We popped over to Charmaine Seah Ong’s place (also known as @eleventhour) to see how she has a mini-retreat at home and to hear more about her sustainability journey.
Charmaine Seah Ong is a soothing and calming energy to be around. She runs a successful branding and marketing agency, Elementary Co., with her husband, and is a mum to two gorgeous girls. Her Instagram feed is filled with quirky anecdotes, mindfulness moments and real-life thoughts. Recently while at the beach with her kids, they spontaneously started picking up all the trash they were surrounded by, which has had a ripple effect on other aspects of her life. Now she’s exploring how else she can make an impact and have lighter footprints with her family. Here are some of her thoughts.
Sustainability, to me, means…
Making conscious decisions to not partake in a life of excess, but to live within my means and only consume what I need, and purchase items that are produced with a minimal carbon footprint.
I first started thinking about sustainability when…
When my husband was running an eco-friendly products store and I realised there were so many better ways of being a conscious consumer.
Charmaine wears Sceona jewellery; a sustainable fine jewellery brand offering nature-inspired alternatives to the traditional jewellery industry. The gold comes from urban mining (the production of precious metals from waste and metal scrap), and the cultured diamonds are created in a lab. They want to create beautiful pieces that inspire transparency and respect to people and the planet.
My hopes for the future are…
We become more mindful of the way we live and more aware of the kind of consumers we are so that we can make better decisions for our planet.
Charmaine uses zeroyet100: handcrafted natural deodorant that has nothing synthetic yet is totally effective. Free from nasties, their all-natural products are produced in Hong Kong. The products are housed in recyclable or up-cycalable packaging. And are gender-neutral, suitable for kids and mums-to-be.
Since becoming more aware of the climate crisis, I have…
I have made a conscious effort to use less single-use plastics, offset my carbon footprint and educate my children as to why all of these little decisions can ultimately amount to a bigger impact than we realise.
Charmaine wears Outfyt: a homegrown slow fashion brand, on a mission to bring timeless sustainable design and quality to your active life. Their garments are made from sustainable fabrics and packed in compostable cassava bags, no plastic here. The pieces are made ethically in Indonesia, where garment workers are paid well above minimum wage and have health insurance for them and their families.
And Truth&All: ethical and sustainable sunglasses that are handmade. Their eyewear is made from oil-free, eco-friendly and biodegradable materials. They believe in giving back more than they take. Each piece is handmade in Greece by a socially responsible family-run manufacturer, that ensures fair wages and working conditions.
My favourite Instagram account is…
@cnnclimate because it keeps me up to date with what’s happening in the world of sustainability globally.
My sustainability hero is…
My best friend @aarikalee. She walks the talk and is so passionate about making real, tangible change no matter what anyone says or however “inconvenient” it might be. She makes sure her kids understand this as well and inspires those around her to reconsider their consumerism habits too.
Don’t want to leave the house, but want to have that spa feeling? AUUM, the honest nail spa, does ethical and cruelty-free manicures and brings them to your door. Their nail polishes are free from all the nasty toxic chemicals and only use vegan products. They believe in making your nails as beautiful as they can with as little harm as possible.
If I could change one thing about the world immediately, I would…
I would protect the most endangered habitats and the animals living in them and would just make everyone really give a damn.
On keeping my team motivated…
Elementary Co. has operated on a 4 day work week since October 2018. Everyone in the company is allowed to choose one day off a week, not to work from home but to do whatever they wish. They can run errands, sleep in, spend time with their families or event work on freelance projects during those days off. All we ask is that they ensure that their team members aren’t shorthanded, deadlines are met and that their work doesn’t suffer.
If you don’t trust your team and hire the right people, your company is never going to thrive holistically. Ask yourself – what are you chasing? What drives you? What do you want your team to value? And always remember – people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Charmaine wears Step of Grace: everyday fashion essentials for the well-travelled souls. Inspired by and for nature, these eco-friendly pieces are made using natural fibres in a local Indonesian production house. For every purchase, they plant a tree, and they produce in small batches to last with minimum ecological footprint.
Follow Charmain Seah Ong here.
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