In partnership with New Balance
Bridget Hollitt isn't one to shy away from self-growth. Like all of us, her relationship with sustainability has been a process – the product of waking up every day and choosing to put one foot in front of the other. After all, the gap between being a self-described "fast fashion baby" to a climate advocate is a series of small steps rather than one giant leap. A matter of slowing down and bringing intention to your output. So you can believe us when we say the actor and model is putting in the work.
It's precisely for this reason that Hollitt admires New Balance. Yes, the sportswear label is turning heads in the realm of streetwear, but it's their commitment to climate responsible craftsmanship that has our hearts. Having long since established its Responsible Leadership Strategy, with the aim to transfer completely to renewable energy across its global supply chain and send zero waste to landfill by 2025, news of its green leaf Standard is the cherry on top. New Balance has announced that its 574 and Fresh Foam 1080v12 styles will now meet its green leaf Standard; meaning at least 50% of the shoes upper are sourced from environmentally preferred materials.
In images lensed by our Kitty Callaghan, and wearing the New Balance green leaf Standard silhouettes, RUSSH caught up with Bridget Hollitt to discuss everything from the power of slowing down and her relationship with climate anxiety. Find our conversation, below.
What is your ethos around sustainability?
I believe that sustainability is not just about the planet, but about how we treat ourselves, others and everything we come into contact with. It’s not just about maintaining the planet although that is one of the most urgent crises we're facing. But also designing your life in a way that decries behaviour/ideas/patterns that bleed us dry and disconnect us from ourselves and the living and non-living things around us.
How has your journey toward living more sustainably evolved over time?
I mean, I was a fast fashion baby – going to Boxing Day Sales and buying as many $5 tops as I could that would mostly end up being donated or in landfill. I don’t remember when I first heard the term ‘fast fashion’ but something about that way of existing slowly began to feel very, very wrong. Meeting people who are passionate about sustainability and reading a lot of writing about how ecosystems work have made me an avid worshipper of the power of minimalism and cyclical being.
What is a simple but effective way we can all be more sustainable?
Slow down. Fight the system inside of you saying you need to do all the things and be all the things at once in one day. Slowing down is the ultimate form of revolution against the systems inside and outside of us that are stripping us and the planet of its energy.
What draws you to New Balance? Why does the footwear label speak to you?
I like that New Balance don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re chunky and funky and fun. But so functional – they lend themselves well to sustainability since you can wear them with anything and it has some type of flair.
Do you have a favourite colourway from the New Balance 574 green leaf standard range?
I like the maroon. They say ‘I’m cute and you can get dog poop on me and maybe people won’t notice’.
Is there anything you think people often get wrong about sustainability?
That it’s altruistic or a ‘good person’ thing to do. It benefits all and not just in the way of saving the planet we inhabit. It is simply good living.
Do you ever experience climate anxiety? How do you take care of yourself when you do?
My latest malaise has been feeling disillusioned by where we are – feeling that we are just snowballing down a steep incline, gathering speed towards total obliteration. What I tell myself is that there have been many times it’s felt like the world is ending and we have found our way through one way or another. This does not mean us winning or succeeding by any means, but that we will keep going, in some form (for better or worse). Even if humanity kills ourselves out, the planet will find its way to regeneration. I just want to be a part of that future, and want my kids to be a part of that future.
That’s where my rage lies; thinking about that future being stripped of my nieces, nephews, grandchildren. I think fostering and nurturing this rage in a healthy way is an important part of change. Anger is the catalyst for so much change; if we can channel it into beautiful words and strategic action, that’s the best we can do.
I’ve spent enough time lying in bed in this paralysed state of anxiety and apathy. There’s only one way out and that’s through. Yoga helps. Friends help. Walks in nature help. But like all cycles in nature, things tend to change one way or another.
With New Balance’s new green leaf standard, the brand isn’t adding an additional component to its range but rather rethinking the way it creates styles like the 574 to be more responsible and recycle existing materials. Why is this important?
It’s great when a brand can maintain their identity while incorporating sustainable concepts and processes. It shows that we don’t have to change ourselves to become responsible members of society and it supports enterprises built around sustainable principles.
Who do you admire for their climate activism?
I’m inspired by Riise CEO Sara Bell who in 2018 led a case against the UK government for fossil fuel subsidies. While I think our systems need to be rethought - until they are rethunk there are still ways to take on big coal, big oil etc. and force government’s hand back towards renewable energy systems.
For education, I love following:
Shop the New Balance 574 Core green leaf collection, here.
PHOTOGRAPHER & STYLIST Kitty Callaghan
TALENT & STYLIST Bridget Hollitt