Nina Karnikowski - On Optimism And Feeling Good
We love your eco style and your sustainability quest – what ignited your interest in eco-living and what is your ultimate goal?
It was a cumulative process, but the tipping point was a travel writing assignment I took to the Canadian Arctic in late 2019, where I learnt about the impact our consumptive human behaviours (including flying on planes) were having on the bears and our planet. The melting of the Arctic ice due to global warming ultimately leads to a declining population - the polar bears have no way of protecting themselves from this, I realised on that trip, only our actions will have an effect. I got home and set to work cleaning up my act – committing to big actions like travelling far less, returning to vegetarianism and only writing books and stories with a sustainability angle, to smaller things like getting solar panels on our home and committing to buying nothing new for a year. It’s an ongoing process of paring back, but the ultimate goal is to contribute in a meaningful way to the fight to save our one precious home.
In a creative sense, how are you remaining charged and inspired right now?
I’m reading every night – recent favourites have been Joanna Macy’s World As Lover, World As Self, which shows how we can reverse the destructive attitudes that threaten our world, and Natalie Goldberg’s Three Simple Lines, a book about haiku which has been transporting me to Japan. I’ve been watching some excellent documentaries including Bruce Parry’s Tawai, which looks at the life of a nomadic hunter gatherer tribe in Borneo and shows how we can live more harmoniously with nature, and Louie Schwartzberg’s Fantastic Fungi, about how mushrooms just might be the thing to save planet earth. I’m also running something called Write Club through my Instagram every Saturday morning, where anyone who wants to join can write with me as a group – the collective experience is very inspiring.
What are your daily feel good rituals that give you joy? (Can you talk us through a typical Sunday or perhaps how you are maximising your mornings)
I journal every morning for about 20 minutes, which helps wake my warrior spirit up and keeps me energised. Right after that I move my body, whether that be riding my bike, swimming, running or doing yoga, to get the endorphins pumping before the day begins. I drink a lot of tea, which gives me little pockets of silence and stillness throughout the day, and cook as much as I can which is so soothing. Oh and every Saturday night I turn off my phone, put it in a drawer and don’t turn it back on until Monday morning – makes me feel like I’m a new woman.
We love your style – how are you adding the Among Equals Bilum to your look, and can you tell us why you chose this particular style:
I’m big on keeping things pretty simple these days. It’s often either a great pair of jeans and a nice shirt, or an all-white or all-black look that’s offset with some great accessories, like a bilum. I loved the earthy tones of the natural bilums, and that they’re dyed using berries and barks and are made with plants so they can biodegrade at the end of their life. I feel very proud to be wearing something that’s contributing to keeping this weaving tradition alive, and to keeping hundreds of beautiful Papua New Guinean women employed.
Lastly, how are you remaining hopeful and positive right now?
Aside from moving my body, which I think is the most important thing we can do for our mental health, I try to stay focused on solutions and action. If I start to feel fearful about the impacts of the climate crisis, I’ll take an action like signing a petition or making a donation to a not-for-profit funding climate solutions. I also try to remind myself every morning that each day is just another chance to make a difference. And I keep these words, written by my favourite Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön, ringing in my ears: “you are the sky, everything else is just the weather.”
Having worked as a travel writer for the past decade, Nina Karnikowski is now on her greatest adventure yet: making her and her readers’ travels more conscious, and less harmful for the planet. The author of Go Lightly, How to Travel Without Hurting the Planet and Make a Living Living, Be Successful Doing What You Love, Nina is dedicated to helping people find less impactful ways of travelling and living. She also runs regular writing workshops focused on connecting more deeply to self and the earth.
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