Fierce Females no.30: Lydia Cooke, Environmental Activist and Model
••• We’re so excited to introduce you to our next #FierceFemale. Hailing from England’s beautiful and wild Jurassic Coast, environmental activist and model Lydia Cooke has been carving her own free path living in the mecca of all that’s watersports, Newquay Cornwall. The passionate water woman explores ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle, from fashion choices and food, to travel and more on her platforms, working with diverse brands and businesses as a model aligned with her beliefs. We caught up Lydia for a chat to delve into this inspiring #FierceFemale’s life in Cornwall.
Hi Lydia! We think you rule. Where are you from, what’s your backstory?
I was born along the Jurassic coast and spent the entirety of my childhood there, learning the ways of the UK coastline and all that it has to offer. I guess my passion for the world and our need to protect it started in Dorset, witnessing the way in which nature shapes our home provoked me to travel Southeast Asia before settling into my degree in Geography at the university of Exeter’s Penryn campus. Whilst my modeling career had started some years ago, my research in natural disaster, sustainability and glaciology at university led me to diversify my platform and promote the causes I believe in. So that’s where you find me today, engrossed in the creative community whilst promoting ways to live a more future friendly lifestyle!
Where do you live now and what is so special about this part of the world?
I’m currently living in Newquay, Cornwall, having moved up from Falmouth earlier this year. Though born in Dorset, my mum had reared my brother and I along the Cornish coast. We would spend consecutive years walking sections of the coast path, wild camping along the way. I had always known that Cornwall was my true home. Its stunning coastline, welcoming community and harsh winters held my heart.
“Cornwall holds a certain energy that I can’t find elsewhere. It’s dramatic cliffs and hidden mermaid pools are forever calling for mind-soothing adventure.”
Tell me about your passion for sustainability which you share across your channels.
The term ‘sustainability’ to me is something that I feel should be ingrained into everyone’s lifestyle. Whether you call it a passion, a duty, a hobby. Whatever it is, it goes without saying that in our current state of the world the environment and its needs are something that can’t be missed. I have an advantage for understanding the science behind climate change and its complicated dialect from my years of head scratching and confusion at university. Though fuelled with fire from my research to create action, I realised that much of it is vastly
complicated and hard to understand. I guess my passion really is to bridge the gap between science and the public because without pulling the issues apart we can barely understand what’s going on. We need more people creating relatable change and we need companies to cut the issue from its source. Because like I mentioned before, it’s not an option to be ‘sustainable’ or not… it’s just hard to reach sometimes.
You cast a light on awesome ways to live a more mindful life across fashion… what are some of your top tips?
- Charity shops are full of second-hand gems, I’ve found some of my favourite items thrifting and love the chase to find those perfect pieces.
- Get creative when you’re buying second hand and alter items to suit your wardrobe. For example, I often buy mens t-shirts in a larger size then chop them into a crop fit.
- These days there are tons of apps to help you buy second hand with more and more people selling on them every day. Why not try Bandi, Depop, Vinted or Ebay!
- If you’re buying new It’s worth investing in good quality, ethical and sustainable clothing that will last you years. Make sure to research the brand’s credentials and always check for greenwashing.
Those are really useful tips! Over here at SLO, our brand was founded on the very ethos that our choices have an impact. every consumer decision we make is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. We are strong advocates for slow fashion, which encompasses all things ethical and eco-conscious in one unified movement. We don’t release product seasonally, with one collection per year; our designs timeless, feminine and functional, and giving back to the ocean is at the heart of everything we do! It’s our way of expressing gratitude. For every piece that you buy, we will donate to our charity, Earth to Ocean. Anyway, back to our interview! what are some of the biggest challenges?
It’s a minefield out there these days with companies throwing greenwashing terms round and hiding from the truth. I have been having a debate with myself about the word ‘sustainability’ for the past year because with fast fashion brands using the term it’s losing its true meaning. There also seems to be a large gap between fast fashion prices and sustainability, which is why I try to promote the idea of ‘investing for the long run’ or buying second hand. Saying this, I’ve seen a huge shift in people’s mindset over the past couple of years and have hope that the demand for fast fashion will become low enough for it to disappear entirely.
We love all your wild swimming videos. How does wild swimming benefit your wellness?
Where do I begin? I can quite honestly say that wild swimming has saved me on many occasions. Having battled with mental health since my years at university, my connection to wild swimming and cold water has worked wonders. There’s something about allowing yourself to be in your rawest form from time to time that is hugely beneficial. We were not designed to sit in front of screens or stare at concrete walls; allowing yourself to be in
nature and away from the modern world reminds you of that and allows our inner selves to feel free. The search to find hidden spots and the strength needed to fight the body’s instinct to fear cold has taught my mind to fight.
I created a short film about these benefits with a friend of mine, Keiran Hammond, which discussed many of these emotions. I will pull a quote from there to accompany this…
“There’s a sense of encouragement that comes from spending time in the ocean, as if one of its own waves are pushing you to stride forward.”
How else does a connection to the ocean benefit your life?
Aside from its ever-popular offering of water sports and beautiful backdrops, there’s not a lot that the ocean can’t fix. I often find myself craving the need to see a clear horizon in order to set my mind straight, ground myself and remind my overactive thoughts that the world really is wide. In my darkest days I would sit by the edge of the water, watch the waves roll in and focus on the fact that no matter how big the storm, how calm the day or how
rocky the beach… the tide will forever come in and out. To this day I believe that this thought was the turning point in my journey to health.
“We should never underestimate the ocean’s ability to cure.”
What are some of your top tips for budding environmental activists to get started?
- Remember that people will ALWAYS question what you’re saying. You could be telling the world that the grass is green and someone will tell you it’s pink. Be prepared for that.
- Stay positive. It’s human nature to lose hope when speaking in a disastrous manner… provide solutions for issues in order to motivate people to change.
- Remember that this is your passion, never lose that fire or allow someone to tell you that you can’t do it.
Any fav organisations or charities?
Absolutely, I’ve volunteered with ShelterBox now for around 5 years and love all that they do. People often forget that climate change is leading to a higher risk of natural disaster; the team at ShelterBox provides support for those communities. I also love that they are a Cornwall based organisation!
What do you like about your pieces from SLOs The Retreat Collection?
I absolutely adore my pieces! The fit is great, I feel secure in all areas and find the two items easy to get on and off. Not only are the high waisted bikini bottoms super flattering, but they have also successfully survived the ‘rock-pool diving test’ and do not fly off (that’s something to celebrate!).
Jokes aside, the quality is incredible, and the look gives me wild woman bond girl vibes. I’m excited to take them into the winter months with me.