Welcome to the first chapter of our Reverie Woman Series. With this series, we'll be introducing you to our real-life Reverie Women and exploring their values, their lifestyles and the ways in which they incorporate sustainability and kindness into their everyday lives.
I first stumbled across Lydia Cooke's Instagram page a few months ago. I fell in love with her content and positive messaging about the environment and our beautiful planet. I felt her sunny personality shine through her captions and photographs and immediately felt that if our Reverie Woman had a face, it would be hers.
That's when it clicked. The Reverie Woman isn't just one muse. She lives in every act of kindness, every strong voice, every truth. I contacted Lydia at once and told her about Reverie, our mission and our muse.
There are so many shared values between Lydia and Reverie, so it's completely appropriate that we introduce Lydia Cooke as the very first Reverie Woman in our series.
I sincerely hope you enjoy reading our conversation as much as I have enjoyed getting to know this incredible woman.
Photograph of Lydia by @graceelizphoto
Hi Lydia! Thank you so much for joining us as part of our Reverie Woman series. First of all, could you tell us a little more about what you do and what makes you so passionate about the environment?
Thanks for bringing me along! I guess an overview is that i’m a model, content creator and blogger from a beautiful seaside town called Falmouth in Cornwall (UK). My day to day life is generally quite a big jumble of things! I volunteer for the charity ShelterBox, run social media for myself and other businesses, head out to photoshoots, produce content creation, organise styling, write environmental blogs, illustrate and have more recently started a podcast project.
Most of my work is based entirely around helping people move towards a more sustainable and outdoors-influenced lifestyle, something that’s incredibly important to me. With my degree in Geography and a history of quite frankly incredible travels, my eyes have been opened to the idea of a better future. I feel my mission in life is to help spread awareness of humanitarian challenges, climate change and sustainability so that together we can help protect the future of ourselves AND the planet.
Was there a tipping point in your life when you started to feel drawn to more ethical and environmentally friendly choices?
I don’t think there was a specific moment as such, from my early days growing up along the Jurassic coast my mum had me outdoors in nature almost every moment of the day. Because of this, my fondness for the world we live in and everything that it offers us has been a part of me from as far back as I can remember. I guess the time where my passions grew stronger was whilst I was travelling through South East Asia in 2016. I started to see the injustice of climate change and the effects of natural disaster that here in England we really can’t comprehend.
I remember feeling all kinds of emotions for the ignorance I hold being part of a country who really doesn’t feel the real impacts and magnitude of the challenges we’re facing as a global population. I came home to study my degree in Geography with a fire in my heart to do my best to educate and make a real life difference.
I sometimes find balancing all of my values really exhausting as there can be an overlap of ethics from one topic to the next, for example what’s vegan might not be the more environmentally friendly choice in terms of man-made, plastic based fibres. Do you ever find this? What is your main focus when it comes to your sustainable values?
I completely feel this! It’s hard to try and make sure you’re covering all bases at once. Being an influencer holds added pressure too as people following you are relying on you to make the right decisions for their sake and trust. I’ve found the only way to really try and hold your values as best as you can is to always research the product you’re buying… if it’s an ethical, organic and cruelty free product, can you recycle/ reuse the bottle it comes in? If it’s a long lasting and sustainable item of clothing but has to be shipped from Australia, can you find it here in the UK second hand?
It’s about making informed decisions, educating yourself on alternatives and trying to become the most ethically and sustainably minded consumer you can be. Find the compromises that fit you best.
Can you tell us any more about what you’re striving to achieve with your amazing blog and your constant raising of awareness around environmental issues?
The aim of my blog is to offer an educational insight into the challenges that I feel passionate about as well as to shed light on modern day issues such as climate refugees. I think education can often be the strongest form of driving change, especially when written in a more conversational manner.
A particular series i’ve been writing called ‘what on earth?’ aims to put complicated scientific language like ‘Arctic amplification’ or ‘ocean acidification’ more plainly so that we as the public can hold a better understanding of the issues being raised. Of course, as well as my environmental blogs I like to inject content about myself, my love of the outdoors and tips for people looking to follow a similar career!
Photograph of Lydia by @chris.boulton.photo
You live in such a beautiful part of the world, on our stunning rugged British coastline. Does this influence your lifestyle or purchasing choices?
Oh absolutely. People always ask me why I don’t move to the city where there’s more work and opportunity. The simple answer is that without the sea, clear horizons and quiet spots I simply wouldn’t be happy and capable of finding clarity. In fact, i’m currently writing a blog about how the outdoors saved me on a number of levels and how living in Cornwall shapes who I am! I guess being out in nature most days and seeing the impacts of the plastic problem on our home beaches really sheds light on the challenges close to home. So yes, I would also agree it affects my purchasing choices as I can visualise the consequences.
How has lockdown affected you over the last year? What were your highs and lows?
My view on the past year is something i’m really trying to hold a certain perspective on as to not get held up. Unfortunately during the first lockdown I had a number of distressing things happen in my life, not anything to do with Covid mind, but the lockdown and state of the world didn’t really help the healing process or need to have my family around. Saying that, it might sound crazy, but I knew deep down that this year wasn’t going to defeat me. I was determined to make sure of that.
As a little project I went out and bought a disposable camera to carry around with me on the ‘up’ of my road to recovery. I made new friends, discovered new places, found a further love for my job and moved to make the jump to be a full time freelancer. Over all of these highs I took photos on this little camera, capturing moments of happiness, normality and pure bliss. I’ll hold on to those photos forever as proof that as hard as 2020 tried, I still had one of the best years of my life.
What are you most looking forward to being able to do again?
Gosh, where do I even begin! I can’t wait to hug my grandparents, to travel further afield, to push my business as a model harder than ever with no restriction. But I also can’t wait for those little joys… to sit in a pub after a long walk, pop in to a friends for a cup of tea or just wander into town to browse through the shops. We’ve all done so well to get this far, I think more than anything I just can’t wait to see joy in the world again.
Do you find through your work as a model and blogger that you’re able to connect with like minded people and businesses? Are you ever conflicted about who you want to work with and represent?
I will always vouch that the best part of my job is the people I meet and the people I get to connect with. It’s given me so much confidence to realise that there’s this whole world of amazing creatives out there bringing art and inspiration to our world. I’m lucky to be a part of that. Of course, with the ethos and values that I hold with my ‘influencing’ it’s often hard to make sure that i’m working with the right people. I choose to not promote companies or products through instagram that don’t stay true to my work towards a better future. However i’ll admit this can be hard sometimes with greenwashing often catching us out; something that i’m definitely trying to work harder to share awareness on. I now try and spend a bit of time researching companies who reach out to me as to make sure that I’m doing the right thing!
Photograph of Lydia by @graceelizphoto
Can you tell us who some of your favourite sustainable and ethical brands are?
Of course! It’s hard to choose as I work with a lot of amazing companies but here are a few of my favourites…
What is your ultimate vision for your future and our planet?
For MY future, I just want to know that I’ll always be out in the world exploring and being creative. I find so much happiness using the outdoors as my ‘office’, meeting amazing people and producing awesome content. Unfortunately I wasn’t built to sit at a desk all day, as hard as i’ve tried! Ultimately, my dream from a young age has been to be a documentary presenter. I think there’s nothing I would be more proud of than to be using education in this way as a means of sharing awareness about our world, its challenges and ways that we can help.
For our planet, I want to see that it becomes normal to respect our environment and that our habits alter to naturally be more sustainable. I want to see companies realising that sales will only happen if they are ethical and sustainable and that those who don’t follow this ethos can be called out. I would love to know that as consumers we change the demand for what we want to buy and how we want to buy. I have faith in this though, the younger generations are up to some amazing things and changing their perspectives from the start. I have confidence that our planet and all its ecosystems may be safe again one day.
Scenic photographs are by Lydia Cooke @lydia_cooke
Featured photograph of Lydia by @tomyoungphotography