Model and activist Renee Peters is striving to be a role model for sustainable living. She is using her platform for positive change and sharing her tips and lifestyle through her blog Model4GreenLiving.
We caught up with Renee to find out more about her journey towards sustainability and how this philosophy has changed her approach to modelling and fashion.
What inspired you to start living and promoting a more sustainable lifestyle?
As far back as I can remember, I have had a profound love of animals and nature. I had my 4th birthday party at a zoo, and to this day sometimes feel like it’s easier for me to communicate with animals than with people.
I was a Girl Scout for 12 years, which really opened my eyes to the wonder of nature. It taught me not only to appreciate it and respect it, but more importantly to give more to nature than I take.
Fast forward to my early twenties… I am in the middle of earning a bachelor’s degree in Animal Biology, in hopes of protecting animals and the environment, and I got signed with a modelling agency in Nashville: AMAX talent. Modelling was a huge dream of mine. I was excited to explore a career as a model over my Summer vacation. While traveling in London for work, I picked up a book that would change the course of my life!
The book was called Skinny Bitch, which I thought was all about losing weight, but instead it taught me why eating a plant-based diet was so important. It shined a shocking light on factory farming and the cruelty that occurs to billions of animals in our modern agricultural system. I realised that by eating meat as I always had, I was contributing to exactly the opposite effect that I wanted to have as an Animal Biologist.
After reading that book, I went vegetarian and eventually vegan to minimise my impact on animals. When I returned to America and resumed my studies, I became a voracious consumer of any information I could find regarding living plant-based.
I had already learned that diet affects the health of humans, but was shocked to learn how greatly it affects the health of the environment as well. It was encouraging to know that I could make a positive impact for the planet by eliminating animal products from my diet.
The science I was learning about global warming was depressing, but I had a tangible action I could take to really make a difference. I no longer felt helpless.
By the time I graduated, I had not only changed by my diet, but also the way I thought and lived my life. When I moved to New York City to model full time, I wanted to share what I had learned with the world. I set out to live as sustainably as I could, and lead by example with my choices.
I wanted to be a positive example for everyone. For those who care about the environment but aren’t sure what they can do to help, and for those who have never considered their environmental impact. I decided to use my platform as a fashion model to reshape the way people think about environmental issues, and to show how it’s cool to care!
How does this lifestyle change your approach to fashion and modelling?
As a model, I try to align myself with brands that promote similar ideas and values. Brands that are on the same journey as I am to improve their impact on the environment.
I try to use my creative photo shoots to tell a story about a bigger issue and that living sustainably is an inspiring and a fun journey. Not to say, “Look and dress like me if you want to be cool.” Fashion has the power to tell a much bigger story than that.
I also really want young people and everyone else to realise that we have to love ourselves for who we are, and celebrate our uniqueness. I am excited to see that so many companies are now telling that story, and I love collaborating with them to promote wellbeing.
Can you recommend some steps to living more sustainably and positively?
Living sustainably doesn’t require overwhelming changes to our lives, it can be done through practical tips and everyday actions.
Giving up animal products in your diet, saying no to palm oil, and replacing plastic bottles with a refillable one are all easy steps that result in lasting impact when done over time. We are fortunate to have such a huge variety of sustainable products and brands available to us. I always try to make the best choice available from the options I have.
I also live by the motto, “Buy less and choose well.” Nothing has been overnight for me. This has been at least a six-year journey. It doesn’t seem overwhelming because it is something I approach one decision at a time. Part of this is stopping buying fast fashion, as explained in my article, “Why giving up fast fashion is one of the best things I’ve done”.
I think a key point to making a sustainable life more realistic, is to take it one decision at a time… one day at a time. Never underestimate the power of small, daily actions that all add up to be a huge reduction in our carbon footprint. Not only will you be supporting our fellow humans and the planet, but you’ll probably find out more about yourself along the way. I know I have. Living a life that is healthy and sustainable is here and it’s more easy and affordable than ever.
What is a personal luxury you couldn’t live without?
Can it be more intellectual? I try not to be too attached to things. Having a such a vast wealth of knowledge at my fingertips, having 24/7 access to information feels like a real luxury more and more.
Learning is one of my favourite things so it would be difficult for me to live without listening to podcasts in the morning and watching documentaries at night.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Be yourself. Don’t try to be what you think the world wants. Live your truth. That’s what the world needs.