Meet Areta Szpura
Activist, business woman and influencer Areta Szpura made a name for herself in fashion. Along with Karolina Słota, she established Polish streetwear brand Local Heroes. They were teenage girls, when they began their journey into fashion and entrepreneurship, a journey that took them to places and celebrities they had not even dreamt of. When in 2012 Justin Bieber, and later Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Cara Delevigne and Gigi Hadid were seen wearing Local Heroes, the brand became an international success and is now available on five continents. Local Heroes is one of the best-known Polish fashion brands, a claim supported by collaborations with brand giants such as Rebook, Disney and most recently, Converse.
Local Heroes and Areta herself have been featured in prestigious lifestyle magazines Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Nylon magazine, and in 2017, the young women’s achievement (they are still both in their mid-twenties) earned them a place on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list.
Fashion is the second-most polluting industry, so when Areta Szpura broke out of Local Heroes and the traditional fashion world last year, she dedicated her focus to the underlying aspects of fashion production. Campaigning for a cleaner, greener and kinder world, Areta is an advocate for consuming less and buying fewer but better items. She is an avid supporter of designer Magda Buczek’s Surplus project, in which clothes from excess production are given new life. Areta is an activist, a passionate soul, who worries about our environment and puts her energy into trying to get her fans, followers and all of us to make small changes to create big impact.
After all, what difference does one single-use plastic straw make? Said 7 billion people…
Five minutes with Areta Szpura
You campaign for people to recycle shopping bags, avoid straws, etc. When did you first become environmentally conscious?
It all started from fashion. I’ve worked in the industry for the past 8 years and about 2 years ago, having my own brand, I started realizing how much this impacts our planet. The first movie that really opened my eyes was The True Cost (you can still watch it on Netlix ! ). I started with my own wardrobe, seeing how much stuff I have and how much I really need and wear. The gap was huge. First thing I did was #project333. You pick 33 pieces and stick with them for 3 months. It sounded impossible at first, but then, I saw how having only very few things, can make your life easier. And this attitude spread into other parts of my life. We’re told by the industry that we need new items almost every day. This items need to be cheap, so they are manufactured with the cheapest ingredients in not so glamourous conditions. Because everything is so cheap, we tend not to hold onto them, just use and throw away. We don’t think about what’s gonna happen after we put things in the trash. Unfortunately most of the things won’t get recycled, just end up in the landfill, or even worse, in the oceans. Killing sea creatures and turning into microplastics that will end up back in our houses, for example in our drinking water. Most people feel like they don’t have any power over climate change, but that’s not true. Every decision we make CAN make a difference. That’s why it’s so important to avoid single use plastic, buy responsibly and respect what we already have.
Blogging is often about fast fashion, offering discount codes, and encouraging to consume. You do things a little differently. Do you feel your profile inhibits you in any way or do you set restrictions for yourself?
After I realized how fucked up this whole system is, I felt sick and wanted to delete all my social media profiles. But then, I though that’s the easiest option, and that I should try to use what I have and know to spread the good ideas around, and suggest people to buy local and second hand instead of the newest Zara collection, etc.
On my recent trip to Poland, I was charged for every single carrier bag I needed for my purchases, which I’m used to in Denmark, but I hadn’t noticed it being done before in Poland. What other positive changes are taking place and affecting the average person’s everyday life?
Yes! That’s a new thing that just started in 2018, but I can already see big difference! Not everyone is emphatic enough to think about the planet on their daily basis, so that’s when money can help and encourage them to bring reusable bag everywhere they go 🙂
In continuation of the above, in an ideal world, what changes would you like to see implemented in Poland?
Ideally, all manufacturers would be responsible for their product from start to end, and they would have to design the packaging in a way to recycle/reuse it without any problems. We should learn from our Scandinavian neighbours, Sweden supposedly is so good at it, it running out of trash!
Keeping in mind your activist profile, where would you recommend enjoying a meal or spending the night, when coming to Poland?
Warsaw is the 3rd vegan city in the WORLD! My faves here are: Wegeguru for dinner and Best Vegan Cakes, Vege Małpa for lunch, Youmiko is the best vegan sushi and Vegan Ramen is the perfect hungover breakfast. For coffee: Relaks, Nancy Lee and Stor. I’m not the best on hotels here, but I know Autor Rooms are fancy and nice, my friends stayed at Sen Nocy Letniej Hostel in the center and liked it very much. Also, my fave polish hotel chain Puro is gonna be here soon! So anywhere else I go, I tend to stay there. In Wroclaw, I remember they have this bar with the most amazing atmosphere called Kalambur, best food at Osiem Misek and next to it there is a local brewery and all-vegan supermarket!
If money wasn’t an issue and you didn’t have to worry about an environmental impact, what would your perfect Saturday night look like and who would you spend it with?
I worry every time! Seeing all the single use cups and straws thrown away every second 🙁 My fave moment of the year is summer, I can’t wait for nights near the river and dancing until the sun comes up. When the temperature is not that nice, I love just drinking wine with my friends at home or getting a fancy drink at Mod or Regina, and then dancing at Bar Studio. And if nothing is going on, there’s always Plan B!
And a perfect night out, that costs nothing?
Picnicking under the stars!
Peek into Areta’s tounge-in-cheek universe of unicorns, rainbows and sugary pastels (you can almost smell the bubblegum!) on Instagram and on Facebook, and be inspired to opt for edible, paper, metal, glass or bamboo straws instead of plastic ones at #ditchthestraw #niebierzrurki #suckingsucks