A Sustainable Life With Carys Degenhardt
In this editorial, we chat to the lovely Carys Degenhardt about her career as a holistic nutritionist and her personal experience with living a more sustainable life. She shares with us her everyday rituals, from breakfast to beauty, as well as her thoughts on sustainability and what drives her to lead a more conscious lifestyle.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Once I wake up and am out of bed I open the drapes in my bedroom. I head to the washroom to scrape my tongue and splash my face with cold water before applying moisturizer. Next I go to the kitchen for hydration: filtered water with lemon, ACV and sea salt. I also feed my kitty Ophilia and prepare a caffeine beverage (coffee, a cacao tonic or matcha) to drink while I journal and read outdoors.
What are you having for breakfast?
I tend not to have breakfast until I after I have exercised in the morning. These days breakfast is usually around 10am and I rotate between a green smoothie, a fruit bowl (with nutrient-dense toppings like bee pollen and cacao nibs), or homemade gf sourdough with ferments and local eggs.
What’s your daily beauty routine?
There are so many ways to answer this. The first things that come to mind are the practices I incorporate to feel supported inside and out. In the morning I splash cold water on my face, which stimulates the vagus nerve, and then apply a vitamin c serum and moisturizer (I like Welelda Skin Food and Living Libations Sun Dew). If I am going outside or if my face is exposed to sun I apply a tinted sunscreen. Sometimes during the day I will spritz a little hydrosol for a refresh. In the evening I cleanse with Tata Harper (on the rare days I wear makeup I use coconut oil first to remove). After cleansing I have been loving applying a brightening toner like Josh Rosebrook’s Daily Acid Toner and then I do oil-based hydration! Egyptian Magic, May Lindstrom Blue Cocoon and Yay For Earth are so nourishing! When I have the energy I will apply a body oil such as the Living Libations Everybody Loves the Sunshine Oil if I have been in the sun that day or Earth Connection Oil. I also always ensure I am setting aside time for movement, most often by way of hiking in nature and at-home pilates videos.
How would you describe your day to day style?
I would describe my day to day style as quite eclectic. I love to add fun unexpected elements like a collar, neck-scarf or textured pieces to otherwise timeless basics. I aim to only buy pieces made from natural fabrics, and of course, sustainably sourced / regeneratively grown and produced where possible. Vintage and quirky mixed with modern and minimalistic pieces tends to be my go-to. This summer I have found myself dressing like a 10 year old boy at summer camp an awful lot.
How do you inform yourself throughout the day? What are you listening to, watching, reading?
I aim to constantly up-level. I have goals to read at least 2 books a month, I alternate between educational reads (environment, agriculture, slow-food, zero-waste, spiritual) and fiction, which ranges from authors like Hemingway to Madeline Miller. I listen to podcasts on my daily walks and while driving or working. I don’t watch a whole lot of shows/movies, but two films what I enjoyed this year were La Piscine and The Truffle Hunters.
How did you get into nutrition as a career?
I’ve always had an interest in being ‘healthy’ and eating well but it wasn’t until a few years ago when I developed some pretty nasty digestive issues (following multiple rounds of antibiotics over the span of 2 years) that I was forced to pay much more attention to my body and my relationship with what I was consuming. After working to heal my digestive system, I became fascinated with the way the body functions and responds positively to nutrients. During this time I was spending so much time in the nutrition space by virtue of researching and following along with other like-minded individuals, but I wanted to feel more confident talking about food and health. Finally in 2018 I enrolled in school to become a Holistic Nutritionist.
Do you have any personal life hacks for getting through the day in the most sustainable way possible?
I am a big proponent of finding a use for everything! This applies quite often to the kitchen. I love to take carrot tops and make pesto, or will blend turnip greens into a hummus. Out of the house I walk where I can and combine trips so as to reduce my carbon footprint. When I leave the house I always make sure I have my reusable water bottle, insulated thermos, set of utensils and produce bags in varying sizes.
How do you wind down at the end of the day?
Sleep hygiene is very important for me. I shut down screens an hour before bed and do not keep any electronics in my bedroom. These are all charging in a separate room and turned off or on airplane mode. I shower before bed as the physiological effects help with relaxation and regulating body temperature before bed. A sustainable bonus is that a clean body before bed means less frequent sheet washing! I like essential oils or sometimes will burn a beeswax candle (which purifies the air), and then I read until I am no longer absorbing the words and pass out.
What does dinner time look like for you?
I like to maintain a fasting window of at least 12 hours everyday so that my body has time to rest and detox while I sleep. This often means that dinner is actually a late lunch sometime between 2 and 4pm. I recently learned that monks do this as well – they only eat breakfast and lunch! Lunch definitely has greens of some sort. I love arugula with pomegranate molasses, evoo and sea salt as a side to something a big more filling – roasted or raw veg, sprouts, beans/lentils, a gf sourdough and local eggs are all in rotation.
What’s your night-time beauty ritual?
In begins with a walk most evenings listening to a podcast and then once I am home I plug in my phone for the night and hop in the shower. Post shower, I do my simple evening skincare routine and take my magnesium supplement which helps the body to relax. I will sometimes turn on a diffuser or candle while I read.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability means considered consumption. I try to pause before my actions and purchases to take a second considering the origin of the good or service in order to determine if it originates from a resource, person, company, etc that is doing good in the world. It means participating in a way of life and practices that ensure the earth is able to thrive – and as an extension, humans and all life on earth will thrive.
What drives you to live a sustainable life?
The beauty of the earth and her regenerative nature. She is so unmistakably alive and yet it feels like so few see this and as a result so few are stewarding her lands. I want to be on my deathbed and know I did everything in my power to steward these lands we have the privilege of occupying for our short years on earth.
Finally, what are three changes you would like to take from this time to move forward with in a more sustainable way?
1. I want to be stricter with myself to only consume locally grown and produced food and items (as much as possible). Right now based on where I am in the world this means less imported goods likes coffee, avocados, tropical fruit etc. You can still get fresh veg in the winter by growing your own micro-greens!!! This is such good hack for those of us living through the winter in so many climates the northern hemisphere where fresh greens are hard to find.
2. I want to continue to educate myself, I have a long reading list (thanks to Reve for so many suggestions!!!). If all goes to plan, I also hope to begin my Masters Degree in fall 2022 in subject matter related to the slow food movement / agroecology / food sovereignty.
3. I want to be more vocal. I want to share more on the topic. I want to challenge more people and businesses to be more considerate of the natural world, but I also feel that in doing all this, it is important to inspire and not alienate. We need the change desperately, but we also need to get masses on board. Doing this from a place of love feels like a key part of the solution.