CHANGEMAKERS SERIES | LAURA WELLS

The spirit of our NEW DAWN Collection embodies change, evolution + collaboration. These fine qualities are the very essence of the women we have featured in our series of inspiring Changemakers. 

Creating exacting change in many areas, from the environment to art, health and nutrition, these women bring our collection alive with their passion, power  + persuasion.

Laura Wells is a marine biologist, climate change activist, science communicator and model. Talk about multi-hyphenated. Laura talks to us about fighting climate change, career challenges and her sustainable living hacks…

You are well known for many multi-hyphenate career paths, can you tell us how this has shaped your purpose and what are you advocating for?

My career has been a whirlwind of opportunity and finding my purpose. 

From graduating with degrees in marine biology and law to being scouted as a curve model and modelling internationally, right back to working as a presenter and science communicator, I have been able to understand what matters to me the most, what fulfils my souls, heightens my sense of adventure and gives back to people and planet. 

I didn’t truly recognise what my purpose was until I was around 31 years old, which I feel extremely lucky about because for some they work it out much later. My career has been a journey of self-acceptance, environmental education, and a releasing of fears of judgement from others and societal expectations. I am really proud of where I am at right now and the ability I have to educate those around me on how to shape a sounder fully biodiverse future. 

How do you use your social media influence to support causes that you are passionate about?

I use social media to influence for good. To educate people on the natural world around them, the things that I love and find interesting, and empower them with solutions and curiosity to help protect our planet for the future. 

I really believe that if you are ‘influencing’ then it needs to really be purposeful, positive, and inspiring. Using your voice for good not just consumerism or ego. 

You are a role model for young women in science. Which women do you most admire in the world of science?

There are so many incredible women in science that are alive right here, right now. Unfortunately most people can only ever really name one female scientist, Marie Curie, and whilst she was incredible she died in 1934!  

Women like the Prime Ministers Science award winner of 2020, and Nobel prize winner ,Susan Scott, a theoretical physicist is an amazing science communicator and passionate advocate for women in STEM.

Emma Johnston, Dean of Science at UNSW is an incredible orator and influence in marine conservation. 

And then there is every single women who I met on Homeward Bound Projects, an all-female in STEM leadership course. Some on the most brilliant minds all coming together to fight for change.

Plastic pollution has become so rife that every ocean on Earth is teeming with plastic. How have you personally witnessed this problem and what can we all do to act upon it?

I have witnessed plastic pollution from sea surface to sea floor, from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

Just this year I returned from a plastic pollution research trip, studying microplastics (plastic pieces small than 5mm) in the South Pacific. We rarely saw large pieces of plastic, but we collected hundreds of small almost microscopic pieces right from the beautiful deep blue. 

Plastic pollution in our oceans, unfortunately will never go away. We will never be able to completely rid our oceans of the plastic that is currently in them, however, we can stem the follow of plastic into our oceans by reducing our plastic usage, finding plastic free alternatives to everyday items, washing synthetic clothing less, and being mindful and knowledgeable about the damage plastic does to humans and ecosystems

Can you explain why you think the Return and Earn program is so important?

The Return and Earn program in NSW for plastic and glass bottles and aluminium cans is imperative to reduce litter in our environments. 

By placing a monetary value on something that is inherently valuable, but seen by people as worthless trash - it incentivises individuals to recycle in a more productive manner, ensuring the materials go back into the system creating a closed loop effect. This, we know through the data, is so effective at reducing litter in our environments, and providing an income stream for those who need it. 

It’s an absolute no-brainer to ensure we keep those valuable, resource intensive single-use items in use and out of landfill. 

Ginger & Smart actively tries to produce each collection more sustainable than the last. How do you feel about sustainability in the fashion industry?

I am very passionate about sustainability in the fashion industry, reducing consumption, emissions and using fibres and dying processes good for the planet and people is something we need more brands incorporating into their ethos. Which is why I respect the values and approach Ginger & Smart take to their collections. Slower fashion with the planet in mind. 

By embedding this into every aspect of their company Ginger & Smart is able to educate their customers on how to create a better future not only environmentally but humanistically as well. Looking after worker’s rights is another part of a sustainability often forgotten about. 

What are your essential sustainable living hacks that we can implement in our daily lives?

Curiosity: This is my main living hack. Being curious about the world around you allows you to do a little bit more research into why it’s important. But also gets beyond physically learning about our natural spaces and being connected to them in order to live them and want to protect them. 

Conscious consumerism: You need to think before you buy, do you really need it? Research the brand you are purchasing from and understand their ethos and how they give back. Also understand the end of life of the product you are buying, can it be recycled, composted, reused or repurposed. This is vital to reducing landfill and carbon emissions.

Reusables: Make it a habit to pack your reusable water bottle, coffee cup, cutlery, straw, containers and bags. It seems like a lot, but it no time your new habits will be making a huge difference in the reduction of single use plastic items entering our oceans and landfills.

Switch your super and your bank: Over $3 billions dollars of superannuation is invested and a lot of that is invested in fossil fuels! Switch your super over to an ethical company that does not invest in fossil fuels and has the planet and our futures in mind. Future Super and Verve Super are the best!

Same goes for your bank accounts. Look toward Bank Australia and make your money work for a cleaner tomorrow. 

What are some of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career so far and what did you learn from those experiences?

My biggest personal challenge to overcome was imposter syndrome. I still have it from time to time but I have learnt to be proud of my achievements and what I value and make sure that I am incorporating them in everything I do career wise. 

From a modelling perspective I would say a big career challenge came after I accepted my body for how it looked. I was comfortable with my size 12-14 body however the industry, especially when I started modelling as a curve model, was somewhat reluctant to using women my size. 

I was constantly having to prove my abilities as a model in order to impress an industry that was fixated on one type of stereotypical beauty that I didn’t necessarily fit. 

I’m pleased to say though, over the past 15 years the industry is progressing and we are seeing a lot more diversity. 

Favourite piece in the Ginger & Smart Resort 21 Collection?

I love the Resonance skirt and top which is inspired by the majestic endangered Green Turtle. Being able to wear a beautiful piece that not only sends a fantastic message about sustainability but also encompasses my love for our blue planet is a fun way to educate others through fashion!  

What is your wish for change in the future?

I wish that people will truly understand the impact of their actions. We all have the ability to individually and collectively create an amazing future with the decisions we make every single day. Never underestimate the amount of people you can influence for good by setting the example with your actions yourself!