“I think that this period of our lives will be crucial in history as it has already started a new wave of ‘conscious creatives’ to think more about the materials we consume when expressing ourselves.”
With this week being sustainability week, the Students’ Union sat down with Kaya Mitchell, a Level 5 Filmmaking student and co-president of ‘Conscious Creatives’ to discuss sustainability, what we could all be doing to be better, and her practice.
Students' Union: Let’s start off with an easy one, what does sustainability mean to you?
Kaya Mitchell: I believe sustainability is having respect for our environment and to make a better future for all living things.
SU: How does sustainability impact your practice?
KM: I am on Level 5 Filmmaking, and when working in the pre-production stage of my films I make sure that any props and costumes we have to buy are second-hand, rather than buying from big corporations like Amazon or fast fashion brands. Likewise, on set I try my hardest to reduce our single-use items eg. coffee cups, by bringing flasks from home.
SU: That’s really responsible of you! Aside from your practice, what impact do you see sustainability having on the world of art?
KM: I think that this period of our lives will be crucial in history as it has already started a new wave of ‘conscious creatives’ to think more about the materials we consume when expressing ourselves.
SU: Cool. So, looking outside the world of art, what do you think that we all should be doing to be better?
KM: I think we should all try to source our food locally and support smaller brands who pay attention to detail in Fairtrade and their use of palm oil.
SU: Are there any smaller brands that you would recommend people support?
KM: I would definitely recommend shopping on the online site Plastic Freedom! I have followed the owner since I started my plastic-free journey, and all the products I've bought on there have been really impressive - especially the Beauty Kubes shampoo and body wash as they are vegan, natural and plastic-free! In Leeds, I would also suggest checking out the Jar Tree in Kirkgate Market for all your zero waste groceries and day to day essentials.
SU: Nice! I’ll definitely make sure to check those out! I know that you’ve just given us advice on what we all could be doing to be better, but when sustainability and it’s impact on society is brought up, you can get people who dismiss it. What small change would you recommend to make those people realise how easy it is to live a sustainable life?
KM: When heading out, I always make sure to pack an extra bag as you never know when you might need it! Small habits like that will make living consciously easier to sustain than waking up and deciding to live zero waste. If only we were all assigned a Chilly’s bottle at birth haha!
SU: Get that in writing to your local MP ASAP haha! As you said, it’s the little things that we should all be doing to be more sustainable in our everyday lives; but do you think that sustainability is an important conversation here at LAU?
KM: 100%. I think as a University we are pretty clued up on the environmental side but not so much the social side!
SU: Very interesting. What do you think LAU could do better in regards to social sustainability?
KM: I think LAU is taking a step in the right direction with social sustainability, but it's all about keeping it consistent. For example, in the new building, the toilets are gender-neutral but in the old part of the building we still don’t have them. This is something that I'd like to see change to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible in the University environment. I would also like to see sustainability integrated as part of everyone's curriculum to make students even more aware!
SU: That would be a really good idea! As you said earlier, we’re starting to see the birth of a new wave of 'conscious creatives', and the more people we can help to understand the change that they can make, the better!
SU: Would you say that since being at University you've become more aware of sustainability?
KM: Yes! Conscious Creatives was the first society I joined when I started Uni, and meeting like-minded people from other courses has given me plenty of eco-friendly tips. Being Co-President and having the ability able to put on events with our society has made it a fun and memorable part of my University experience!
SU: That’s really nice to hear because the University experience is that much easier when you have a group of people around you that you can really get on with! I guess you really do get out of it what you put in.
SU: Now you’re in second year, about to head into third year and I’m sure you’ve thought about the future. What are your plans going forward?
KM: After Uni, I see myself being some sort of ‘sustainable advisor’ (if that title even exists) for a production company on the side of writing and directing my own films. I am however currently in pre-production for an advertising collaboration with HARA the label, which is a sustainable and ethical underwear and clothing brand.
SU: That’s really cool! Tell us about HARA the label? How did you get involved with them?
KM: I found the brand through my housemates and quickly fell in love with their handmade garments. I approached them myself and sent an email with my initial idea to persuade them, which luckily worked! I'd definitely say to anyone thinking of seeking out their own clients to just go for it and message them - if you don't ask you don't get!
SU: I’m sure that’ll be amazing! Where are you with things at the moment?
KM: I am currently directing a music video but have all the ideas in my head for the HARA collaboration. I am planning on creating a very dreamlike and idyllic setting, then using interviews from women who have faced body confidence issues/skin conditions who now feel empowered and are on a journey of self-love. I am actually still looking for interviewees and models for the HARA collaboration so if anyone who reads would be interested, make sure to get in contact with me!
You can catch Kaya at:
Instagram - slaya.kaya
Website - www.kayaemitchell.com