Ariana Whittingham Interviews Montana Lower for Ecocious
I am honoured to share this interview with you all today, Montana is someone that my sister and I have followed and looked up to in the Sustainable space for a number of years now. She embodies living from the earth and shares how she does so; freely and authentically. She is so balanced: passionate yet compassionate, creative and nurturing, soft and strong all at once... which you can feel through her various Social Media accounts (300k+) and Art @muralsforchange - Murals for Change is one of Montanas many sustainably impactful businesses, an organisation developed to engage and empower youth, pairing with relevant social and environmental causes to raise funds and awareness. Montana studied a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Environmental) and was the Environmental engineer at Outland Denim before stepping into her various roles on her path to founding Bleum - Seed to skin, clean beauty formulations that are targeted and effective yet remain simple, organic and free from harmful or unnecessary ingredients. Her devotion to continually learn and share her journey of motherhood encourages supportive and nurturing behaviour of children. me immense hope for our future generations, and if we all take a few pages from Montanas book - they will get to see in a cleaner world
Ariana: Montana, you have been in the game far longer than I have... Let's start off with the basics in case any of our readers have not come across you before! What does "sustainability" mean to you?
Thank you for having me, Ariana! Sustainability has taken on many definitions and 'labels' the past few years, however I think at its core sustainability just means to be able to holistically sustain itself. So for me, living a sustainable life means I'm considering the environmental, economic and social/humanitarian impact as well as the overall quality of life. The reason I say quality of life is because I have had my fair share of time feeling down in the dumps about the future of the world, and there really is no point in striving for 'a better world' if it's negatively affecting us along the way. The thing about caring for the world and the people who inhabit it, however, is that it ultimately connects us to our selfless human nature and improves our mental health in the long run. For me, it was a natural progression to lead a conscious life because it also made me the happiest long term.
Ariana: Let's talk about sustainability and motherhood, you seem to be the expert in both! My sister and I are in constant awe of how gracefully you have raised your family with pure love... towards your entire family unit and the environment. Your following of 250,000 like minded individuals wasnt always there to lift you up and I'm sure there were times where it was just yourself carrying the weight of this passion... How did you evolve yourself to the space you are in today?
Ohhh I'm definitely not an expert, but I do try my hardest!! I'm not sure I ever aspired to have an inspiring life for others.. I just wanted to do it for myself and my family. I think we all want to live the best version of our lives. I've always surrounded myself with people that push my limits and expectations of what is possible. Living rurally has also made it a lot easier to step outside society 'norms' and decide what works uniquely for us. And then of course my biggest inspiration has been baby Blue, who reminds me to reimagine the world anew every day.
Ariana: Bluem Skincare is your latest passion project... I've watched it grow online and I'm so excited to try it out soon! There are some beautiful products that have caught my eye - congratulations on such a divine clean skincare range.
How long has this business been a work in progress? Was skincare always something you were passionate about or did you see it as a gap in the market/ something that was missing and you needed to create?
Oh thank you! As a woman we are introduced to skincare very early whether we seek it out or not, so I think we all need to give ourselves a bit more credit for how much we already know in this space. But I do think a lot of us overlook the impact of the chemicals going on our body and what it's doing to our health.
I started my natural skincare journey after an emergency surgery while on holiday in Japan.. The surgery saw the removal of one of my ovaries & a tumour which was a result of significant hormone imbalance. When I returned to Australia, I got myself a natural doctor and started to detox all chemicals from my life. While I was on this journey I also had some amazing opportunities to represent Australia at the United Nations Headquarters delivering the largest animal rights campaign in history (to stop animal testing in cosmetics), and explore rural regions of Ghana, Africa learning about fair trade & its impact on local villages. A couple of years later, I was pregnant with my baby girl and was even more alarmed by the 'natural' products I was using, still not being recommended for pregnant women. So I sought to find something that was both simple and effective, while also helping to contribute to a better world for my baby.
I already knew what I was looking for when I started to trial products for what would become Bluem.. It needed to be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable while giving back to our earth. Environmentally, it made the most sense to source our products from Australia and be climate positive, Socially it made sense to work with indigenous communities to respect their knowledge in this space and Economically I wanted to provide something that was potent yet simple enough for mums on the go. Our give back programs include $1 for every purchase going towards customers selected charities (currently we are supporting SeedMob, 1% for the planet, 1 tree planted and Murals for Change) as well as ongoing support of activist campaigns. And so much more I can't wait to share!
Ariana: Murals for change is one of the most creative acts of selflessness I have come across. What was the most impacting piece you've created, what was the meaning/message behind it & what did it achieve?
Definitely our recent project 'Grow Together'. We went to a rural community still rebuilding their lives one year on after the bushfires raged through the east coast of NSW. We held an art therapy workshop to help process the trauma that often gets swept under the rug in a desperate attempt to move forward, then held a community workshop to collaboratively paint a huge mural under the them 'grow together'. Then we made that mural artwork into a T-shirt and sold it online to raise funds for the Camdens Women Shelter and was able to donate $5,000 to housing women and children in the area! I just love seeing people of all ages and walks of life come together to connect and make a tangible impact on their community.
Ariana: What are your top 5 favourite sustainable products, and why?
Easiest places to start are things you do every day. Doing this shows an every day commitment to a better world and a constant reminder that you CAN make a difference. I also like to think of it as practices rather than products to move away from consuming.. A list with a mixture of the two:
- Bluem , natural skincare ;)
- Exposed Naturals zero waste deodorant
- Bamboo toothbrushes & hairbrushes that don't have plastic bristles
- Op shopping
- Practicing Elimination Communication with your baby (significantly reducing diapers & so empowering!)
Ariana: How do you think we can influence others towards sustainability? and what is something you would like to pass on to anyone looking to follow in your footsteps.
Earth love is self love, it's as simple as that. If we care about ourselves and the world we live in, taking care of it is in the same sentence as taking care of ourselves. If it ever feels too hard or inaccessible to do the right thing for the planet, start to question your lifestyle and how you can take small steps in a journey back to nature..
To follow Montanas journey: