This week I am excited to be interviewing Chrissy Holmes, who is an environmental activist and artist from my hometown of Bristol. As well as setting up her own small business on Etsy, she is also raising activists of her own, and working at Bristol’s first ever zero waste store, Zero Green. I’ve admired Chrissy’s nature themed art on Instagram for ages as well as her passion for the environment, so I am thrilled that she has agreed to do an interview with me today.
What made you want to start up your eco-friendly art business?
I love painting and drawing. It helps me focus, direct my attention on something and I can mentally shut everything else out. I suppose it is almost a meditative process for me and I don’t feel quite right when if I haven’t done anything creative for some time. Being able to make a living from my passion has always been a dream for me. I am a long way off art being my sole income but maybe one day!
What inspires you?
Nature has always been my source of inspiration. The beauty of our natural world, its vitality and fragility. My intention is to celebrate nature, and in that celebration I hope to inspire in people who see my work to love and protect our planet.
I noticed that nature features a lot in your art, is nature also a big part of your activism?
I started working on my Natures Alphabet after the birth of my second child. That was when I began to fully understand the severity of the climate crisis and it terrified me to think of the future and what kind of world my children would be growing up in. I was feeling deep despair and one way out of it was to direct my fear and love into painting. Painting and focusing on nature. Kind of like trying to make it permanent in paint, like self care. Can self care be activism? Preservation – self preservation and planetary preservation. Perhaps.
As a mother, how do you feel about the climate crisis, and how do you try and raise your children sustainably?
My children both love the outdoors and all the creatures they encounter! They probably know way more about animals than I do as they love watching nature documentaries. My daughter, who is nearly 9, is beginning to understand about climate change and it makes her sad that animals are being driven into extinction because of it. This is challenging for me as a parent as I want to tell her there’s nothing to worry about, and make it all better, yet I can’t. What I do instead is tell her some of the exciting success stories in re-wilding/ protecting endangered species and carbon sequestering initiatives that are taking place. I want to give her hope that human ingenuity can get us out of this mess.
We try to live as sustainably as possible – avoiding too much plastic packaging, shopping locally, second hand clothes, green energy etc. I don’t stress too much about these things though as we need system change more than individual change.
You also work at Zero Green Bristol, can you tell us more about them?
Zero Green is Bristol’s first zero waste shop. They opened 3 years ago and have expanded in that time with more staff and to a larger premises. It is not just about ditching the plastic in Zero Green, as they are also hugely ethical – selling organic and fair trade vegan products and also paying their staff the living wage.
What do you love most about working with Zero Green?
It is so wonderful to work somewhere that is in line with my ethics. Everyone I work with is interesting and we are all planet loving people involved in environmental projects outside of work. I also really enjoy of my chats with our customers. So many interesting people shop at Zero Green and it makes me feel good to witness many people trying to do their bit for the environment.
What is your favourite thing about Bristol?
I love how green it is! How it’s brimming with allotments, community gardens, farms and there’s so many initiatives that are environmentally focused in the city.
What is something you would change about Bristol?
The raising homelessness saddens me and also the air pollution needs to be tackled as its is dangerously high.
Why did you choose to give some of your art profits to Avon Needs Trees?
I have chosen two tree charities to donate to. I donate all the profits from my Natures Alphabet cards to Tree Aid. They are regenerating drylands across Africa and helping local communities thrive by planting trees. They are also one of the main charities involved in The Great Green Wall – a monumental scaled project to plant a wall of trees across the breadth of Africa. I have raised over £200 for this charity so far!
I donate money from my Make Mankind Earthkind prints and postcards to Avon Needs Trees. This is another land regeneration charity but more local. Avon Needs Trees has bought two areas of land and are reforesting them to help tackle climate change, boost local biodiversity and also work to prevent flooding.
Giving money to charity made from my art helps complete its intention – to raise awareness and as a by-produt – funds to protecting and supporting our environment.
Any advice for other people who want to have an eco friendly job like you or make activist art?
I don’t feel qualified to give advice as I don’t really think of myself as a success!! But I am just a person who is passionate about art and the environment and this directs my decision making.
Thank you so much Chrissy for answering these questions and for all of the amazing and inspiring work that you do. Make sure to follow Chrissy’s activism on her Instagram and please do support her art by taking a look at her Etsy.
Do you know of any inspiring activists you’d like to see interviewed? I’d love to see your suggestions, please comment down below.