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Aja Barber: My Sustainable Life – ‘We should tax billionaires at 75 per cent’

The Independent’s My Sustainable Life is a Q&A series in which famous faces reveal their personal approach to the climate crisis

This week, for My Sustainable Life, we hear from writer and consultant Aja Barber.

Previous guests on My Sustainable Life include activist and comedian Ruby Wax and musician Professor Green.

Born in the US and living in south east London, Barber uses her platform (she has more than 238,000 followers on Instagram) to discuss issues such as sustainability, ethics, intersectional feminism, racism and the myriad ways systems of power impact our the way we shop.

Her debut book, Consumed: The need for collective change; colonialism, climate change & consumerism is out later this month and explores the exploitation and injustices that characterise so much of the fashion industry while also looking at the consequences of consumer culture more generally.

Here, Barber reveals why she thinks someone needs to invent teleporting, how setting yourself a limit on how many clothes you buy each year could hugely lower your carbon footprint, and how she can’t resist the occasional chain shop coffee in a takeaway cup.

The most sustainable decision I made in the past year was…

I would argue that the pandemic forced ALL of us to be more sustainable.  I haven’t been on a plane in two years.  But we also switched our energy provider to a greener option and I’m looking at making sure my future investment (retirement, banks, etc.) are with banks who don’t fund the fossil fuel industry.

My least sustainable guilty habit is…

The occasional chain shop coffee in a takeaway cup.

If I ruled the world, I would make it more sustainable by…

Taxing billionaires at 75 per cent and disbanding the fossil fuel industry in addition to making all mega corporations responsible for the waste they create.  If all corporations were responsible for their own waste, folks would get really serious about sustainability quite quickly.

When I want to feel in touch with the natural world I…

Go camping or visit a nice garden.

If I could invent one thing that would make my life more sustainable it would be…

A teleporter so I wouldn’t have to fly to see my family.

My sustainability hero is…

Do I have to pick one?  It’s a movement and it’s gonna take all hands on deck.

The one thing everyone should watch or read about the climate crisis is…

All We Can Save edited by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine Wilkinson.

My favourite vegan or vegetarian restaurant is…

Neat Burger (the cheese on the cheesy tater tots taste like actual cheese).

My one piece of advice to people trying to be more sustainable is…

Start by slowing down. Stop buying so much of everything. Set a limit on what you bring in your wardrobe yearly.

Three sustainable brands everyone should know about

  • Lora Gene [sustainable womenswear]
  • Two Days Off [carbon neutral lifestyle brand]
  • The things you already own… I know, it’s not a real answer but it’s true!

Consumed: The need for collective change; colonialism, climate change & consumerism by Aja Barber is published on 23 September with Octopus. Pre-order it here.

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