On your website, you call yourself a "presenter, model, environmentalist, butt-kicker" and we’re sure there are even more roles you can add to that list! How did you come to wear so many hats?
Yes there are too many hats sometimes I feel like a cloak check at a fancy theatre, but I’m just not fancy!
I wanted to be a scientist when I was at high school so I completed a science degree focusing on marine biology and a law degree. Toward the end of my degrees I started to model and once I graduated I began modelling full time, moving to London and then New York. But my passion was always the environment and I always found myself coming back to nature and how I could and did interact with it, what my influence on nature was and how I could mitigate anything negative I was doing.
Once I moved back to Australia I continued to model but threw myself at the environmental world, offering my services and platform to organisations and campaigns that were close to my heart – things like the Great Barrier Reef, climate change and marine plastic pollution.
I soon realised it was my voice and the skills in front of the camera that I had learnt along the way that would be valuable to these groups and I have started presenting and using my powers to educate others for the greater good!
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with these different fields?
Most people would assume being a model and an environmentalist/marine biologist are two seperate, vastly independent careers however I have managed to and continue to intertwine them.
It’s always a juggling act though. Going between industries and then countries and time zones can be hard. Keeping up with legislation and campaign changes, eating well, looking good and staying mentally focused can be challenging as well, especially when there continues to be a lot of negative press surrounding climate change and the reef.
The one other challenge that I face and have to overcome is stereotypes. I find that a lot more people are open minded and progressive now, but I have come across a number of people who, because I’m a model, automatically tar me with the stupid brush. They can sometimes be reluctant to listen to my actual knowledge and passion, and have judged me directly from the only title (being a ‘model’) they may know about me.
You’re about to embark on a journey to Antarctica as part of the Homeward Bound Project. Tell us a bit about the expedition.
I was so excited when I received the email telling me there was a position for me in Homeward Bound Project. The project itself is a 12-month women in leadership course designed to amplify the voices, visibility, critical thinking and to encourage roles for women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine).
I was selected as one of 80 international women who each have a degree and career in STEMM. There are some absolutely incredible women on the trip with jobs and roles that are so important to understanding our planet that is is almost unfathomable to me that we have never heard of these women’s names or what they are doing to create a more sustainable future – the exact reason why the project started: to increase the visibility of women in STEMM.
The program culminates with a 3.5 week trip to Antarctica where we will all meet and participate in lectures, seminars, workshops and presentations, we visit a number of research stations and of course get to hang out with some of the coolest (no pun intended) species on the planet!
The overall theme and science of the trip is centred around climate change as it affects each and every one of us no matter what country we are from or our occupation.
What do you hope to achieve there?
From the Homeward Bound project I hope to personally increase and build upon my leadership skills and science communication skills which directly relates to my ability to be an effective presenter in the science communication arena.
Understanding learning types and why people do, act, say or think they way they do will ultimately give me the tools to better educate each and every person on what they can do individually and cooperatively to create a healthier future for all.
Increasing my understanding of the processes and consequences of climate change in an environment that is experiencing the effects so visibly is also a goal of the trip. With so many experts – climatologists, glaciologists and others from all over the world – the caliber of information and discussion should be like nothing else!
Can you share a fact about the oceans most people wouldn’t know?
A lot of people don’t understand that between 60-80% of the oxygen we breath actually comes from the ocean, not the trees from our forests (although we still definitely need those guys too). The ocean controls a lot of the climate around the planet, so if we have unstable oceans or oceans that are too hot, the weather patterns and overall climate that we have come to generally expect starts to change dramatically. So those one-in-every-1000-year storms start to happen every couple of years, or drought lasts indefinitely, or animals migrate to new areas and food supply dwindles. Everything is connected and everything is connected to the ocean!
They say that less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. What more can we be doing at home to encourage girls to pursue the sciences?
Yes it’s true, there are a lot less women in the sciences, however this doesn’t have to be. In order to encourage women and girls to pursue a career in STEMM we need to remove the connotations and gender bias.
More female only courses or activities for high school aged girls in the STEMM areas can really boost this as the girls don’t feel like they have to compete with boys and are more willing to explore. Encouraging more critical thinking of the natural world and organising more activities outside away from social media distractions and adolescent pressures is really helpful as well. Reducing the pay gap, inequalities and career progression roadblocks from jobs in the STEMM industry for women will also encourage younger girls to participate as they will know straight up that they have all the same opportunities as men.
Fostering a respect for the world around us is a very important step to appreciating what we have and wanting to find ways to make it better or keep it protected.
What advice would you give to someone looking to make a sustainable change to their day-to-day habits?
Your changes will make a difference! Make little changes continually. Do one and move onto the next, this way you won’t get overwhelmed and give up on all of them.
Easy ways to begin a transition into a more sustainable lifestyle is to reduce consumption of single use disposable plastic items. Switch out your plastic bags for reusable bags, your plastic water bottles and coffee cups for reusable ones. Take your own cutlery and stop sucking, say ‘no’ to straws. A home compost bin is a great way to reduce your contribution to landfill and will make your garden or someone else’s delicious.
If you break something repair it. Find ways to reuse clothing or mend it before discarding it and purchase items from companies, just like Auguste, who are giving back and taking steps to be a more socially and environmentally responsible company.
People don’t often notice the role fashion plays in environmental consciousness. How does style fit in with your eco-friendly lifestyle?
Many people are uneducated on how much the fashion industry can and does negatively affect our environment and the resources it takes to create our clothing.
When purchasing clothing I like to know the company I am buying from is aware of the role they play and the responsibility they have to do this ethically and environmentally the best way possible.
It is possible to be stylish and fashionable without wearing a big old eco-looking, shapeless beige sack. You just have to be more mindful and let the companies who you love know that you would like them to make sure their impact on the environment is as minimal as possible.
Is there something you’ve seen, read or heard lately that’s really stuck with you?
I’ve seen coral bleaching and it crushes you. I’ve read about the new developments in renewable energy and it makes me hopeful for the future. I heard an 8-year-old girl call herself fat and say she wasn’t eating because she isn’t beautiful... She was not fat at all and it highlights the need for diversity and education within the media. To show all different types of beautiful, to make people included and to focus on something more than external beauty.
And lastly, what part of your work do you love most?
I love the fact that I get to educate people on what they can do to create a healthier more sustainable future. Doing this through my presenting work and even through social media has really given me a purpose and highlighted my passions in a different way. I like to help people understand that no matter what they look like, what they wear, what job they have, they can all make a difference to the future!
Laura wears the Valentina Fiesta Blouse, Wrap Maxi & Mini from our Francesca collection.
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