegan, which teaches vegan philosophy and how to argue it in practical situations. She is also running a reforesting and rewilding project in the Scottish Highlands — I can't wait to see where her work takes her over the next few years. I also love Chade Meng-Tan for his mindfulness books (Search Inside Yourself is fantastic) — he'll put you in the right mindset for doing meaningful work. And of course there's Earthling Ed — if we were all that articulate, everyone would be vegan. His YouTube channel is one to subscribe to if you haven't already.
If you could save one species at the click of your fingers, what would it be?
Bees. Once they're gone, we're all gone.
Why is it important for brands/companies to become more responsible?
Consumers are waking up to greenwashing through the power of social media. We want to know who made our clothes and how much they were paid; we want to see inside the factories that companies are using. I believe that ‘ethical’ will become the new ‘premium’, and that high-end designers who are opaque about their practices will be irrelevant and obsolete in the future of fashion.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what is one thing you would want to have with you?
Is there a freshwater source? If not, a solar still to desalinate seawater. If yes, then a knife would be handy.
What are some small changes people can make in their everyday lives to help save the environment (specifically, in your field)?
Eat more plant-based food and less meat, fish, and dairy. Check packaging in the supermarket. If the plastic says "not yet recycled", avoid it if you can. Buy compostable bin liners instead of black ones. Reuse cloth wipes on babies instead of disposable ones — they can be made out of fabric scraps and old towels, and washed with the laundry. Wash out your cans before putting them in the recycling bin. There's so much we can do!