We can choose to be affected by the world, or we can choose to affect the world.
When it comes to making our impact on the world, Raw Kaya Organics does not plan on doing things in halves, and, apparently neither does Charlotte Rose Mellis - Co Founder of company for environmental change, VOX POPULI.
Through a chance introduction recently inspired by a mutual friend, we met an amazing young woman that is affecting positive change on the world through her affinity with nature. World, meet Charlotte Rose Mellis - Raw Kaya's newest environmental ambassador and all round person of awesomeness.
Raw Kaya's motto is "Live for adventure. Do no harm. Be beautiful, naturally". On all accounts, you appear to embody this way of life. What was the catalyst for you for getting involved in environmental conservation and launching VOX POPULI?
Firstly, I am absolutely flattered! Raw Kaya's values encapsulate a way of life that I strive towards.
When it came to the creation of VOX POPULI, it wasn't a definitive catalyst, yet a culmination of events that lead to its conception. I grew up in a small coastal town, with the luxury of abundant nature and pristine beaches as my playground. In school I had a fascination with science and an unquenchable curiosity for the inner-workings of things, which has continued to persist throughout my adult education. It was in my early twenties that I began connecting the dots. Upon taking a hiatus from University studies and a fast-paced professional life in Melbourne, I donated my possessions and travelled solo by bus across South America. I explored the phenomenal wilderness and immersed myself in diverse cultures. Although it was not my first overseas adventure, it was a pinnacle time in my life. My adoration for the natural world was piqued, yet I was simultaneously confronted by the social and environmental challenges facing rapidly developing nations.
I continued to explore the world (any chance I could!), with an inclination towards remote, undeveloped regions. As an obsessed diver, hiking enthusiast and recreational sailor, this often leads me to magnificent places. The experiences altered the lens through which I saw Australia. I was inspired to recognise the complex beauty in my own backyard, even more so, I became driven to protect it.
What is the core message of VOX POPULI?
"In the restoration of wild landscapes, we find nature. Through the empowerment of others, we find ourselves."
What has been your most memorable experience since becoming involved in environmental conservation and launching VOX POPULI?
On a marine conservation expedition in Raja Ampat, West Papua, I spent weeks living on a tiny sand island surrounded by pristine reef. It took three flights, a ferry and a five hour boat ride to get there. Diving four times a day, teaching the local kids about the ocean and swapping showers for tropical downpours. We embraced life without electricity, plumbing and internet, practiced yoga and slept under the stars on the jetty. I will forever remind myself of how liberating it is to nurturing your basic needs and experience utter gratitude for the simple wonders. It is a memory that reaffirms to me, no matter where I am, societal pressures and materialistic value are human-made illusions. We are always capable of stepping beyond them for our own fulfilment. In addition to this, one of my favourite things about VP is the sense of community and collaboration that we are building. I am continuously connecting with marvellous human beings eager to make a positive difference in the world.
What environmental issues, in your opinion, are something that everyone should be aware of?
It has now become obvious that we depend on the ocean and its balanced ecology for our survival. We are currently faced with a number of challenges, from plastic pollution to species vulnerability. As human practices have consistent, detrimental impacts on the environment, I believe the tests of this era cannot realistically be resolved on a global scale until economic inequality, education deficits and political bureaucracies are addressed.
What is your favourite land-based creature and favourite marine creature?
This question is very difficult for me haha! I LOVE cows. They are culturally misunderstood, stunning sentient creatures. Also, I'm a permaculture lover, so I welcome a huge variety of animals and critters in my garden. I have a fondness for birds, but a crazy level of intrigue for insects. I have always been amazed by ants, their behaviour is fascinating and they play such an essential role in the wellbeing of habitats. Under the sea, I think peacock mantis shrimp are one of my favourite creatures! I was fortunate enough to spot one during an epic wall dive off Bunaken Island, North Sulawesi. Other than that, zooplankton and phytoplankton (okay, breaking the rules here), blow my mind. I experienced magical night diving in West Papua, where I would turn off my torch and float in complete darkness to admire the green bioluminescence.
Is there a species (land or marine-based) that you feel is often misunderstood?
Sharks have definitely gained a negative reputation on our planet. Although, I believe we are experiencing a paradigm shift, in which our relationship to this misunderstood mass of cartilage and teeth is transforming from one of fear, to one of respect. As apex predators, they are a critical component within a healthy marine ecosystem and until our perspective evolves, we are sabotaging our own vitality. VP are currently working on something super exciting for 2017, to facilitate creating a solution that maintains human safety and protects the environment. Watch this space!
What is your current skincare regime (if you have one)?
I am mindful of what I put on my skin, also acknowledging the importance of nutrition, emotional wellbeing, digestive health and physical activity. I find that our skin is an excellent communicator, whether it is reflecting mineral deficiencies, high stress levels (cortisol) or poor diet and lifestyle choices. I enjoy making many products myself, from natural deodorants, to spearmint toothpastes and zincs… some may say, I am quite the witch doctor. Otherwise, I try to be an activist with my cash, purchasing organic, environmentally friendly brands.
If you were speaking at the G20 summit, what message would you give to the attendees?
I would express the urgent necessity for deadlines to be implemented around global climate goals. This would work as a means to strengthen human beings as a collective, working towards a common victory. To face adversity and experience purpose, actually benefits the human psyche and binds societies. Besides, it is impossible to accomplish goals by a date, if it is forever tentative.
If you could be another species for a day, what would it be and why?
I would probably go back to the Jurassic period to be a pterodactyl. What a time to be alive!
If your life was a movie, what would it be called?
Charlotte's Web. For so many reasons.